1997-1998 SAREP Funds New Projects

by Lyra Halprin, SAREP

Research & Education Grants

Continuing Projects


Twenty-nine research and education projects have been granted a total of $170,866 by UC SAREP in the 1997-98 funding cycle. New projects were chosen in four areas: production, community development and public policy, educational events, and graduate student awards. Additionally 13 continuing projects received $166,847, bringing SAREP’s total grant funding for 1997-98 to $337,713. Brief descriptions of the new projects, principal investigators, contact information and amounts awarded for the first year follow.
Continuing projects are listed at the end.

Production Projects

(6 projects; $88,490)

Michael Costello, Fresno County Viticulture Farm Advisor, "Native Grass Species for Use as Perennial Cover Crops in Central Valley Vineyards": $15,000. Results from this study will add information to the cover cropping database for California grape vineyards. Native grasses are being promoted to grape growers, but their suitability has not been subjected to scientific scrutiny. This study will help determine which native grasses can be practically established in the Central Valley, and the benefits and drawbacks of maintaining a permanent native grass stand on the vineyard floor. The impacts of the study will provide a basis for further study in the coastal, foothill and desert winegrape growing regions. Native grasses as cover crops can improve soil structure and water infiltration in vineyards, allowing equipment to be used in wet conditions and cutting down on the sunburn effect of reflected light. Dust reduction and improved water infiltration can lead to lowered pressure from pests such as spider mites. Because their growing cycles are opposite grape vines, native grasses provide the advantage of a perennial cover without the disadvantage of excessive competition. This project will conduct a study at an UC experiment station and two commercial vineyards to determine which native grass species are best suited related to establishment, water/nitrogen use, and ability to compete with weeds. Four native grass treatments will be tested under drip and furrow irrigation, and will be compared to clean cultivation and another cover crop at the experiment station. Evaluation of weed control will be made at the Fresno County commercial table grape site, while evaluation of spider mite control will take place at the commercial raisin site. Estimations will be made of percent vegetative cover, biomass, soil moisture and vine leaf water potential, cover crop flowering period, seed formation, and green growing period. Vine canopy temperature during the frost period will be recorded. (209) 456-7567; mjcostello@ucdavis.edu

Thomas Harter, Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist for Groundwater Hydrology, UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier, "Impact of Dairy Waste and Crop Nutrient Management on Shallow Groundwater Quality": $14,500. This project is related to the Mathews project above. It will provide an improved understanding of the underground nitrate pathways from various locations in dairy operations (corrals, ponds, spills, manure application to fields) and how these contribute to the degradation of groundwater quality. This will be achieved by using and expanding an existing groundwater monitoring network on five dairies in Stainslaus and Merced counties. The project will also provide baseline data on groundwater quality that can be used to determine future improvements in groundwater quality due to improved nutrient management and dairy operations practices on selected dairies, and will demonstrate and evaluate changes in groundwater quality at shallow depths due to improved nutrient management within the dairy operation. It will also educate dairy personnel and communities in Stainslaus and Merced counties and regulatory and water management agencies about the impact of nutrient management alternatives on groundwater quality, and cooperatively develop sustainable solutions to protect groundwater under dairies from excessive salt and nutrient load. (209) 646-6569; thharter@ucdkac.edu

