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Posts Tagged: climate change

ANR in the news November 1-15

Are Blackouts Here to Stay? A Look into the Future

(E&E News) Anne C. Mulkern, Nov. 15

…Throughout the United States, between roughly 2000 and 2010, about 75% of homes that burned in wildfires were located in the WUI, said Van Butsic, a land use specialist at the University of California, Berkeley. The rest was mostly in rural areas, with about 2% in cities.

People go back after they lose homes, Butsic said. He surveyed the 28 largest fires in California from about 1975 to 2005, and through aerial photos tracked what was rebuilt. About 90% of destroyed homes were rebuilt within a decade, he found. New homes also filled in large tracts of undeveloped land in formerly burned areas.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-blackouts-here-to-stay-a-look-into-the-future/

 

Climate Considerations for Processing Tomatoes

(AgNet West) Nov. 15

Research models show that increases in overall temperatures in California will have a direct effect on how some crops are going to be produced in the future.  In one study looking at processing tomato production in the Central Valley, researchers found that changing temperatures will likely have a noticeable impact on the timing of the growing season.

“We looked at the data all the way starting from 1950, into the future by 2030-2040 and see how the time of maturity is changing,” said Tapan Pathak, UC Specialist in Climate Adaptation in Agriculture.  “What we saw is, in general the time from emergence to maturity, the timeframe for processing tomatoes in that region, is going to shrink down almost by two to three weeks.”

http://agnetwest.com/climate-considerations-processing-tomatoes

 

What's Growing On: American rose trials test sustainability

(Stockton Record) Marcy Sousa, Nov. 15

Did you know San Joaquin County Master Gardeners have been part of a National Rose Trial since 2018? The trial is part of the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.) program that has trial sites across the United States. It was initiated in 2012 by individuals representing multiple rose stakeholder groups, including: industry, the scientific community and public gardens. There are only two Mediterranean climate trial locations and both are in California. The trials at the Fullerton Arboretum started in 2019 and the UC Cooperative Extension office in San Joaquin County began in 2018.

…Our Environmental Horticulture Advisor, Karrie Reid, has been managing and overseeing the trial since 2018. Our roses were planted in unused turf areas that were converted to the trial grounds. One of the selling features of converting the turf sections was the calculated water savings: 3,656 square feet of turf used 103,000 gallons of water, while 60 roses in the same area on drip use 6,175 gallons, a 94 percent savings. Trial sites are covered with a 3-inch layer of wood mulch.

https://www.recordnet.com/entertainmentlife/20191114/whats-growing-on-american-rose-trials-test-sustainability

 

Report: California ag is a major economic driver for the state

(Agri-Pulse West) Brad Hooker, Nov. 13

 A new report by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) adds new dimensions to the “massive economic juggernaut” of the California agricultural industry. The findings reveal that agriculture contributed more than $263 billion to the economy in 2018 through direct sales and employed more than 1.2 million people, while benefiting urban and rural regions alike.

The report examines the entire “working landscape,” which also includes fishing, forestry, mining, outdoor recreation and renewable energy, in addition to agricultural distribution, production, processing and support. Together, the sectors represent $333 billion in sales, 1.5 million jobs and 6.4% of the total California economy, outranking the healthcare, real estate, construction and retail sectors. Agriculture accounted for 85% of the working landscape businesses and 79% of the sales income. According to ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston, the working landscape likely surpasses the finance sector as well.

https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/12830-report-california-ag-is-a-major-economic-driver-for-the-state

 

UCCE Addressing Watergrass Issues in California Rice Fields

(AgNet West) Brian German, Nov. 13

Researchers from UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) are looking closely at the watergrass issues in California rice fields to get a better understanding of the problem.  Watergrass has historically been a fairly common weed species that growers face, however in recent years the issue has been compounded by a number of factors. Several watergrass species have demonstrated resistance to the materials available and it appears that one or two new species may have emerged.

“In the past few years watergrass is becoming more and more of a problem, whether it's the ones that we know that we have or these possible new species,” said Whitney Brim-DeForest, UC Rice Farm Advisor serving Sutter, Yuba, Placer, and Sacramento Counties. “It's just becoming more difficult to control with the herbicides that we have.”

http://agnetwest.com/ucce-watergrass-issues-california-rice-fields/

 

Experts Warn Of Surge In Sudden Oak Death Infections In North Bay

(KPIX) Wilson Walker, Nov. 12

“And then, of course, these limbs that have just fallen off,” said Kerry Wininger of UC Cooperative Extension as he stood beneath a dying tree in Sonoma County's Fairfield Osborn Preserve. “And big patches will come out at once.”

