Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Posts Tagged: Dairy

Dairy’s Net Zero Initiative gets boost with $10 million research grant

The new Net Zero Initiative project will examine the effects of value-added dairy manure products. Composted dairy manure used as fertilizer shown in an almond orchard. Photo by Sat Darshan Khalsa

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research has awarded a $10 million grant to support U.S. dairy's Net Zero Initiative as a critical on-farm pathway to advance the industrywide 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals set through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

In California, UC Davis and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists will collaborate on the nationwide project addressing carbon sequestration, soil health and nitrogen management.

"The Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research grant in partnership with Soil Health Institute and Dairy Research Institute are funding research that will positively impact the future of animal and plant agriculture in a world with increasingly limited natural resources,” said Deanne Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Davis, who studies livestock waste management. 

Working with California dairy forage and almond producers, UC Cooperative Extension scientists and technicians will evaluate and demonstrate the impacts of using manure products as fertilizer in combination with more traditional soil conservation practices.

“With this research, there's a potential to expand the use of dairy manure products beyond forage crops to crops such as almonds,” said Nick Clark, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Fresno and Tulare counties. “We expect results to demonstrate that groundwater quality and quantity can be protected and preserved, and crop yields can be maintained without increasing net greenhouse gas emissions from crop production.”

Clark added, “We look forward to working with our local producers and connecting with our national partners and collaborators to examine and demonstrate the best practical solutions that science has to offer for farming in tomorrow's world."

California dairy operators who would like to participate in the experiment may contact Clark for more information at neclark@ucanr.edu.

Data from the “Dairy Soil & Water Regeneration: Building soil health to reduce greenhouse gases, improve water quality and enable new economic benefits” project will be broadly shared among the dairy community. The six-year project will provide measurement-based assessments of dairy's greenhouse gas footprint for feed production. It will also set the stage for new market opportunities related to carbon, water quality and soil health.

“Addressing the U.S. dairy industry's emissions is a critical solution to climate change,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “I know dairy farmers are working hard to decrease their environmental footprint and I'm thrilled to support their efforts by advancing research needed to adopt climate-smart practices on dairy farms across the country.”

Through foundational science, on-farm pilots and development of new product markets, the Net Zero Initiative aims to knock down barriers and create incentives for farmers that will lead to economic viability and positive environmental impact.

“After six years, we will have data that accurately reflect our farms' greenhouse gas footprint for dairy crop rotations with consideration for soil health management practices and new manure-based products,” said Jim Wallace, Dairy Management Inc. senior vice president of environmental research. “We expect to develop critical insights that link soil health outcomes, such as carbon sequestration, with practice and technology adoption. This will provide important background information to support the development of new carbon and water quality markets.”  

The project will be executed across four dairy regions responsible for about 80% of U.S. milk production: Northeast, Lakes, Mountain and Pacific. In addition to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis, collaborators include the Soil Health Institute and leading dairy research institutions, including Cornell University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, University of Vermont, and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research in Idaho.

Dozens of dairies representing climates and soils of these major production regions will participate in a baseline survey of soil health and carbon storage. Additionally, eight farms, including five operating dairies, two university research dairies and one USDA ARS research farm, will participate in the project. These pilots will be used to engage farmers in soil health management practices and monitor changes in greenhouse gas emissions, soil carbon storage, soil health and water quality. 

The FFAR grant will be matched by financial contributions from Net Zero Initiative partners such as Nestlé, the dairy industry, including Newtrient, and in-kind support for a total of $23.2 million. The funds will be managed by the Dairy Research Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity founded and staffed by Dairy Management Inc., whose scientists will serve as the project leads to address research gaps in feed production and manure-based fertilizers.

About the partners

FFAR builds public-private partnerships to support bold science that fills critical research gaps. Working with partners across the private and public sectors, FFAR identifies urgent challenges facing the food and agriculture industry and funds research to develop solutions.

NZI is an industrywide effort led by six national dairy organizations: Dairy Management Inc., Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, International Dairy Foods Association, Newtrient, National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council. This collaboration represents a critical pathway on U.S. dairy's sustainability journey.

For more information about dairy sustainability, visit www.usdairy.com/sustainability.

