Latest Event Updates

Preparing Trees For Winter

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With no way to know how long the current drought will continue, knowing when and where to water a tree can be the difference between its life and death. (Chris J. Nicolini | UC Davis)
With no way to know how long the current drought will continue, knowing when and where to water a tree can be the difference between its life and death. (Chris J. Nicolini | UC Davis)

Tips to prepare your trees for winter, wet or dry.

Oct. 27, 2014
By Dave Fujino
California Center for Urban Horticulture

California’s drought is having a visible impact on lawns throughout the state as homeowners reduce their outdoor watering. Lawns can be brought back to life relatively quickly, but once a tree dies, its loss is irreversible.

As the amount of sunlight falling on trees is reduced with the change in the seasons, trees go into dormancy and require less water than during the hot summer months. But in exceptionally dry conditions, a tree may not have enough stored moisture to survive until drought conditions improve. Tree advocates and water officials today urged homeowners to educate themselves on effective tree care to ensure their trees’ survival in the months ahead – especially if California’s extended dry period continues this winter.

Representatives of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) told the media a return of normal rainfall this winter might be enough to sustain trees without special care and watering. However, with no way to know how long the current drought will continue, the advocates said knowing when and where to water a tree can be the difference between its life and death. Read the rest of this entry »

No-Till Ag May Not Boost Global Crop Yield

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No-till farming, such as used in this Illinois soybean field, shows promise in dry regions but causes lower yields in cold, moist areas like Northern Europe, a new study finds. (Photo: Paige Buck |USDA NRCS Illinois)
No-till farming, such as used in this Illinois soybean field, shows promise in dry regions but causes lower yields in cold, moist areas like Northern Europe, a new study finds. (Photo: Paige Buck |USDA NRCS Illinois)

No-till farming, a conservation agriculture strategy that avoids conventional plowing, may not boost crop yields according to an extensive new meta-analysis by a team led by UC Davis.

Oct. 22, 3014
By Pat Bailey
University of California, Davis

No-till farming, a key conservation agriculture strategy that avoids conventional plowing and otherwise disturbing the soil, may not bring a hoped-for boost in crop yields in much of the world, according to an extensive new meta-analysis by an international team led by the University of California, Davis.

As the core principle of conservation agriculture, no-till has been promoted worldwide in an effort to sustainably meet global food demand. But after examining results from 610 peer-reviewed studies, the researchers found that no-till often leads to yield declines compared to conventional tillage systems. It still shows promise for yield gains in dryland areas, however.

The landmark findings from their review are published online Oct. 22 in the journal Nature.

“The big challenge for agriculture is that we need to further increase yields but greatly reduce our environmental impacts,” said Cameron Pittelkow, who co-authored the study as a postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis and is now on the faculty of the University of Illinois. “The common assumption that no-till is going to play a large role in the sustainable intensification of agriculture doesn’t necessarily hold true, according to our research findings.” Read the rest of this entry »

International Agricultural Development

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Students and affiliates of the International Agricultural Development program at UC Davis, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the program. (Photo: Brad Hooker | UC Davis)
Students and affiliates of the International Agricultural Development program at UC Davis, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the program. (Photo: Brad Hooker | UC Davis)

Celebrating 50 years of global success at UC Davis.

Oct. 23, 2014
By Ann Filmer
University of California, Davis

The International Agricultural Development (IAD) program at UC Davis celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, with the announcement of a new fellowship program for graduate students. In a forum on October 10 at UC Davis, IAD students, faculty, staff, alumni from near and far, and distinguished guests, including Congressman John Garamendi, addressed the successes and promising future of the International Agricultural Development program.

During the 1960s’ era of agricultural enlightenment, UC Davis pulled together the groups — primarily in agricultural, social, and environmental science disciplines — that were necessary to meet students’ growing interest in international agricultural work. An undergraduate and a master’s degree program in IAD were established. Today, the programs are still of great interest to students, and there are more than 800 IAD alumni working in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Helene Dillard, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, welcomed the group and noted that international agricultural work is very rewarding and is one of the areas for which UC Davis is recognized globally.

A quick survey of IAD students in the audience showed a broad array of interests, such as revitalizing agriculture in Haiti, developing sustainable coffee distribution systems in Colombia, establishing tropical crop production, developing sustainable crop production in China, working on supply chains and economic development, creating wildlife habitats in walnut orchards, working in extension programs, and joining the Peace Corps.

Read the rest of this entry »

Identifying High-Priority Dams For Fish Survival

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Long Valley Dam on the Owens River is one of 181 California dams UC Davis researchers identified as candidates for increased water flows to protect native fish downstream. (Image: Stephen Volpin)
Long Valley Dam on the Owens River is one of 181 California dams UC Davis researchers identified as candidates for increased water flows to protect native fish downstream. (Image: Stephen Volpin)

Scientists have identified 181 California dams that may need to increase water flows to protect native fish downstream.

Oct. 22, 2014
By Kat Kerlin
University of California, Davis

Scientists have identified 181 California dams that may need to increase water flows to protect native fish downstream. The screening tool developed by the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, to select “high-priority” dams may be particularly useful during drought years amid competing demands for water.