Wininger is with the UC team working to measure the problem, and the numbers are up dramatically. She oversees a yearly survey conducted by volunteer citizen scientists.

…“For Sonoma County in general, Sudden Oak Death numbers look about double where they were last year,” said Wininger. “So it's actually increasing at a rate a little bit faster than we would expect.”

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/11/12/experts-warn-of-surge-in-sudden-oak-death-infections-in-north-bay/

 

Shelter exercise at the fairgrounds

(Appeal Democrat) Ruby Larson, Nov. 12

Some Glenn County agencies came together at the Glenn County Fairgrounds to participate in a shelter management training exercise last week. 

…Travis said agencies that participated included Health and Human Services, sheriff's office, animal control, UC Cooperative Extension and North Valley Animal Disaster Group.

https://www.appeal-democrat.com/glenn_county_transcript/shelter-exercise-at-the-fairgrounds/article_61f7af0a-05a6-11ea-b71d-97fadf761551.html

 

California's Wildfire Policy Totally Backfired. Native Communities Know How to Fix It.

(Mother Jones) Delilah Friedler, Nov. 11

…“We aren't anywhere near bringing fire back at the scale we need to,” says Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension who helped lead that burn. “It's important to push forward with a grassroots model that empowers people to do the work, instead of having bottlenecks with the agency that's in charge.”

The Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association, which Quinn-Davidson leads, was the first organization of its kind in the West when it started in 2018, and has already inspired similar groups to start up in northern California's Plumas, Nevada, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. These groups bring landowners and neighbors together to provide the manpower that controlled burns require. Quinn-Davidson says she's hosted 25 lecture and field-based workshops in the past year to increase people's comfort with prescribed fire, and in the past two years, she's led 20 burns on private lands.

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2019/11/californias-wildfire-controlled-prescribed-burns-native-americans/

 

Zediker honored as CattleWoman of the year

(Siskiyou Daily News) Nov. 10

Siskiyou County native Jacki Zediker was honored on Saturday, Oct. 26 as the 2019 Siskiyou County CattleWoman of the Year during the annual Cattlemen and CattleWomen's dinner in Yreka.

… Zediker has been the 4-H Youth Development Program Representative with the UC Cooperative Extension in Siskiyou County for more than 20 years, and has served as the regional coordinator for the North State counties in recent years, the CattleWomen said.

 

Insect entrepreneurs use almond hulls as feed source for bugs 

(Daily Democrat) Ching Lee, Nov. 8

…Maurice Pitesky, a UC Cooperative Extension veterinarian and specialist in poultry health and food-safety epidemiology, conducted an experiment two years ago on pastured layers, feeding up to 20% of the birds' diet with soldier fly larvae “with no change in welfare, egg quality, mortality.” The larvae feed provides methionine, an essential amino acid for poultry, and has “significant potential” to increase poultry production while freeing “more corn and soy calories for humans,” he said, though he warned of two caveats: economics and consistency of manufacturing the feed.

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/insect-entrepreneurs-use-almond-hulls-as-feed-source-for-bugs

 

Paradise rebuilds, but fire safety sometimes takes a back seat to economic realities

(LA Times) Laura Newberry, Nov. 8

…“Having this zone right next to a building is pretty important,” said Steve Quarles, a senior scientist with the Institute for Business & Home Safety who studied homes in Paradise after the fire. “No matter what the homeowner does in terms of vegetation management on the property, embers can blow over and ignite that woodpile next to the house.”

For the Record (LA Times) Nov. 12

Camp fire: In the Nov. 8 Section A, an article looking at the changes in Paradise, Calif., since the Camp fire a year earlier misidentified Steve Quarles as a senior scientist with the Institute for Business & Home Safety. Quarles has retired from that post and now serves as a UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-11-08/rebuilding-paradise-one-year-after-camp-fire

 

Sudden oak death rebounds in Sonoma County, spreads in California

(Press Democrat) Guy Kovner, Nov. 8

… Matteo Garbelotto, director of the forest pathology and mycology laboratory at UC Berkeley, said discovery of the two infected tanoaks in Del Norte County was a signature finding of this year's sudden oak death survey, known as the SOD Blitz, organized by his lab since 2008.

