Research and Extension Center System
University of California
Research and Extension Center System

Posts Tagged: Pest Management/Diseases

Living with Wildlife – Outcomes and actions following the recent workshop at UC ANR Hopland REC

submitted by Hopland REC Director, Dr. Kim Rodrigues

Since arriving as the Director for HREC in 2013-2014, I have been committed to protecting all of the amazing resources here at the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC,) with a dedicated effort to saving wildlife and reducing losses of sheep.  As one of the last remaining sheep research facilities and one of the largest flocks in our immediate area, the sheep are prey to coyotes and other potential predators on the landscape. 

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With increasing numbers of wildlife across the region, state and nation, conflicts between humans and wildlife are increasing.  Our workshop at HREC on August 31, 2017 focused on living with wildlife while managing livestock, with an overarching goal to seek a shared understanding of non-lethal tools through research, implementation and education.

Over 80 participants from a diversity of backgrounds including researchers, ranchers, community members and non-profits attended. All participants experienced demonstrations of several non-lethal tools, including some exciting applications of scary devices, such as Halloween decorations, collars to protect sheep with strobe lights and canine avoidance noises built into them, fencing with an electric charge, lion proof pens and flagging attached to deter movement across the fencing and more.  Many participants wanted more hands-on field time with the ranchers using these tools and HREC is working to develop this for late spring/early summer of 2018.

We explored new and emerging research with Dr. Brashares and his team only to learn that it “depends.”  Everything is situational and place-based and this is a key lesson or outcome from the meeting.  The situational questions asked of each rancher on the panel may help inform the choice of tools and the mix of tools to reduce losses.

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We learned that there are practical barriers – such as time, money and labor, as well as scientific barriers to fully implementing non-lethal tools.  Yet, one common message was to mix and match tools and vary them frequently.  “Match” the tools to your specific situation(s) and mix them up over time and space frequently.   Many creative ideas came up to help share tools and other resources and the concept of a lending library with non-lethal tools available to ranchers emerged as a local action HREC will explore further with our community partners.

We understand the importance of strong working relationships and diverse partnerships and we will work with the participants who were able to attend and outreach to partners, such as local agricultural commissioner and staff, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Wildlife Services to ensure we are all working together. 

We learned from and valued the diverse perspectives and there was a tremendous sense of respect for all people present that allowed a dynamic and safe learning environment.

Already, HREC is moving forward with new research to better track and document the work of our large guard dogs (LGDs) as a tool to prevent losses of livestock. The concept of putting GPS collars on our dogs and tracking their movements over a variety of pasture types and sizes and landscapes is already being discussed and outlined by HREC staff and research colleagues. It is recognized that LGDs can and do kill wildlife, so they are not truly a “non-lethal” tool yet they remain one of the most important tools livestock managers rely on to protect their animals.  Lethal controls are still used in combination with non-lethal tools – snares, calling, shooting – in most ranching situations but not all.  Yet all ranchers shared their goals to reduce losses of both livestock and wildlife and agreed that preventing losses is the best approach in all cases.

I welcome you to visit our HREC site and you can review the amazing graphic art that captured the essence of the workshop, as well as the rancher panel interviews, the presentations and more online.  Please join us for future events.

Together, we may find innovative tools and solutions and keep ranching viable in our communities to prevent further fragmentation and conversion to other uses, saving both livestock and wildlife.

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 11:09 AM

Kearney’s 2013 alfalfa and forage meeting provides diverse tools to the agriculture community.

The recent alfalfa and forage meeting at Kearney attracted about 100 growers and pest control advisors.

Shannon Mueller, UC Cooperative Extension advisor and director in Fresno County, agronomy, alfalfa, hay, forage crops, honeybees, seed oil crops, and dry beans, indicated that grower knowledge of the local pest and disease pressure and selection of an alfalfa variety with desired resistance qualities is an effective IPM tool for managing pests and disease in alfalfa crops.

Dan Putnam, extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, agronomy, alfalfa and forage crops, alternative field crops, cellulosic energy crops, crop ecology, shared that some of the nitrogen produced by alfalfa (a legume) remains and is available for subsequent crops. Current research has a goal of developing alfalfa’s nitrogen credit to help manage nitrogen fertilizer supplementation for non-legume rotational crops (like wheat). Putnam also shared the potential value of sorghum as a summer irrigated forage crop for dairy and livestock production that requires less water and nitrogen as compared to corn (California’s main forage crop). Research on the sorghum is ongoing, with benefits and limitations being identified.

Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties, crop production, soil and water quality, the Delta, discussed concerns and management strategies related to the co-existence of Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa and conventional alfalfa. Gene flow between seed producing alfalfa fields has been observed. Gene flow between hay producing alfalfa fields is mainly prevented by management barriers, particularly the cutting of hay at a stage that minimizes any seed development.  Best practices to allow growing and separating both RR and conventional alfalfa were discussed.  Additionally, growers can use test strips that allow easy and quick detection al RR alfalfa if customers do not want any RR alfalfa.

Jeffery Dahlberg, director at Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center, plant breeding, agronomy, field crops, sorghum, plant production, plant genetics, discussed sorghum variety trials designed to assess many characteristics, including water use, fertility, forage quality and yield.  Dahlberg indicated that sorghum serves as a grain and forage crop for livestock, and biofuel crop.

Robert Hutmacher, cooperative extension specialist and director at West Side Research & Extension Center, cotton production issues, water stress, nutrient management, indicated that water conservation is a high priority. Hutmacher highlighted water timing and reduction research that indicated that although yields are lowered with less water, acceptable sorghum crop yields can still be obtained. Yields of grain sorghum were impacted less than yields of forage sorghum with reduced water use.

Steven Wright, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Tulare and Kings counties, cotton, small grains, weed control, discussed how nitrogen/wheat variety management strategies help maximize both yield and protein levels while minimizing ground water contamination in growing areas.

Larry Godfrey, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Entomology, UC Davis, entomology, discussed the Blue Alfalfa Aphid, which caused extensive economic damage throughout California last year. The Blue Alfalfa Aphid was a major problem in the 1970s, and a minor problem in the interim. The pest management materials that were effective historically were not effective last year. New pest management strategies have been developed and a new use registration and/or section 18 use permit are pending, hopefully in time for the 2014 alfalfa growing season.

Kurt Hembree, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist in Fresno County, weed management strategies in crop and non-crop settings, discussed weed management strategies for RR and conventional alfalfa stands. Hembree indicated that best practices are to design weed management strategies according to existing and anticipated weeds with extra weed control effort during early stand development. Hembree stressed that if growers want to preserve the benefits created by RR alfalfa, they need to reduce the chances of weed resistance to glyphosate with escapes control, mode of action rotation, and/or tank-mixing with other herbicides.

For more information, please look at the California Ag Today blog.

Posted on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 9:10 AM

KARE scientist visits Australia to share insights into disease control and food safety strategies for tree nut crops.

Themis Michailides, plant pathologist and lecturer in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, and Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, recently visited Australia, primarily to visit pistachio and almond orchards and discuss disease control and food safety strategies for these crops.

In 2011, Australia had excessive rains at harvest time, which resulted in pistachio crop losses of 40 to 50 percent due to anthracnose fungi. The lost crop was worth about $15 million. To help prevent the problem in the future, the growers went to California to get input on current disease management strategies. Themis Michailides’ research and extension program was very helpful. As a result, the pistachio and almond crop growers of Australia created protocols to prevent and control the disease. The Australian Pistachio Industry invited Dr. Michailides to tour the Riverland and Sunraysia regions this year to inspect orchards that were previously affected by the anthracnose as well as meet with Australian researchers.

Dr. Michailides was surprised to find lower limb dieback in Australia.  This is a problem that his program studied in California for many years with funds from the Californian Almond Board.

The trip was mutually beneficial. The Australian industry and researchers received expert advice and Dr. Michailides learned about practices in Australia that can benefit his research and extension program in California.

Highlights of the trip are summarized below.

  • Brisbane: met with Australian plant pathologists from the local area and discussed many plant diseases of interest to the local region.
  • Adelaide: stayed and enjoyed visiting with his UC Davis classmate Prue McMichael’s family; visited local laboratories and research organizations to discuss pistachio, pomegranate and almond disease control and food safety strategies.
  • Mallee and Riverland regions: met with growers and researchers to discuss disease control and food safety strategies for pistachios and almonds. Displayed samples of Anthracnose and Botryosphaeria infected nuts and leaves that were collected during Dr. Michailides’ Australian orchard visits.
  • Mildura: met with the Australian Pistachio Research and Development Committee and discussed some of the pistachio disease control efficacy research being done in Australia. Recommended that the committee access “Fungicides, Bactericides, and Biologicals for deciduous Tree Fruit, Nut, Strawberry, and Vine Corps 2012” to review current pest management strategies for tree fruit, tree nut, strawberry and vine crops. Shared how to closely inspect trees, bark, wood, leaves and nuts to identify and diagnose symptoms of various diseases, as well as predict disease risks based on inoculum levels and weather conditions.
Posted on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 8:57 AM
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