Posted on Thursday, July 1, 2021 at 3:01 PM
Tags: dairy (38), Deanne Meyer (3), groundwater (20), Nick Clark (2)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Innovating dairy digester research

Dr. Pramod Pandey, a faculty member and cooperative extension specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine runs experiments in capturing biogas.

California leads the nation in agricultural production, producing nearly all the nation's leafy green vegetables, most nut and fruit varieties, and is ranked first in egg and dairy production.

What that means is that California also produces a lot of agricultural waste materials, including lots of manure.

Historically these waste materials have been used as a rich source of compost. However, researchers at UC Cooperative Extension are researching innovative uses for this material. 

Dr. Pramod Pandey, a faculty member and Cooperative Extension specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, focuses on better ways to manage waste material for both large and small farms. Dr. Pandey researches how to convert the organic matter in manure and other waste materials into a renewable energy source that can be used to power our state.

Converting manure to renewable energy

California gets over 27% of its energy from renewable resources like solar wind, and hydroelectric. Our goal is 50% renewable energy by 2030. California is taking steps towards this goal by building a network of dairy digesters which use bacteria to break down dairy manure and convert it into biogas. Clean burning fuels, such as biogas, are a sustainable source for generating energy because when they are burned, harmful by products are not produced.

Big bonus

A bonus is that the solid material left after the digesters have done their job is a fertilizer that can be used to grow the fruits, vegetables and nuts that our state is famous for. This type of fertilizer contains nutrients that are more readily available for plants because the digestion process breaks up organic materials more efficiently than traditional composting. The digestion process also helps reduce the number of harmful bacteria found in manure, making it much safer for use on plants grown for human food.

California leading in discovery and innovation

When we think about where agriculture has been and where it is going, innovation, efficiency and environmental sustainability are hallmarks of our approach in California. People like Dr. Pandey are driving forward research and technology to minimize the impact of agriculture production on the environment. When we think about where agriculture has been and where it is going, innovation, efficiency and environmental sustainability are hallmarks of our approach in California. His multidisciplinary approach to solving this complex problem of agricultural waste materials and water/air quality helps improve the economic wellbeing of farmers, and benefits Californians by providing nutrients for safe, healthy, and nutritious food.

While the importance of California's agriculture might be huge, its footprint on the environment doesn't have to be, and it is researchers like Dr. Pramod Pandey who are ensuring our state leads in discovery and innovation for many harvests to come.

Heather Johnson, Instructional Systems Designer, Gregory Wlasiuk, E-Learning Curriculum Designer, and Dr. Sara Garcia, Project Scientist, with the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at the University of California, Davis, provided the script for the video which was used in this story. View Heather, Sara and Greg's filming and editing skills in the video below. Greg provides the narration. 

Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 2:27 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Innovation

UC helps California dairy farmers experiment with milking robots

In dairies with milking robots, cows voluntarily walk into a sophisticated, computerized box when they are ready for milking.
Early in the 20th century, dairy operators traded their milking stools for machines to produce enough dairy products to meet growing consumer demand.

The technological developments were critical to the formation of California's enormous dairy industry, the largest in the nation. Today, more than 1.7 million cows produce 39.8 billion pounds of milk in California each year, according to the California Milk Advisory Board.

The march of progress continues. The state's dairy industry is now beginning to integrate robots and sophisticated computer software into cow barns to maintain the supply of wholesome and inexpensive dairy foods for Americans. UC Cooperative Extension scientists are poised to help them adapt to the new technologies.

On most California dairies, cows are led two or three times each day from the barn to the milking parlor by workers. They clean the cows' udders to remove bacteria and surface dirt, evaluate whether the cow has mastitis, attach the milking machines, and disinfect the cow's teats after milking before taking the cows back to their pens.

“Dairy production is automated, but it is still a very labor intensive activity,” said Fernanda Ferreira, UC Cooperative Extension dairy specialist based at the UC Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center in Tulare. “Farmers always tell us that the most challenging thing they are facing is labor – labor availability, training and cost.”

Milking robots – a technology already being used in dairies in the Midwest and Eastern U.S., Europe, South America and Canada – promises greater automation, reduced labor needs and improved animal welfare.