“It's a good thing that we detected it because the sooner we know, the more options available to minimize the impact of the disease,” he said.

https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10262894-181/sudden-oak-death-rebounds-in

 

 The 2050 challenge

(Iowa Farm Bureau) Teresa Bjork, Nov. 8

…Dr. Frank Mitloehner, an air quality extension specialist at the University of California-Davis, said American consumers don't realize that modern agriculture practices have helped increase our food supply while decreasing potential greenhouse gas emissions.

“It's time for us to explain what we do in agriculture in a way that the public understands,” Mitloehner said.

https://www.iowafarmbureau.com/Article/The-2050-challenge

 

Sudden oak death spreading fast, California's coastal forests facing devastation

(San Francisco Chronicle) Peter Fimrite, Nov. 7

…The rate of trees infected almost doubled in 2019 — from 3.5% to 5.9% — and was 10 times higher in some places compared with the 2018 survey, said Matteo Garbelotto, the director of the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory, which tested leaf samples taken by 422 volunteers.

...“There was a significant increase in infection rates over last year, but that's not totally surprising because we had a lot more rainfall,” Garbelotto said. “But it was a surprise to see them all at once. It's telling us we are entering a different phase of the disease, where the organism isn't really establishing itself in new areas, but is showing itself more when weather conditions are favorable.”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/environment/article/Sudden-oak-death-spreading-fast-California-s-14815683.php# 

 

We mapped every wine country fire. They're larger and more destructive than ever

(Los Angeles Times) Priya Krishnakumar, Nov. 7

…Why is this happening? Scientists point to rising temperatures and the effects of Santa Ana and Diablo winds on increasingly dry terrain.

“In a way, climate change is priming the landscape to ignitions,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at UC Santa Barbara.

…Experts say many of the losses are due to increased development, as more and more homes have been built in areas prone to fire.

“The homes are the fuels,” Moritz said. “We see these burned neighborhoods where there are still shrubs and trees, and it's clear the homes propogated the fire.”

https://www.latimes.com/projects/wine-country-fires-california-sonoma-napa/

 

Water users making case in bankruptcy court; Cal Fire says dry canal poses fire hazards

(Chico News & Review) Ashiah Scharaga, Nov. 7

…Gosselin said the county is scheduling another meeting with water users for January. While “we cannot get in the middle and restore water to the Middle Miocene,” he said, it is exploring a project with Del Oro to extend water service on Pentz Road, which would help some of the folks who have been served by the canal. The UC Cooperative Extension is also close to completing an economic study related to the loss of the Miocene on water users, and Gosselin intends to seek grants and other funding for water supply reliability projects.

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/missing-in-action/content?oid=29213484

 

Farm City Newsday Thursday, 11-07-19

(AgNet West) Danielle Leal

Get the latest agriculture news in today's Farm City Newsday, hosted by Danielle Leal. Today's show is filled with stories covering the current disconnect in state and federal hemp regulations, California's working landscape sector providing significant economic value and details on the Almond Board of California's conference silent auction that benefits FFA students and how you can help. Tune in to the show for these news stories, recipes, features and more.

http://agnetwest.com/farm-city-newsday-thursday-11-07-19/

 

California working landscapes generate $333 billion in sales and 1.5 million jobs

(News release) Pam Kan-Rice

 

Power shutoffs leave some farmers feeling ‘helpless'

(Ag Alert) Ching Lee, Nov. 6

… "If they've lost cooler capacity or the ability to wash product, not only are they taking a hit on the expense side, but they have less to sell," Placer County sheep rancher Dan Macon said. "That's kind of a double whammy for a number of folks."

… Wineries also are running into this problem, said Anita Oberholster, an enology specialist for University of California Cooperative Extension. Those operating on generators are running low on fuel and can't get it to their wineries, which need power not only to process fruit but to control temperature during the fermentation process. Because yeast can generate a significant amount of heat during fermentation, an inability to control temperature could affect the quality of the wine, she said.

… "People are making the investments they need to make, but it's stuff that's outside the normal course of business, and I think there'll be some financial impacts from that in terms of this season's profitability," he said.

As a UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, Macon said the outage has prompted him to start sending a survey to farmers in an effort "to catalog resources that are out there and available for sharing in situations like this," whether it's generators, water-hauling capacity or, in the case of fire, the ability to load livestock quickly and safely.

http://www.agalert.com/story/?id=13411

 

Spring rains likely caused waterlogging of walnut trees

(Farm Press) Logan Hawkes, Nov. 6

…Luke Milliron, UCCE Farm Advisor in Butte, Glenn, and Tehama Counties and Janine Hasey, UCCE Farm Advisor Emeritus, also addressed the topic in a recent blog post.