William Horwath, Assistant Professor, Soil Biogeochemistry, UC Davis, "Defining Changes in Soil Organic Matter Quality During the Transition from Conventional to Low Input Organic Systems to Identify Sustainable Farming Practices": Two-year project; first year funding: $23,337. The importance of soil organic matter (SOM) in cropping system sustainability is in its ability to store nutrients and improve soil structure. It has been difficult to assess soil fertility based on gross measures of soil organic matters, such as total soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). For example, N budgets in the Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems (SAFS) project at UC Davis have shown that the organic treatment (manure and cover crop) has accumulated the most soil N compared to other treatments, yet crops grown in that treatment appear to be nitrogen-deficient. The low input treatment (cover crop and fertilizer) has accumulated less N, but crops grown in that treatment have consistently out-produced both the organic and conventional treatments. The results indicate that it is not the quantity of SOM, but rather the quality that may control soil fertility. This project will examine soils in the Biologically Integrated Farming Systems (BIFS) project near the Kearney Agricultural Center and the Davis SAFS project, and will compare soils that have been managed in fundamentally different ways for more than eight years. SOM quality will be analyzed by examining its structure and chemical makeup. Soil fertility and water availability will also be analyzed and relationships between these two sets of variables will be analyzed. Increased understanding of SOM maintenance will lead to improved soil health, and is critical to long-term food production. The results will be presented to advisors and growers so that they can assess the utility of alternative agronomic treatments on long-term fertility. (530) 754-6029; wrhorwath@ucdavis.edu

Chuck Ingels, Sacramento County Viticulture/Pomology Farm Advisor, "Effects of Cover Crops on a Vineyard Ecosystem in the Northern San Joaquin Valley": $6, 212. Cover crops are currently very popular in vineyards. Although used for years, new species and management systems have been developed recently for cover crops. Several growers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley now prefer, for example, to sow California native perennial grasses because they provide excellent wheel traction and go dormant in the summer. These grasses are also used to remove excess water in the spring to provide moderate moisture stress in early spring, thus possibly improving wine quality. These species, however, have not been formally tested in vineyards, nor have the most commonly used mixes been compared in their effects on vines and production. In this trial, four sown cover crop mixes and resident vegetation will be compared in a young Sacramento County Merlot winegrape vineyard to determine the effects on production and fruit quality, vine moisture stress and nutrient status, weeds, and the economics of cover cropping. The project includes grower meetings, a journal article and the use of the site as a tour stop for the UC Cover Crops Workgroup meeting in 1999. (916) 875-6913; caingels@ucdavis.edu

Marsha Campbell Mathews, Stanislaus County Field Crops Farm Advisor, "Use of Dairy Lagoon Water in Production of Forage Crops." $15,500. California is the largest dairy production state in the U.S. Environmentally sustainable management of these dairies is critical to the economic health of California’s agricultural community. Data recently collected on dairies in the San Joaquin Valley near fields where lagoon water is applied show elevated levels of nitrates even on well-managed operations. Local dairy operators do not have information available about how much nitrogen they are applying in the form of pond water because the design of the dairies and irrigation systems makes measurement of applied nutrients very difficult. Sandy soils and border check irrigation make applied nutrients especially susceptible to leaching. This project will show how the effective use of dairy wastewater and manure for the production of forge crops associated with dairies in Stanislaus and Merced counties can reduce groundwater contamination by nitrates in this area. New production practices to be developed and demonstrated include an in-field quick test for ammonia, practical lagoon water flow estimation, and use of manure nutrients in growing corn and winter forage without loss of yield. A demonstration area large enough to show improvements in groundwater quality as a result of using these sustainable practices will also be managed. Improvements in groundwater quality will be monitored in the joint project "Impact of Dairy Waste and Crop Nutrient Management on Shallow Groundwater Quality" (project follows). (209) 525-6654; mcmathews@ucdavis.edu