View a short video clip of the milking robot in action.

The machines don't resemble a stereotypical robot character, but rather are computerized boxes large enough to fit one cow, with a robot arm programmed to reach under the cow and clamp onto the teats. Cows do not need to be led to the milking machine, but rather walk into the box voluntarily when they are ready to be milked.

The machine recognizes each individual cow by a computer tag around her neck or on the ear, and provides personalized milking service. The robots do all the work: clean the teats, attach the milking machines, and disinfect the teats after the milking is done. While milking, the robot collects data on the cow's output and health.

When it comes to California and all the West, these are very new,” Ferreira said. “We're talking herds that have 1,800 cows on average. Huge herds. Since each of the robotic units, which serve 60 to 70 cows, costs about $120,000, we're also talking about a huge investment.”

Two San Joaquin Valley dairies have already installed milking robots, and many others are interested in the new technology. Ferreira and other researchers from the VMTRC in Tulare are collaborating with one of them to study how the machine and the herd's management can be adapted to better serve large-scale dairy herds like those in California.

“Our idea is to first understand the perspective of the producers who have cows being milked by robots. We want to know what they have learned so far, the challenges they have encountered, their relationship with banks,” Ferreira said. “Relationships with banks are important because most dairies will need to borrow funds to equip their facilities with enough robots for full automation.”

Future research will review issues of milk quality, mastitis management and determine what data farmers will need from the computerized system to improve dairy profitability.

“There are a lot of options available from companies that manufacture the robots. We want to fully understand how they work for our farmers and cows to be able to inform the future of California's dairy industry,” Ferreira said.

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 10:29 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Innovation

Livestock and produce farmers invited to discuss food safety in Stockton and Holtville

At the Good Agriculture Neighbors Workshop, participants will discuss how to assure the safety of fresh produce grown outdoors in the vicinity of livestock and wildlife like this field of leafy greens grown at UC Desert Research and Extension Center.

Livestock operations and fresh produce growers in California are among the most highly regulated in the country, but confusion often exists about what each community does to keep our food safe. The California Good Agriculture Neighbors Workshop: The Produce-Livestock Interface Workshop aims to clarify those roles.

Fruit and vegetable growers, livestock owners and others interested in assuring the safety of fresh produce grown in the vicinity of livestock and wildlife are invited to explore collaborative methods that advance food safety.

At locations in the Central Valley and Imperial Valley, food safety scientists, regulators, growers and ranchers will share what they know about the produce-livestock interface and discuss how we can make food even safer.

“Produce and livestock farmers in Southern California won't want to miss this seminar on food safety June 11 at Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville,” says Jose Luis Aguiar, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops advisor for Riverside County. “Come and hear directly from scientists and regulators about the latest research and regulatory news. The agricultural industry is doing its part to be a good neighbor and work collaboratively to make food safer.”

Participants will gain a better understanding of how co-management of neighboring farms can further enhance food safety, reduce potential for fresh produce outbreaks, and limit liability for both growers and ranchers.

In the morning, speakers will cover laws, regulations and practices that already exist to protect food and environmental safety. In the afternoon, participants will break out into groups to examine how these practices can be leveraged. 

There will be time for discussion with Ag Innovations facilitating the meeting. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and to ask produce safety questions.

The free workshop, subsidized by a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is being offered in Holtville and Stockton. Lunch will be provided. For more information and to register, visit www.wifss.ucdavis.edu/good-ag-neighbors.

June 11, 2019
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Desert Research & Extension Center
1004 East Holton Rd
Holtville, CA 92250

June 13, 2019
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Robert J Cabral Agricultural Center
2101 E. Earhart Ave
Stockton, CA 95206

The produce safety-livestock interface workshops are sponsored by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Western Center for Food Safety at UC Davis, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at UC Davis and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources using cooperative funding from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Western Growers and California Beef Council are sponsoring the lunches.