“Plant roots need to breathe,” they wrote. “This process of respiration is critical to energy production in roots. Saturated surface soil moisture levels restrict root access to atmospheric oxygen, limiting the energy production of respiration and eventually resulting in root asphyxiation (death).”

https://www.farmprogress.com/tree-nuts/spring-rains-likely-caused-waterlogging-walnut-trees

 

California agriculture in 2050 – where we are headed and why

(CDFA blog) Nov. 5

At its monthly meeting today, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture heard a cautiously optimistic appraisal of agriculture's future through 2050 from economist Dr. Daniel Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis. Dr. Sumner believes that net farm income will continue to grow, even though it may experience ups and downs, and that growth specifics will hinge on the management of five key cost factors:

https://plantingseedsblog.cdfa.ca.gov/wordpress/?p=19531

 

Beckstoffer Vineyards, in Partnership with University of California, Davis and Duarte Nursery, Launches Groundbreaking Clonal and Rootstock Trial Addressing Climate Change and Improved Grape Quality in Cabernet Sauvignon

(Wine Industry Advisor) Nov. 5

Andy Beckstoffer, perhaps the most recognized California grower of wine grapes, announced that Beckstoffer Vineyards, in partnership with University of California, Davis and Duarte Nursery, has launched a groundbreaking trial addressing climate change and improved grape quality for Cabernet Sauvignon at Beckstoffer's Amber Knolls Vineyard in the Red Hills of Lake County.  University of California, Davis called the trial “the mother of Cabernet research trials.”

https://wineindustryadvisor.com/2019/11/06/beckstoffer-vineyards-uc-davis-duarte-nursery-launches-groundbreaking-clonal-rootstock-trial

 

Study: California's working landscape supports more than 1.5 million jobs

(Fruit Grower News) Nov. 5

California's working landscape and the industries associated with agriculture and natural resources contribute significantly to the state's economy, according to a new study by the California Community Colleges Centers of Excellence for Labor Market ResearchCalifornia Economic Summit and the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

https://fruitgrowersnews.com/news/study-californias-working-landscape-supports-more-than-1-5-million-jobs/

 

UC scientists seek innovative uses of ag waste

 (Farm Press) Chris Brunner, Nov. 5

…Historically these waste materials have been used as a rich source of compost. However, scientists 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.

https://www.farmprogress.com/dairy/uc-scientists-seek-innovative-uses-ag-waste

 

Shifting Winds in Fire Management

 (Noozhawk) Harrison Tasoff, Nov. 4

…“We are mixing up the problem of forest and fuel management with the problem of wildland-urban interface fires,” said Max Moritz, an adjunct professor at UC Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Management and a statewide Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist.

https://www.noozhawk.com/article/shifting_winds_in_fire_management

 

Early UC hemp research already yielding results

(Farm Press) Jeannette Warnert, Nov. 4

For the first time ever, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers harvested an industrial hemp crop at one of its nine research and extension centers this fall.

“It's an interesting crop,” said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Bob Hutmacher. “There is a tremendous amount of research that can be done to understand its growth and best cultural practices, optimal planting dates either by seed or transplants, irrigation and fertilization management, and, particularly, to address pest and disease management.”

 https://www.farmprogress.com/hemp/early-uc-hemp-research-already-yielding-results

 

Day of the Dead – More Than a Colorful Sugar Skull, UC ANR Says

(Sierra Sun Times)  Ricardo A. Vela, Nov. 2

 - Many of us in the US have seen or heard something about the Mexican celebration El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), whether it's a reference in a horror movie or a community fair where children get their faces painted as colorful skulls. For many, that is the extent of their knowledge of this millenary, radiant and vibrant Mexican celebration.

https://www.goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/20792-day-of-the-dead-more-than-a-colorful-sugar-skull-uc-anr-says

 

Early UC Hemp Research Already Yielding Results

(CalAg Today), Nov. 2

For the first time ever, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers harvested an industrial hemp crop at one of its nine research and extension centers this fall.

"It's an interesting crop," said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Bob Hutmacher. "We don't have a lot of experience in UC ANR with hemp at this time. There is a tremendous amount of research that can be done to understand its growth and best cultural practices, optimal planting dates either by seed or transplants, irrigation and fertilization management, and, particularly, to address pest and disease management."

https://californiaagtoday.com/early-uc-hemp-research-already-yielding-results/

 

In Woodlake, One Motivated Couple And A Mile-Long Garden Inspire Children And Flowers To Flourish

(KVPR) Alice Daniel, Nov. 1

…And that's the point, right there. It's why two life-long Woodlake residents, Olga and Manuel Jimenez started the garden 16 years. Ago. It's named for the lake next to it. Taking care of the garden builds character, Manuel says. And strong work skills, and relationships. 