Sean Swezey, Extension Specialist, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, "A Grower-Managed Biorational Management Program for Artichokes on the Northern Central California Coast": Three-year project; first year funding: $13,941. Nearly all commercially produced artichokes in the U.S. are grown in coastal California, a crop which was valued at $45 million in 1996. Castroville area artichoke growers harvested more than 70 percent of the statewide production ($35 million). This same area spent approximately $3.5 million ($370/acre) on synthetic insecticide-based pest control of the crop’s major pest, artichoke plume moth (APM). A number of owner-operator resident growers in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties produce 10 to 20 percent of the statewide harvest on family-owned farms. They face increasing pressure to intensify conventional practices in the face of rising land values, increased transportation costs, and marketplace competition. Artichoke production for them will only remain profitable if input costs are kept low relative to the crop sale price (possibly value-added). These growers showed a willingness to form a cost-sharing management team to implement and evaluate biorational (derived from biotic interactions or non-synthetic sources) pest management practices in on-farm demonstrations, in order to evaluate alternatives to the technical and market pressures facing them. The project will support the organization and activities of this new management team. The grower-directed research and demonstration program will monitor weather and arthropods, pheromone application, locally reared natural enemy release, and cultural controls of APM will be implemented and evaluated on grower-managed fields. An unique management team of growers, University of California and artichoke industry researchers, and local agricultural professionals will share in-season results of this program through weekly updates and biennial field meetings. Improvements in key pest damage levels and fresh market crop yields, reduction of pest management costs associated with the applications of synthetic organic insecticides, and overall economic performance (including possible value-added certified organic sales) will be documented in program fields compared with matched conventionally managed fields. (408) 459-4367; sarep@ucdavis.edu

Community Development and Public Policy Projects

(5 projects; $54,552)

Lorrie Morrison Bundy, Project Coordinator, Siskiyou Resource Conservation District, "Scott River Basin Water Balance": $14,850. Farming and ranching provide the economic base for the Scott Valley. In April 1997 the coho salmon was listed by the federal government as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in a region which includes the Scott River Basin. This listing caused great concern in the local agricultural community. Additionally, the Scott River was identified as an ‘impaired’ stream by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Most irrigation water is surface diversion. Low stream flow is identified as the main cause of high temperature and sedimentation in the Scott River. The local community recognizes the need to improve stream flow in order to ensure sustainable agriculture and improve conditions for salmon spawning. The Scott River Watershed Coordinated Resource Management Council (CRMP), a local volunteer effort which includes a cross-section of the community, has made a water balance plan a high priority. A ‘water balance,’ similar to a checking account balance, will identify and quantify the inputs and outputs of water in the Scott River basin. This project will develop a holistic, watershed-wide tool for making management decisions. Cost-effective projects will be identified to improve stream flow, including a series of education forums to share information with the local community. Participants in this study include local agricultural producers, Siskiyou Resource Conservation District, Scott Valley Coordinated Resource Management Planning Council, UC Cooperative Extension, Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, California Department of Fish and Game, and the U.S. Forest Service. (530) 467-5216; lmm2@axe.humboldt.edu

Yolanda Huang, Coordinator, Willard Greening Project, "Collaboration Between Willard Greening Project and BOSS": $19,482. This project builds on the Willard Greening Project in the Berkeley Unified School District, which previously joined forces with the Urban Gardening Institute of the Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) program. That collaboration, partially funded by SAREP, expanded inner city agriculture by using vacant and public lands to make fresh, organic food available to low-income urban people. Homeless people with a prior drug abuse issue continue to be trained in intensive food production and cut-flower horticulture and are working at Willard Middle School in all aspects of the garden. The 200 Willard sixth-grade students are working with one of the principal investigators in a weekly environmental education class, in which 90 percent of the work is in the school garden. A goal of this phase of the project is to develop Willard as a model program so that all of Berkeley Unified School District’s school lunch programs serve fresh vegetables and fruit purchased from locally grown gardens and farms. One of the goals is to maintain the current level of vegetable production at Willard and expand the fruit production. Another goal of the project is to make the issue of homelessness more public through discussion, workshops and working together in the garden. (510) 549-9121 (Huang); (510) 644-6330 (Willard Middle School).