Posted on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 11:17 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

November News Clips (11/15-11/30)

How they survived: Owners of the few homes left standing around Paradise, Calif., took critical steps to ward off wildfires

(Washington Post) Sarah Kaplan, Frances Stead Sellers, Nov. 30

…Though the United States spends upwards of $2 billion each year on fire suppression and billions more helping communities recover, the current budget for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program is just over $200 million — and it must address hurricanes, earthquakes and a host of other natural hazards as well as fires. Cal Fire provides grants for forest management and tree removal, but not structure modification.

The budget for the University of California Cooperative Extension program, which conducts fire research and outreach to homeowners, has been cut by almost half since 2000. There are now fewer than 20 extension advisers in forestry and fire serving a state with 40 million people and 15 million acres of public lands.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/how-they-survived-owners-of-the-few-homes-left-standing-around-paradise-calif-took-critical-steps-to-ward-off-wildfires/2018/11/30/db323782-f34b-11e8-80d0-f7e1948d55f4_story.html

Opinion | To Help Prevent the Next Big Wildfire, Let the Forest Burn

(NY Times) Ash Ngu and Sahil Chinoy, Nov. 29

Before Euro-American settlement in the 1800s, fires burned about 1.5 million acres of forest each year, on average, according to an analysis of fire return intervals by Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley. Skies were most likely smoky through much of the summer and fall, and most forests in California burned every five to 25 years from wildfires caused by lightning or Native American burning practices, he said.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/29/opinion/sunday/california-wildfires-forest-management.html

Farmers make a “Romaine Recovery” after E. coli Outbreak

(NBC PalmSprings) Daytona Everett, Nov. 28

The FDA has now connected the Central Coast of California to 43 cases of E. coli across the country. However, romaine lettuce farmers in the Coachella Valley are just now bringing in their first winter harvest.

...The FDA now requires every package to “clearly and prominently label all individually packaged romaine products to identify growing region and harvest date for romaine; and to clearly and prominently label at the point of sale the growing region when it is now possible for romaine lettuce suppliers to label the package (e.g. individual unwrapped whole heads of romaine lettuce available in retail stores).”

“That also gets difficult because they harvest the lettuce and they stick a bunch of these in a box and then they go to a processing facility and you may be combining several different fields at once when you're processing that,” Milt Mcgiffen, an extension vegetable specialist from UC Riverside, said.

https://nbcpalmsprings.com/2018/11/28/farmers-make-a-romaine-recovery-after-e-coli-outbreak

Wildfire, Landscapes and Debris Fields: Mapping Risks After Major Wildfire

(Capital Public Radio) Beth Duncan, Nov. 27

Geologist spend a lot of time creating landslide risk maps after a major wildfire happens. The slope of the landscape, amount of rainfall and underlying geology of an area all play a role in how likely an area might be affected.

Forestry Specialist William Stewart explains what geologists are concerned about as winter storms move through the areas hit by wildfire this year.

“After the wildfire, there's a lot of burnt logs and other things there, but what happens when it starts raining is it'll saturate the soil and you'll start to get soil movement. And once you get a fair bit of it moving down, it can pick up boulders and other things in the soil, and pull down whole trees. So a debris flow has both mud and water and big chunks of rocks and logs in there and that's what if it hits a bridge or a home, or commercial center, can just wipe it out. It's just a huge amount of force that just levels everything in its path.”

http://www.capradio.org/news/insight/2018/11/27/wildfire-landscapes-and-debris-fields-mapping-risks-after-major-wildfire/

California Economic Summit Looks to Elevate Rural California

(AgNetWest) Brian German, Nov. 27

…“One of the things we really started digging into these last few years there, as part of our Working Landscapes Action Team and the summit as a whole, is this concept of there's two California's here,” said Vice President of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Glenda Humiston. “You've got predominately coastal, large, urban areas here that are doing pretty well. But then you've got the rest of California that's still really hurting. High poverty, high unemployment, not the economic opportunities that they ought to have.”

Humiston explained that at last year's summit they were able to launch the Elevate Rural California initiative, with a goal of addressing three specific areas over the next few years. “Water infrastructure, biomass, high-value biomass opportunities I want to qualify that strongly, and then the broadband, particularly rural broadband,” Humiston noted.

http://agnetwest.com/california-economic-summit-rural/

Why There Are Challenges To Doing More Prescribed Burns As Part Of Forest Management

(NPR All Things Considered) Ezra David Romero, Nov. 27

…But can the use of prescribed burns be expanded?

