Daniel Putnam is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. He conducts research at Intermountain REC.
What led you to become an alfalfa and forage extension specialist?
I very much enjoy working with research and data, as well as working with farmers and people interested in agricultural sciences. In my case, I had worked with a wide variety of crops, including canola, soybean, corn, specialty crops such as dry beans and lupins, alternative crops like amaranth and camelina, as well as alfalfa. However, I especially enjoyed working on alfalfa. This is a nitrogen-fixing crop that contributes a lot to the environment, due to crop rotation and wildlife habit, not to mention supplying food for millions of people (yes, it is a food crop, but we consume it mostly in the form of ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and other animal products!!). Thus when this job came up, it looked quite attractive.
What brought your work to Intermountain REC?
Alfalfa is a big crop in the Intermountain region, and there has been a long and storied history of work on alfalfa at the Intermountain REC. The field station staff is excellent to work with. The unique soil type at Intermountain is an important attraction. The issues of alfalfa variety disease and insect resistance and yield potential are very important to test at multiple locations. Having great collaborators like the late Steve Orloff, Rob Wilson, Giuliano Galdi, and Tom Getts is a very important attraction to work a the Intermountain station.
What do you hope to learn from your research at Intermountain REC?
We have tested a wide range of ideas and alfalfa varieties at Intermountain REC. Issues such as deficit irrigation of grasses and alfalfa are critical due to the pressures on water use in the intermountain area and the Klamath Basin. The variety testing results are posted on my website ‘httms://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu” There is an average of about 15% yield differences over time at Intermountain – the knowledge of choosing the right variety is worth millions of dollars to the intermountain regions.
What is your favorite part about conducting your research at Intermountain REC?
The field days are a lot of fun. The staff is just simply great to work with – very knowledgeable, competent, and they get stuff done!