Sibella Kraus, The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, "Market Cooking for Kids: Facilitating Field Trips to Sustainable Agriculture Farms": $5,520. This project builds on a successful hands-on cooking and science program partially funded by SAREP, "Market Cooking for Kids," developed for children in Oakland and San Francisco elementary schools. Presented in schools, farmers’ markets and after-school programs, "Market Cooking for Kids" combines hands-on education about the biology and ecology of locally produced, sustainably grown seasonal foods with basic instruction about how to prepare these foods. School field trips to local farms have been an integral element for the classes. This project will expand the opportunities for elementary school children to experience educational school field trips to farms practicing sustainable agriculture and to encourage farmers to host school farm field trips. The goals are to foster children’s emotional, intellectual and spiritual ties to their regional farmers and farmland, and to help farmers understand the importance of educating children both about their own farms and about regional, sustainable agriculture in general. To realize these goals, the project will develop and widely disseminate a Farmers’ Guide to Hosting School Farm Field Trips during the course of 20 farm trips, and a complimentary Teachers’ Resource Guide to Visiting Farms. (510) 526-2788; sfpmc@igc.apc.org

Jeff Kositsky, Community Services Coordinator, Rural California Housing Corp., Sacramento, "Park Village Community Supported Agriculture Research Project": $10,000. Park Village is an affordable housing complex in Stockton, Calif. populated by low-income refugees from Cambodia. The Park Village Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project is designed to provide affordable, organic and culturally appropriate produce to the entire Southeast Asian community of the area. The project will also create economic opportunities for residents of Park Village Apartments. Through the project, apartment residents will organize and operate a farm cooperative on land donated by the Northern California Land Trust. They will grow produce for the Southeast Asian community of the area and develop a CSA, or subscription farming system, that links the producers directly with consumers. The Rural California Housing Corporation, a nonprofit community development organization, co-owns Park Village with the residents. The housing corporation also works with residents to help their families achieve self-sufficiency. This phase of the project will be used to evaluate the feasibility of the Park Village CSA project, educate program participants, develop a project design, and raise needed funds. A written report about the study findings will be published and distributed to organizations interested in similar projects. (916) 442-4731 ext. 3320; HN0415@handsnet.org

José Montenegro, Director, Rural Development Center, Salinas, "Design Plan and Monitoring Program Development for a Straw Bale Produce Cooler Demonstration Unit at the Rural Development Center (RDC) in Salinas Valley, Calif.": $4,700. In 1995 the California State Legislature identified an urgent need for low-cost, energy-efficient housing in the state due to a shortage of construction-grade lumber. This shortage could open up an economically viable market for the use of straw bales in construction. To facilitate that market, the Legislature approved a statutory design code for the use of straw bale housing, which would significantly benefit low-cost housing, agriculture, and fisheries in California. Minimum standards of safety were established for the construction of structures that use baled straw as a structural or nonstructural material. In early 1997 the Central Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Rural Development Center (RDC) sponsored a straw bale construction workshop at the RDC to teach farm families how to apply this technology in home and agricultural building construction. This project will solicit funds to develop plans and an accompanying monitoring program for a demonstration straw bale produce cooler at the RDC. Farm families enrolled in the RDC program will continue to participate in the planning and construction phases of the project. (408) 758-1469.

Graduate Student Awards

(4 projects; $8,000)

Valerie Eviner, "Understanding the Influence of Plant Species on Soil Nutrient Dynamics and Soil Properties in California Annual Grasslands," $2,000. Department of Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley. (510) 642-1054 ; eviner@socrates.berkeley.edu

Cecilia Jones, "Effect of Decomposition of Organic Amendments on the Rhizosphere Bacterial Communities and Suppression of Root Pathogens on Cotton," $2,000. Department of Plant Pathology, UC Davis. (530) 752-7795 ; cejones@ucdavis.edu

Andreas Westphal, "Field Survey for Suppressiveness Against Heterodera schachtii," $2,000. Department of Nematology, UC Riverside. (909) 787-5328 ; andreasw@ucrac1.ucr.edu

Annette Wszelaki, "Heat Treatments, Biological Controls and Controlled Atmospheres as Alternatives to Pesticides in Control of Botrytis cinerea in Postharvest Handling of Strawberries and Apples," $2,000. Department of Pomology, UC Davis. (530) 752-0908; alwszelaki@ucdavis.edu

