REC AO Blog
Last Saturday an Oak Woodland Management "webinar class" culminated with a "hands-on" field tour at the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center. Participants included large-acreage landowners, representatives from several major land conservancies, a major forest products company representative, and several RPFs/CRMs who advise landowners.
Topics included Native-American historic cultural uses of oak woodlands, water quality assessment and related issues in oak woodlands (see photo), grazing and livestock management issues, riparian restoration, oak conservation strategies, wildlife-use of oak woodlands and habitat elements considerations, blue oak natural and artificial regeneration, road impacts and design in oak woodlands/rangeland, and fuel management alternatives in chaparral brush zones.
UC HREC plays a vital role in such extension-type outreach with topics almost unlimited as related to North Coast rangelands and natural resources.
Purple Needlegrass seeds were, historically, an important food source for many California Native Americans. This species (Nassella pulchra) of perennial bunchgrass was once the dominant grass of California prior to the invasion by European grasses. It is the "State Grass of California, and dense stands of this bunch grass can still be found at the
Subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum), the name often shortened to "sub-clover", is a species native to northwestern Europe. It is now widespread in many parts of the world, and is one of the most commonly grown forage crops in Australia. Sub-clover is extremely high in protein value, highly palatable to livestock, fixes nitrogen into the soil, and withstands heavy grazing (which actually promotes the sub-clover stand). The University of California and Australian researchers worked for decades together to find correct varietal types and rhizobium (soil bacteria capable of forming symbiotic nodules on the roots of legumes and then fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil) that is needed to fit the various micro-climates. Nowadays when one purchases sub-clover seed from the local farm supply store one actually gets a bag of pre-coated seed that has the rhizobium pel-coated onto the surface of each seed. Much of the mentioned field research was done at HREC by UC Davis agronomists.
Oh, the plant is given its name because it normally blooms close to the ground, and as the seed-burr forms the plant actually buries the seed into and sometimes below the surface of the soil, thus the name "subterranean".
Barn Owls (Tyto alba) have used oak woodlands and valley floors of California for thousands of years. These birds naturally rely on large cavities, either in trees, snags, or cliff faces for daytime roosts and nesting sites. As California became "civilized" many of these natural cavities disappeared (for example: the loss of many large California Valley Oaks due the clearing of land for agriculture and urban development) so many owls turn to old barns and silos for roost sites (thus their name). However, these usually have very limited nest site availability, so, the placement of artificial nest boxes provides nest cavities for many of these birds. HREC has several of such nest boxes placed in strategic locations, and here you see a barn owl who's mate is currently sitting on eggs or has young in a nest box inside one of HREC's old barns.
The audit, performed by the independent third party Primus, requires extensive documentation – including such details as inspection of field worker sanitation facilities and hygiene training, pre-harvest fruit sampling and laboratory testing for pesticide residues, records of worker safety training, employing expert pest control advisers using IPM practices performed by certified applicators, even the number of tractor hours involved in production, when the tractor oil was last changed and how the old oil was disposed. The report also documents details about crop inputs, such as pesticides used, the calibration of spray rigs, etc.
“This year because of a three-year history of more than 97 percent assurance in Global Food Safety requirements, we are not required to spend the many hours required in a full audit, submitting documentation and lengthy inspections to meet the standards,” said Alan Cary, the KARE safety coordinator.
Cary estimates this year’s exemption from documentation will save 40 hours of labor.
“I want to thank KARE’s farm operation staff for their support in continuously exceeding food safety requirements for products that are harvested and shipped from KARE to consumers around the globe,” Cary said.
The 3.61-acre blueberry plot at KARE is a research planting for UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Manuel Jimenez. The plot provides not only valuable science-based information for California’s blueberry farmers and industry, but also some crop income to help offset the research costs.