… It sits between a lake and a road on land the city bought with a rails to trails grant, so it's far longer than it is wide. Manuel's retired now but he designed it when he was still a UC small farm advisor. 

https://www.kvpr.org/post/woodlake-one-motivated-couple-and-mile-long-garden-inspire-children-and-flowers-flourish

 

California Fire Danger Continues to Worsen, Experts Say

(Wall St J) Jim Carlton, Nov. 1

…“There's no simple problem and no one simple answer,” said Max Moritz, statewide fire specialist based at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-fire-danger-continues-to-worsen-experts-say-11572623148

 

On the Hunt: Study Seeks Answers on Wildlife Exposure to Lethal Rat Poison

(CSU Fullerton) Nov. 1

…Under the mentorship of Paul Stapp, professor of biological science, and in collaboration with scientist Niamh Quinn, a human-wildlife interactions advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Irvine, Burke is studying how native wildlife is exposed to rodenticides. Burke has been working on the research over the past two years for his thesis project.

…For his project, Burke set up bait stations — tamper-proof black boxes — at 90 sites in Orange County — in the backyards of homeowners who participate in the Master Gardeners of Orange County program, and grow large amounts of fruits and vegetables, which attract animals, including rats.

http://news.fullerton.edu/2019fa/rat-poison-research.aspx

 

As fires rage, pressure mounts to train California's next generation of forest stewards

(Edsource) Sydney Johnson, Nov. 1

… Blake Schmidt, a math teacher at Ross Middle School in Marin County, decided to take his students to Forestry Challenge after participating in a free [UC ANR] statewide program for California teachers called the Forestry Institute for Teachers.

https://edsource.org/2019/as-fires-rage-pressure-mounts-to-train-californias-next-generation-of-forest-stewards/619324

Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2019 at 11:01 AM
Tags: Climate Change (47), hemp (1), nutrition (64), Sudden Oak Death (27), wildfire (95), Wildlife (7)

UN releases major climate change report

Keeping global warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 F) can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including land and food, said the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in a report released Aug. 8, 2019.

The panel of scientists said agriculture, deforestration and other land use - such as harvesting peat and managing grasslands and wetlands - generate about one-third of human greenhouse gas emissions and 44% of methane emissions. The panel suggests that farmland be reduced and forestland increased to keep the earth from getting more than 1.5 degrees C hotter than in the pre-industrial era. Global temperatures have already risen about 1 degree C in the past 150 years. 

Currently, about 50% of the globe's vegetated land is dedicated to agriculture — and about 30% of cropland is used to grow grain for animal feed. Given how much land it takes to grow food to feed livestock, meat production is a leading cause of deforestation, reported National Public Radio

Cattle ranchers dispute the UN report that links cows to climate change, said a story on CBS This Morning, which quoted UC Cooperative Extension animal science specialist Frank Mitloehner. Mitloehner studies livestock and air quality. He told the news station that Americans should focus on the energy wasted on food they don't consume.

“Forty percent of all food produced in this country goes to waste and you know who the main culprit is? You and I,” Mitloehner said. “So if you're really concerned about your personal environmental footprint around food, well, waste less.”

UCCE animal science specialist Frank Mitloehner. (Photo: UC Davis)
Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 9:36 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Environment

Climate and California agriculture of the future

One of the forces driving agricultural experiments in California's fertile San Joaquin Valley is climate change, reported Mark Schapiro on Grist.org. Although some sources still don't feel completely comfortable with the concept.

"Whether it's carbon built up in the atmosphere or just friggin' bad luck, the conditions are straining us," said John Duarte, president of Duarte Nursery.

The state's fruit and nut orchards are taking the most heat as conditions change. A fruit or nut tree planted today may be ill-suited to climatic conditions by the time it begins bearing fruit in 5 or 10 years. Between 1950 and 2009, “chill” hours trees needed annually to reboot trees' metabolic system for the spring bloom had already declined by as much as 30 percent, according to a California Department of Food and Agriculture study.

“If trees haven't had that low-chill period when they wake up in the spring, it's like being up all night and then trying to go to work.” said Mae Culumber, a nut crop advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County.

Researchers have already observed that cherry, apricot, pear, apple, pecan and almond trees are often less productive than they used to be.