Grants for Educational Events

[14 grants (29 events); $19, 824]

Educational grants are awarded to individuals and organizations to conduct workshops, field days, and other educational events related to sustainable agriculture. Fourteen grants were awarded to support 29 different events or programs around the state. For more information about a particular event, call the telephone number listed. To learn more about SAREP’s educational grants program, call David Chaney at (530) 754-8551; dechaney@ucdavis.edu

Dave Daley, Glenn Nader, Larry Forero. California State University, Chico and UC Cooperative Extension. $1,000. "Beef Day." Date: February 21, 1998. Location: CSU Chico Farm.(530) 898-4539; ddaley@facultypo.csuchico.edu; ganader@ucdavis.edu; lcforero@ucdavis.edu

Patricia Delwiche. California State University, Chico, with California Department of Pesticide Regulation, UC Cooperative Extension, Lundberg Family Farms, Hedgerow Farms. $960. "Integrating Agriculture with Wildlife Conservation." Approximate Date: March 16, 1998. Location: Chico City Council Chambers. (530) 898-5844; pdelwiche@oavax.csuchico.edu

Melvin George and Craig Thomsen, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Department of Agronomy and Range Science. $1,000. "California Annual Grassland Ecosystem Short Course: Ecology, Management, and Restoration." Date: March 31- April 2, 1998. Location: UC Davis Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center. (530) 752-1720; mrgeorge@ucdavis.edu; cdthomsen@ucdavis.edu

Chuck Ingels, Benny Fouche, and Maxwell Norton. UC Cooperative Extension, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Merced counties. $2,000 (3 meetings). "Promoting the Adoption of Integrated Pest Management Practices to Southeast Asian Strawberry Growers." Date: February 1998 TBA. Locations: Sacramento, Stockton, Merced. (916) 875-6913 (Ingels), caingels@ucdavis.edu; (209) 468-2085 (Fouche), bfouche@ucdavis.edu; (209) 385-7403 (Norton), mnorton@ucdavis.edu

Chuck Ingels. UC Cooperative Extension, Sacramento County. $1,000. "Codling Moth Biology and Ecological Control Methods for Pear, Apple, and Walnut Orchards." Date: TBA February or March 1998. Location: Sacramento. (916) 875-6913, caingels@ucdavis.edu

Roger Ingram and David Pratt. UC Cooperative Extension. $1,000. "The California Grazing Academy." Date: TBA late April 1998. Location: UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center. (916) 889-7386 (Ingram), rsingram@ucdavis.edu; (707) 421-6791 7# (Pratt), dwpratt@ucdavis.edu

Desmond Jolly and George Van Den Abbeele. UC Small Farm Center, Davis. $1,000. "Agriculture and Ethics Symposium." Date: TBA February or March 1998. Location: Sacramento or Davis. (530) 752-7774 (Jolly), dajolly@ucdavis.edu; (530) 752-2295 (Van Den Abbeele), givandenabbeele@ucdavis.edu

William Oswald and F. Bailey Green. UC Berkeley Environmental Engineering and Health Sciences Laboratory. $2,000. "Design and Operation of the Kehoe Dairy AIWPS Facility for Treatment and Reclamation of Dairy Wastes (Kehoe Dairy, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County)." Date: TBA April and June 1998. Location: Point Reyes National Seashore headquarters at Bear Valley and Kehoe Dairy, Inverness. (510) 231-9438 (Oswald), (510) 231-5682 (Green), fbgreen@socrates.berkeley.edu

Bob Roan. UC Cooperative Extension, Placer County. $1,000. "PlacerGROWN Farm Conference." Date: January 31, 1998. Location: Lincoln High School, Lincoln. (916) 823-2431.