Roger Bales with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced says yes. “They can be scaled up as long as we can provide the financing to do them,” Bales said. “As long as we do them in a way that doesn't degrade the air quality.”

…The cost of a prescribed burn varies depending on time of year and resources. Robert York with UC Berkeley's Blodgett Forest Research Station says the warmer and drier the climate, the more expensive a burn.

Still, York supports burning year-round. “If the conditions are good, let's have lots of burns going on in the Sierra Nevada,” he said.

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/27/670677071/why-there-are-challenges-to-doing-more-prescribed-burns-as-part-of-forest-manage

Field Scouting Guide: Palmer Amaranth

(Growing Produce) Karli Petrovic, Nov. 27

This month's field scouting guide concentrates on Amaranthus palmeri S. Watson (Palmer amaranth). We've reached out to weed scientists to learn how to spot and treat this weed.

Our contributors are Lynn Brandenberger, Oklahoma State University; W. Carroll Johnson, III, Ph.D., USDA-ARS; Mohsen B. Mesgaran, Ph.D., University of California, Davis; and Lynn M. Sosnoskie, Ph.D., University of California Cooperative Extension.

https://www.growingproduce.com/vegetables/field-scouting-guide-palmer-amaranth

Who is Responsible for Burned Trees After a Wildfire?

(NPR Morning Edition) Eric Whitney, Nov. 26

…SCOTT STEPHENS: I would be very nervous about big oaks and potential for them to come down because the oaks, a lot of times, have heart rot. They have rotten material inside the center. And a lot of times a smoldering fire can burn in there for days and days and days. I've been around oaks like that. And all of a sudden, a week later - boom - it comes down.

WHITNEY: The danger can persist a lot longer than a week, Stephens says, as burned trees that are strong now continue to deteriorate.

STEPHENS: Probably by year four, five, they start to really get less structurally sound. Then, of course, you get a wind event, big storms, and they start coming down in earnest. And by year 10, they're coming down a great deal.

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/26/670752900/who-is-responsible-for-burned-trees-after-a-wildfire

California dairy program celebrates 20 years

DairyBusiness, Nov. 26

…Recognizing a need to respond and be proactive, a committee of dairy producers, government agency representatives, industry leaders, and university specialists gathered to create the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP), ensuring high-quality milk production and continuous improvement in environmental stewardship. It was also a prime opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of the California dairy industry to producing high quality, safe products, in an environmentally friendly, animal-care conscience manner. Initial funding was provided by the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF). Dr. Michael Payne, a University of California veterinary researcher was brought on board to direct the program and Dr. Deanne Meyer, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist, was enlisted to develop educational programs. Continued CDRF funding provided an important direct tie to dairy producers through check off dollars, and industry expertise.

https://www.dairybusiness.com/california-dairy-program-celebrates-20-years/

Are Your Vineyards Smart Enough to Beat the Heat?

(Growing Produce) Matthew Fidelibus, Nov. 24

…A number of strategies can be considered to adapt to increasing temperatures. Small increases in temperature might be mitigated by employing various cultural practices including pruning, irrigation and fertilization, canopy management, and crop protectants, which may help reduce fruit exposure and reduce crop load.

Irrigation and fertilization can be used to help establish sufficient canopy shade before heat waves occur. The possibility of having overexposed fruit during heat waves should be considered when evaluating canopy management practices such as leafing and shoot positioning. Crop protectants such as particle films may provide protection for overexposed fruit.

https://www.growingproduce.com/fruits/grapes/are-your-vineyards-smart-enough-to-beat-the-heat

Fighting fire with fire via ‘pyrosilviculture'

(Davis Enterprise) Jeannette Warnert, Nov. 21

…The event also raised awareness of “pyrosilviculture,” a new forest management term coined by UC fire scientist Rob York to emphasize the importance of fire in silviculture, the management of forests for wood.

https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/fighting-fire-with-fire-via-pyrosilviculture/

Fixing state's fire problem: Costly, complex, next to impossible

(SF Chronicle) Kurtis Alexander, Nov. 21

…Bill Stewart, a forestry specialist at UC Berkeley, said that technology has helped fire scientists pinpoint areas where wind, heat, vegetation and other factors conspire to pose the greatest threats. It's just that the risk maps aren't being used to guide development.