“It is unpopular in many circles to talk about providing more water for fish during this drought, but to the extent we care about not driving native fish to extinction, we need a strategy to keep our rivers flowing below dams,” said lead author Ted Grantham, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis during the study and currently a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “The drought will have a major impact on the aquatic environment.”

The study, published Oct. 15 in the journal BioScience, evaluated 753 large dams in California and screened them for evidence of altered water flows and damage to fish. About 25 percent, or 181, were identified as having flows that may be too low to sustain healthy fish populations.

The “high-priority” list includes:

  • Some of the state’s biggest dams: Trinity Dam on the Trinity River, New Melones Dam on the Stanislaus River, Pine Flat on Kings River, and Folsom Dam on the American River.
  • Dams on rivers with the greatest richness of native species: Woodbridge Diversion Dam on the Mokelumne River, Nash Dam in Shasta County, and three rubber dams on lower Alameda Creek.
  • Dams affecting the greatest number of native species with sensitive population status: Keswick and Anderson-Cottonwood dams on the Sacramento River, and Woodbridge and Nash dams.

A 2011 study found that 80 percent of California’s native fish are at risk of extinction if present trends Read the rest of this entry »

$18.75 M To Boost International Efforts

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Diana Barrett of UC Davis, left, watches as Noel Makete of Kenya and Pendo Bigambo of Tanzania slide amaranth leaves into a solar dryer for a demonstration of postharvest practices. Barrett led a year-long training of new postharvest experts from seven African countries that culminated in classes and demonstrations at the Postharvest Technology and Services Center in Arusha, Tanzania, as part of a project with the Horticulture Innovation Lab. (Photo: Amanda Crump | UC Davis)
Diana Barrett of UC Davis, left, watches as Noel Makete of Kenya and Pendo Bigambo of Tanzania slide amaranth leaves into a solar dryer for a demonstration of postharvest practices. Barrett led a year-long training of new postharvest experts from seven African countries that culminated in classes and demonstrations at the Postharvest Technology and Services Center in Arusha, Tanzania, as part of a project with the Horticulture Innovation Lab. (Photo: Amanda Crump | UC Davis)

New grant aims to build global food security and research international produce.

Oct. 17, 2014
By Pat Bailey
University of California, Davis

A new $18.75 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development will boost international fruit and vegetable research led by the University of California, Davis.

The award extends for five more years a research program established at UC Davis in 2009 as the Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program. Recently, the program was renamed the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Horticulture.

“We believe this new, larger investment validates the work we’ve done with the Horticulture Innovation Lab and recognizes the pivotal role that fruits and vegetables play in people’s lives, both in improving health and increasing rural incomes,” said Elizabeth Mitcham, program director and a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences.

New tools for farmers around the world

In its first four years, the Horticulture Innovation Lab trained nearly 32,000 individuals in more than 30 countries, including more than 9,800 farmers who have improved their farming practices. The program also established regional centers in Thailand, Honduras and Kenya as hubs to circulate the program’s research findings.

Through collaborative research, the program has successfully adapted more than 500 new tools, management practices and seed varieties to aid farmers who grow fruits and vegetables in different countries.

One such tool is called the CoolBot, a temperature control system developed by an American farmer as an inexpensive way to cool his farm’s produce. The system was later marketed to other small-scale farmers in the United States to reduce losses of fruits and vegetables after harvest. Read the rest of this entry »

Mail-In-Ballot Rejections Analyzed In Study

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Nearly 69,000 mailed ballots were not counted in the 2012 California General Election. (Photo: Chris J. Nicolini | UC Davis)
Nearly 69,000 mailed ballots were not counted in the 2012 California General Election. (Photo: Chris J. Nicolini | UC Davis)

Top reasons why ballots were rejected: not arriving on time, not being signed or because signatures could not be verified.

Sept. 26, 2014
By Jeffrey Day
University of California, Davis

Voting by mail surpassed 50 percent of votes cast in a general election in California for the first time in 2012. A new study shows that nearly 69,000 mailed ballots, or about 1 percent, were not counted, and why they were rejected.

The top three reasons mail-in ballots were rejected: not arriving on time, not being signed or because signatures could not be verified, according to the study to be released Sept. 29 by the California Civic Engagement Project at the University of California, Davis, Center for Regional Change.

“California has one of the highest mail ballot rejection rates in the country,” said study author Mindy Romero, director of the California Civic Engagement Project. “Although 1 percent may not seem very high, that’s tens of thousands of people whose votes were not counted. And these votes could make the difference in close elections.”

A panel discussion on voting by mail with Romero, Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation and Jill La Vine, registrar of voters for Sacramento County, will be held at noon, Oct. 14 at the UC Center in Sacramento.

“This is the first statewide study of why some mail-in ballots are rejected,” Romero said. “People have taken the time to study the issues, fill out the ballot and mail or deliver it. They trust it is going to be counted.”

Read the rest of this entry »