Jean Saffell. California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, Sierra Resource Conservation District, Westside Conservation District, UC Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service. "Fresno County Resource Conservation District Day." $1,000. Date: February 11, 1998. Location: Clovis Memorial Building, Clovis. (209) 855-5312, mtplanr@psnw.com

Andrea Sexton and Wendell Gilgert. Glenn County Resource Conservation District. $4,000 (8 workshops). "Improving Water Quality through Sustainable Agricultural Practices—A Workshop Series for Dairy Producers, Orchardists and Rowcrop Farmers." Dates: December 2, 1997; January 14, 1998; February 3, 1998; March 18, 1998; May 13, 1998; July 15, 1998; September 16, 1998; October 14, 1998. Locations: TBA. (530) 934-5713 (Sexton), svbserv@aol.com; (530) 934-4601 (Gilgert).

Ernest White and Laurie Aumack. Tehama County Resource Conservation District and the Reeds Creek/Red Bank Watershed Project. $914. "Introduction to Watershed Functions: Spring and Fall in Reeds Creek and Red Bank Creek Watersheds (An introduction to west side watersheds in Tehama County)." Dates: Spring field tour TBA between April 15-May 15, 1998; Fall field tour TBA between October 1-31, 1998. Locations: Red Bluff to Reeds Creek and Red Bank Creek. (530) 527-4231 (White, Aumack), laumack@ca.nrcs.usda.gov

Paul Wills and Sue Ellen Holmstrand. Hyampom Valley Growers Association. $950. "Turning Dirt into Soil: What to Look for and How to Test." Dates: 2-day event TBA late January 1998. Location: Hyampom Community Center, Hyampom. (530) 758-3870 (Wills), (530) 628-4621 (Holmstrand).

Lynn Young. Committee for Sustainable Agriculture, with US-EPA, UC SAREP, UC Cooperative Extension, Modesto Junior College. $3,000 (6 meetings). "Soil Fertility Conferences and Field Days: Habitat Enhancement for Biological Pest Control (2 meetings), Nutrient and Waste Management for Livestock and Dairy, Soil Fertility and Integrated Pest Management for Strawberries, Soil Fertility and Integrated Pest Management for Row Crops, and Soil Fertility and Integrated Pest Management for Stone Fruit." Dates: Modesto, end of February 1998; Salinas, beginning of March 1998. Locations: Modesto and Salinas. (408) 763-2111, csaefc@scruznet.com

Continuing Grants

Community Development and Public Policy

Joyce Ewen, "PIVCC's Food Security Project";
Laura Lawson, "Rethinking Direct Marketing Approaches Appropriate to Low Income Communities and Urban Market Gardens";
Adina Merenlender, "A Spacially Explicit Vineyard Model: Addressing Crop Production, Public Policy, and Environmental Concerns;

For descriptions of these continuing projects, see the Biennial Report 1995-1997.

Crop and Livestock Production

Roger Ingram, "Controlled Grazing on Foothill Rangelands";
Jay Rosenheim, "Ecology of a Group of Generalist Predators, the Green Lacewings, and Their Contribution to Biological Control in Almonds and Walnuts";
Marita Cantwell, "Alternative Postharvest Treatments for Decay and Insect Control";
Patrick Brown, "Development of a N-Fertilizer Recommendation Model to Improve N-Use Efficiency and to Alleviate Nitrate Pollution to Ground Water from Almond Orchards";
Melvin George, "The Contribution of Ranch Roads, Cattle Trails and Bed Load to the Sediment Budget for a Grazed Watershed in the Central Sierra Foothills";
Joseph Hancock,"Role of the Soil Microbial Community in Suppression of Rhizoctonia Stem Rot Disease of Cauliflower"; John Maas, "Environmental Fate and Characterization of Selenium Supplemented to Intensively Grazed Beef Cattle";
Jeff Mitchell, "Use of Cover Crop Mulches in Processing Tomato Production Systems";
Steven Temple, "The Transition from Conventional to Low-Input or Organic Farming Systems: Soil Biology, Soil Chemistry, Soil Physics, Energy Utilization, Economics and Risk."

For descriptions of these continuing projects, see the Biennial Report 1995-1997.