“We need more than an academic paper here and there on wind,” Stewart said. “The number of windy days per year should help determine new zoning policy for planners.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/california-wildfires/article/Fixing-state-s-fire-problem-Costly-complex-13406892.php

Actually, Even California Says Trump Is Right About the Wildfires

(RealClear Politics) Betsy McCaughey, Nov. 21

President Donald Trump's critics are belittling him for not buying the politically correct narrative that global warming is to blame for the California wildfires. Instead, Trump correctly points to decades of mistakes by state and federal forest agencies that caused the woodlands to be become overly dense and blanketed with highly flammable dead wood and underbrush.

… This multifaceted approach is too much to put in a mere tweet. But University of California forest expert Yana Valachovic concedes that Trump's "general sentiment is correct."

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2018/11/21/the_burning_issue_with_california_fires__138713.html

Living on the Edge

(Slate Magazine) James B. Meigs, Nov. 20

…But the photos tell a different story. Within Paradise itself, the main fuel feeding the fire wasn't trees, nor the underbrush Trump suggested should have been raked up. It was buildings. The forest fire became an infrastructure fire. Fire researchers Faith Kearns and Max Moritz describe what can happen when a wildfire approaches a suburban neighborhood during the high-wind conditions common during the California fall: First, a “storm of burning embers” will shower the neighborhood, setting some structures on fire. “Under the worst circumstances, wind driven home-to-home fire spread then occurs, causing risky, fast-moving ‘urban conflagrations' that can be almost impossible to stop and extremely dangerous to evacuate.” The town of Paradise didn't just experience a fast-moving wildfire, its own layout, building designs, and city management turned that fire into something even scarier.

…Of course, when fires do occur, the residents of these areas suffer the most. The question is how to provide the right incentives for people so that we limit the chances of this happening again. Looking ahead, “We need to ensure that prospective homeowners can make informed decisions about the risks they face in the WUI,” Moritz, Tague, and Anderson say.

https://slate.com/technology/2018/11/camp-fire-disaster-causes-urban-wildland-interface.html

Why California Can't Chainsaw Its Way Out Of A Raging Inferno

(BuzzFeed) Peter Aldhous, Nov. 20

…Still, supporters of thinning argue that it is a viable option in some forests, especially dry pine and mixed-conifer forests at lower elevations. Historically, forests like these burned with low intensity every decade or so, keeping them patchy and fairly sparse. There, decades of fire suppression should be countered with careful thinning to mimic the natural state, according to Scott Stephens, a forestry scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Stephens has compared low-elevation forests in Southern California with those over the border in Baja California, Mexico, where fire suppression didn't begin until the 1970s. The naturally patchy Mexican forests, he has found, are much more resilient: Even in the face of a four-year drought and a 2003 wildfire, only 20% of the trees died. (In the Cedar fire in San Diego County that same year, between 40% and 95% of trees in the affected areas perished.)

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/peteraldhous/logging-forest-california-wildfires

California's Fire Season Extends Beyond Summer Months (AUDIO)

(NPR Morning Edition) Nov. 20

Steve Inskeep talks to Lenya Quinn-Davidson, fire adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension, about what an extended fire season means for state residents.

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/20/669482111/californias-fire-season-extends-beyond-summer-months

Santa Maria-Bonita School Districts teams up with 4H for kids career day

(KEYT) Naja Hill, Nov. 18

Santa Maria-Bonita School Districts came together for a career and leadership day at Liberty Elementary. The event, called 4H SNAC, was a collaboration between UC CalFresh Nutrition and the youth organization 4 H. SNAC stands for Student Nutrition Advisory Council.

The goal of the youth program is to advocate child development to 5th and 6th graders in underserved, low-income communities. Various guest speakers came to teach kids how to live a healthy lifestyle.