Scientists expect pistachio trees to be more resilient to California climate change than the ubiquitous almond.

The article said farmers may turn to pistachio trees to weather a warmer and dryer California. Pistachio trees require one-third to one-half as much water as almond trees. During droughts, pistachio tree metabolism slows and when water returns, they start producing nuts again. And they can produce nuts for 80 years or longer, almost four times the life span of an average almond tree. 

For field crops, scientists are looking at improving the soil and transforming growing systems to help farmers adapt to the warming climate.  

“When I drive to the Central Valley, I get goosebumps; I feel the urgency,” UC Davis agronomist Amélie Gaudin said. “I see an agriculture that is basically hydroponics. It's like a person being fed/kept alive by an IV.”

“What happens when you no longer have the sugar-water?” she adds.

Gaudin is focusing on using agroecological principles to develop efficient and resilient cropping systems. Planting cover crops and reducing tillage show promise for mitigating the impact of climate change in the valley.

Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 3:34 PM
Tags: almonds (30), climate change (47), Mae Culumber (1), pistachios (7)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

The cover cropped-field is the 'real disruptor'

KQED reporter Mark Schapiro discovered a "center of insurrection" at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points, where UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell has been building soil on a research plot for 20 years.

Schapiro's story was part of a series titled "Reckoning in the Central Valley," a collaboration between Bay Nature magazine and KQED Science examining how climate change is exposing the vulnerabilities of California agriculture.

In the Central Valley, climate change is disrupting the predictability that is key to maintaining a profitable industrial agriculture system. Mitchell believes that employing practices that build soil - such as reducing or eliminating tillage and planting cover crops - will help farmers ride the wave of climate change.

It's that cover-cropped field “that is the real disruptor here," Mitchell said.

The soil in test plots where cover crops were grown are loaded with far more organic matter than soil in fields where cover crops were not grown. The organic matter improves water absorption, making the land more resilient to drier conditions. Fields with cover crops also sequester carbon and produce crops that may be more nutritious.

“What you see in Five Points,” said Daphne Miller, a physician who studies the links between the health of the foods we eat and the soil in which they're grown, “is that the plots with the greatest diversity of cover crops had the most diverse microbiome in the soil.”

UCCE cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell is working on building soil in the San Joaquin Valley.
 
In a sister article in Bay Nature, Mitchell talked about a newly emerging term for conservation agriculture - "regenerative agriculture." The low- or no-till and cover crop system is thought to regenerate rather than deplete the soil. In addition to the other benefits, healthy soil will save water, since it reduces water evaporation levels by 4 to 5 inches annually, Mitchell said. If widely adopted, these practices could reduce water use throughout the valley by millions of acre-feet per year.

 
 
 
 
Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:32 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Environment

Agriculture will have to adapt to the changing climate

In the California agriculture industry, the climate change discussion is less about whether disruption is coming than it is about how farmers will adapt, reported John Cox in the Bakersfield Californian.

Cox spoke to a Delano farmer who doesn't like debating climate change, but he has thought a lot about how to deal with it.

"As a grower, you just take it as it comes," he said.

A honeybee approaches peach blossoms. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Farmers may not agree with new regulations intended to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions seen as accelerating climate change, but they share an interest in preparing for the changes ahead, the article said.

"Everybody I know in agriculture says, 'Yes, the climate's changing and adaptation to that climate change is crucial.' So that's not controversial," said Dan Sumner, director of the Agricultural Issues Center, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources statewide program. "At the same time, that doesn't mean they buy into every public policy proposal for mitigating the climate change."

Climate change is likely to prompt farmers to grow different varieties or different crops.

But even as California agriculture may struggle to adjust to climate change, so will its competitors overseas, Sumner said. The real question is whether the state's farming climate will remain superior in relation to that of other countries producing the same crops, he said.

In the Washington Post, Adrian Higgins reported on the impact of climate change to agriculture across the nation. From Appalachia to North Carolina to California, milder winters are inducing earlier flowering of temperate tree fruits, exposing the blooms to increasingly erratic frost, hail and other adverse weather.

Breeders are working to develop new varieties, said Katherine Jarvis-Shean, a UC Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor in Yolo County. But new trees typically take two decades of methodical breeding to create, exposing existing varieties to the vagaries of shifting winters and springs.

“The consumer will begin to know it's happening in the coming 10 to 20 years,” Jarvis-Shean said. 

 
Posted on Monday, April 1, 2019 at 10:35 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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