Posts Tagged: Wendy Powers
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources marked the opening of a new conference and laboratory building at its Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake July 26, bringing to the region a state-of-the-art facility for business meetings, job fairs, trainings, conferences and community events.
"The facility is the first in the Tulelake area to offer modern audio-visual infrastructure and high-speed internet connectivity capable of supporting remote presentations to stay in touch with groups from around the world," said Rob Wilson, IREC director. "We hope this facility will greatly increase the visibility and accessibility of local events and help draw more regional attention to the area."
UC ANR funded construction of the $2 million building. IREC is working with the community to complete the project with furnishings and equipment.
The conference room is named after John Staunton, a local farmer and supporter of IREC whose family donated $25,000 in his memory to the project. Another conference room bears the name of Winema Elevators/Western Milling for its gift of $15,000. Donations to the facility have also been made by Sensient Natural Ingredients, Macy's Flying Service and Basin Fertilizer
The conference building opening followed the 2018 IREC field day, an annual event that showcases the research underway at the 140-acre facility.
Research presentations included updates about work on biological control of cereal leaf beetle, influence of fall harvest management of irrigated grass hays, onion white rot, managing alfalfa weevil and clover root cucurlio, pulse crop options for the Klamath Basin, cover crops and amendments, cutting schedule effects on low lignin alfalfa and germplasm evaluation of alfalfa and tall fescue.
Left to right, UC ANR vice provost Mark Lagrimini, associate vice president Wendy Powers, and IREC director Rob Wilson took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new IREC Multi-purpose Conference and Laboratory Building.
The Staunton farming family attended the building opening, where a conference room has been named for family patriarch John Staunton.
Charlie Pickett, CDFA environmental scientist, is studying the biological control of cereal leaf beetle, a pest from Europe that arrived in the Tulelake area in 2013. The field insectary at IREC grows parsitic wasps that he has been sampling for five years. 'If we didn't have that parasitoid, I can guarantee you, everybody would be spraying pesticides,' he said.
UC Cooperative Extension advisor Dave Lile is conducting research to determine the end-of-season stubble height of three hay crops - timothy hay, tall fescue and orchard grass - for ideal growth the following season.
UCCE advisor Rachael Long demonstrates using a sweep net to monitor for alfalfa weevils. 'This weevil is a tough insect to control,' she said.
Pig weed grows though garbanzo bean plants in a weed control trial at IREC. There is increasing interest in garbanzo beans as a possible rotation crop in the region. The nutritious legume is used in making hummus, a healthful snack that is growing in popularity.
The wheat in the foreground - which followed a cover crop of woolypod vetch and then potatoes - is visibly more robust than wheat behind it that followed pelleted chicken manure and the potato crop. 'We were surprised by the memory we get from legume crops,' Wilson said.
UC alfalfa specialist Dan Putnam said selecting the best alfalfa variety can result in up to $700 per acre increase in profit over five years. 'That can be pretty important economically,' Putnam said.
UC Davis plant breeder Charlie Brummer is conducting pre-breeding experiments at IREC to tease out the plants most likely to parent high-yielding alfalfa.
IREC director and farm advisor Rob Wilson describes efforts being made to suppress the onion disease white root rot. 'White root rot is a soil-borne disease that is long-lived in the soil,' he said. 'This has limited onion acreage in the area.'
Stretching from the Death Valley to Calexico, California's vast dry desert is home to a unique and important agriculture industry.
It's a place where summertime temperatures often top the 115-degree mark. Where water supplies for irrigation depend on the Colorado River, but upriver states are claiming more of it. Where evapotrasporation – a reference rate of water use in unstressed turf grass – is 72 inches per year, but rainfall is rarely more than 4.
Still, stalwart farmers grow dates, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, kale and more, plus plants for landscaping everything from family homes to beautiful and luxurious resorts. The agriculture output of the state's three desert counties – Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial – exceeds $4 billion annually.
The California desert also impacts the quality of life across the nation. If Americans are enjoying a salad in the winter, the lettuce most likely was grown in the California desert. There are bountiful winter recreation opportunities available on the beautifully manicured golf courses, parks and landscapes.
A group of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) academics formed a desert workgroup to better serve the state's desert region. The group organized a symposium in February to bring together representatives from desert farm and natural resources communities, related industry and academics working in the desert.
“The close exchange of information among desert researchers, non-profit organizations, industry and clientele groups will facilitate collaboration among UC ANR, Arizona and Mexico and foster how our programs should be shaped on a regional level,” said Oli Bachie, the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Imperial County and the current workgroup chair.
With saline soil, scorching summer temperatures and limited water supplies, the desert could be considered a hotbed of the “wicked problem.” A wicked problem isn't evil, said UC Associate Vice President Wendy Powers, the symposium's plenary session keynote speaker.
“The term ‘wicked problem' was coined at UC Berkeley,” Powers said. “It's a problem with circumstances that resist resolution.”
She named climate change and the growth of the global population California must help feed as wicked problems faced by the state. Powers described UC ANR's statewide programs that are working to find solutions to formidable issues faced in California agriculture.
“We're on the verge of some serious breakthroughs as we look at solving wicked problems,” Powers said. “They are accelerated by conversations like those we're having today.”
UC Vice Provost Mark Bell said that the potential of UC ANR to reach every single Californian is what drew him to his position in 2017. Bell invoked Star Wars robot R2D2 for an acronym to reflect the characteristics that accurately define UC ANR.
“R2 stands for reach and relevance,” he said. “D2 is diverse and dispersed.”
UC Cooperative Extension offices serve 57 California counties and its nine research and extension centers are located in key agriculture ecosystems, including one in the low desert of the Imperial Valley.
The afternoon program of the symposium included breakout sessions to highlight programs and research efforts in three broad areas: irrigation and crop production, landscape management, and livestock and feed quality.
“This was the first attempt to organize such a regional desert-based symposium for the UCANR Desert Workgroup with the collaboration of desert-serving UCCE counties,” Bachie said. “I believe that we have registered a remarkable get-together.”
The symposium had speakers and participants from UC, USDA, California Department of Food and Agriculture, the desert agricultural industry, pest control advisors, non-profit institutions and organizations, agricultural commissioners, farm bureaus, Arizona and Mexico universities and the general public.
“I believe that the symposium is a stepping stone for future desert research and extension meetings, conferences and symposiums among people engaged or interested in desert agriculture and natural resources,” Bachie said.