The event was 4H's 4th annual career day. One topic of focus was presentation skills. The students also got an opportunity to speak to professionals from different fields such as firefighters, a nurse, and a dentist.

https://www.keyt.com/news/santa-maria-bonita-school-districts-teams-up-with-4h-for-kids-career-day/872891650

Trump suggests Californians can rake their forests to prevent wildfires. (He is wrong.)

(Washington Post) Avi Selk, Nov. 18

“His general sentiment is correct — that we need to manage fuels,” said Yana Valachovic a forest adviser with the University of California's Cooperative Extension program. “And yeah, managing that pine litter adjacent to our homes and buildings is super important. … But the reality is, to manage every little bit of fuel with a rake is not practical.”

Raking is an effective way to clear light debris like leaves and pine needles away from residences, she said. It's of much less use on the forest floor, where infernos burn through swaths of brush and large debris that only heavy machinery can clear.

California's problems are complicated, she said — a combination of hot, dry climates, poor community design and “100 years of fire suppression” that helped turn forests into tinder boxes.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/11/18/trump-suggests-californians-can-rake-their-forests-prevent-wildfires-he-is-wrong

How Trump administration pressure to dump 4-H's LGBT policy led to Iowa leader's firing

Courtney Crowder and Jason Clayworth, Des Moines Register, Nov. 18

Katherine Soule, the chair of an LGBT working group in 2016 and a leader of California's 4-H, said group leaders were asked to adapt the Obama administration's Dear Colleague letter protecting gender-identity rights for 4-H.

Soules and a group of Western 4-H leaders created a best-practices document that became the foundation of a national guidance document.

...The about-face on the LGTB policy by national 4-H headquarters left some 4-H volunteers angry and program officials confused, according to the Register's investigation.

“I feel bad for the folks at USDA,” Glenda Humiston, the vice president of the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources, told other 4-H leaders during a May training video. “I think they are in between a rock and a hard place.”

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/2018/11/18/4-h-transgender-lgbt-iowa-john-paul-chaisson-cardenas-iowa-state-university-civil-rights/1572199002/

Lessons from Camp Fire: Staying alive in California fire country

(Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, Nov. 17

Even as smoke chokes the sky and shrouds the sun, millions of Bay Area and other California residents remain unprepared for the next inferno.

…“You can only pour so many cars into different arteries at the same time,” said J. Keith Gilless, professor and dean emeritus at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources.

…“Fewer than half of families in our area have taken the time to sit down, write out an emergency plan, discuss it with family members and maybe even do a practice run,” said UC Berkeley's Gilless.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/11/17/lessons-from-paradise-staying-alive-in-fire-country

Facts Matter: President's posts on wildfires misleading

(Chicago Daily Herald) Bob Oswald, Nov. 17

The current wildfires aren't forest fires and are not the responsibility of forest management, the Times said.

"These fires aren't even in forests," Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told the Times.

The Camp and Woolsey fires began where communities are close to undeveloped areas, the Times said. Fires in these locations are more deadly and costly because of the proximity to homes and towns.

https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20181117/facts-matter-presidents-posts-on-wildfires-misleading

Why didn't PG&E shut down power in advance of deadly Camp Fire? Here's the data.

(Mercury News) Matthias Gafni, Nov. 17

…Thomas Scott, who has written about fire management in California's wildland urban interface and works with the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, wonders if the decision to keep power on may have had to do with the complaints the utility received after its October shutdown.

“Any rationale they had for keeping the lines hot has tragically backfired for everyone involved,” he said. “Can't understand what they were contemplating; perhaps they maintained power until the last possible moment because that action breeds unhappy customers and dangerous situations if power is turned off.”

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/11/17/why-didnt-pge-shut-down-power-in-advance-of-deadly-camp-fire-heres-the-data

Examining Jerry Brown's veto of California wildfire legislation and the criticism of it

(Politifact) Chris Nichols, Nov. 16

Bill Stewart, a forestry specialist at UC Berkeley, reviewed the bill and Brown's veto message. He said in an email, "I do not think it would have made much of a difference, as the amount of funds was not that great ($582,000 that may have just led to some hiring of consultants and a lot interaction with the communities) and, more importantly, no new advances would have been made."

Stewart, however, went on to describe the legislation as "a good shot across the bow to the (Brown) administration to do more. This area of risk assessment and mitigation has been woefully underfunded for decades."

https://www.politifact.com/california/article/2018/nov/16/examining-jerry-browns-veto-2016-wildfire-legislat

How fierce fall and winter winds help fuel California fires

(The Conversation) Faith Kearns and Max Moritz, Nov. 16

… Fire hazard is determined by a variety of factors that include vegetation, topography and weather. Add people and homes, and you get fire risk. While wind is one of the biggest factors in fire spread, it also generates flying embers far ahead of the fire itself.

… Managing the type and amount of vegetation, or “fuel,” in an area provides a set of tools for altering fire behavior in wildland fires. But during wind-driven urban conflagrations, homes are usually a major – if not the main – source of fuel.

…As residents and researchers who have worked extensively on fire in California, we believe the state and its newly elected leadership face a formidable challenge and an opportunity to reinvest in a robust, interdisciplinary approach to wildfire risk reduction that combines the best of both research and practice. It must integrate both new (and potentially controversial) urban planning reforms as well as novel thinking about evacuation alternatives.

https://theconversation.com/how-fierce-fall-and-winter-winds-help-fuel-california-fires-106985

California Citrus Network Now Available as Grower Resource

(AgNetWest) Nov. 16

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has launched the California Citrus Network as a means to address industry concerns through a collaborative approach.  The new website will be another resource available to those involved with citrus production who may have questions or concerns about their operation.

“If they see something out in the field that's unusual, they can snap some pictures with their smartphone or their tablet and they can go onto the forum site,” said UCCE Area Citrus Advisor for Tulare, Fresno, and Madera Counties Greg Douhan.  “Let's say you think something is some sort of disease issue, you can go in there and look on that and see if anybody else has been seeing the same thing.  Or you can post a question and say, ‘hey I'm finding this unusual situation out in my field, is anybody else seeing this?' so it's just a way to communicate.”

http://agnetwest.com/california-citrus-network-now-available

Editorial: Horrifying infernos in California

(Providence RI Journal) Nov. 16

California deals with wildfires on an annual basis. Parts of the state were ravaged earlier this summer. But what has happened this month alone will make 2018 the worst year on record.

Five separate wildfires (named Camp, Nurse, Hill, Woolsey and Peak) in November have burned more than 245,000 acres of land.

…Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California, told the AP that there are “so many ways that can go wrong, in the warning, the modes of getting the message out, the confusion ... the traffic jams.” He suggested local officials consider building “local retreat zones” and “local safety zones” in urban communities to protect residents from the deadly wildfires.

http://www.providencejournal.com/opinion/20181116/editorial-horrifying-infernos-in-california

See how a warmer world primed California for large fires

(National Geographic) Alejandra Borunda, Nov. 15

…Over the past century, California has warmed by about three degrees Fahrenheit. That extra-warmed air sucks water out of plants and soils, leaving the trees, shrubs, and rolling grasslands of the state dry and primed to burn.

That vegetation-drying effect compounds with every degree of warming, explains Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, meaning that plants lose their water more efficiently today than they did before climate change ratcheted up California's temperatures.

…Changes in precipitation are another factor. California's summer dry season has also been lengthening. Each extra day lets plants dry out more, increasing their susceptibility to burning.

“Usually—or, I don't want to even say usually anymore because things are changing so fast—we get some rains around Halloween that wet things down,” says Faith Kearns, a scientist at University of California Institute for Water Resources in Oakland. But in the past few years, those rains haven't come until much later in the autumn—November, or even December.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/11/climate-change-california-wildfire

Why Wildfires Are Burning So Hot and Moving So Fast

(NPR) Kirk Siegler, Nov. 15 

…One recent study predicted several million homes built in the West are at immediate risk. Susie Kocher is a forester with the University of California's Cooperative Extension service here in the Sierra.

“We haven't caught up, and to retrofit our existing housing stock to fend off embers is a long-term, expensive proposition.”

Posted on Monday, December 3, 2018 at 12:07 PM
Tags: 4-H (95), citrus (29), Climate Change (110), dairy (38), vineyards (2), wildfire (181)

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