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Ride to UCD Arboretum Teaching Nursery

Hitched a ride with a friend last week to a plant sale at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery. I trust the plants they sell will be “true to form” and live up to the size, use, water, care, and feeding regime stated on the plant labels.  
 
I managed to stay focused as I perused their healthy selection of plants. This time I put together a selection of plants to replace a small bed at the entrance to my back garden. The bed is bordered on both sides by narrow concrete paths used as walkways to haul out our trash bins. I carefully gathered plants that should not venture outside the bed boundary as they mature.
 
I have high hopes for a Lavendula allardii ‘Meerlo' PP25559 according to the label provided by the Sunset Western Garden Collection. This lavender is a compact  24-36” high by 24-30” wide liking full sun to part shade useful in borders and containers. The leaves are variegated and fragrant with deep violet-blue flowers in late spring. It also attracts butterflies and has little need for fertilizer. It will be drought-tolerant once established. It is also deer-resistant.
 
Also chosen were a couple of variegated sage, an ornamental grass, Festuca idahoeensis ‘Clearwater Blue', and a California fuchsia, Epilobium canum ‘Bowman's #1'. All drought-tolerant with complimentary coloring. 
 
With this plant grouping I really spent time selecting plants that will fit this space at maturity, it was so tempting to choose a number of dazzlers at this plant sale, but for once I stated on point.
Attached Files
photo by Trisha Rose

photo by Trisha Rose
photo by Trisha Rose

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 1:52 PM

Bring the wild back into our farmlands to protect biodiversity, researchers say

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Berkeley — With a body the size of a fist and wings that span more than a foot, the big brown bat must gorge on 6,000 to 8,000 bugs a night to maintain its stature. This mighty appetite can be a boon to farmers battling crop-eating pests.

But few types of bats live on American farms. That's because the current practice of monoculture – dedicating large swathes of land to a single crop – doesn't give the bats many places to land or to nest. 

Diversifying working lands – including farmland, rangeland and forests – may be key to preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change, says a new review paper published this week in Science by conservation biologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Benzinger Family Winery is a diversified vineyard in Sonoma County. (Photo: Corey Luthringer)

Diversification could be as simple as adding trees or hedgerows along the edges of fields, giving animals like birds, bats and insects places to live, or as complex as incorporating a patchwork of fields, orchards, pasture and flowers into a single working farm.

These changes could extend the habitat of critters like bats, but also much larger creatures like bears, elk and other wildlife, outside the boundaries of parks and other protected areas, while creating more sustainable, and potentially more productive, working lands.

“Protected areas are extremely important, but we can't rely on those on their own to prevent the pending sixth mass extinction,” said study co-author Adina Merenlender, a UC Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. “This is even more true in the face of climate change, because species will need to move around to adapt to shifts in temperature and climate.”

Diversified farms could include crops, pastures, orchards and woodland. (Photo: Xerces)

A win-win for wildlife and for farms

Maintaining even small pieces of the original landscape – even a single tree– can help conserve the original diversity of species, Merenlender said. Clearing oak woodlands and shrublands to establish large vineyards hits many native species hard. Animals that are well adapted to urban and agricultural areas, such as mockingbirds, house finches and free-tail bats, continue to flourish, while animals that are more sensitive to disturbance, like acorn woodpeckers, orange-crowned warblers and big brown bats, begin to drop away. “If you can leave shrubs, trees and flowering plants, the habitat suitability -- not just for sensitive birds but also for other vertebrates – goes way up,” Merenlender said. This is true not only in California's vineyards, but on working lands around the world.

Incorporating natural vegetation makes the farm more hospitable to more creatures, while reducing the use of environmentally degrading chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and man-made fertilizer.

A vineyard in California's central coast is an example of industrialized agriculture. (Photo: Steve Zmak, https://stevezmak.com/)

The ideal farming landscape includes woodland pastures and vegetable plots bumping up against orchards and small fields, said Claire Kremen, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Integrating livestock produces manure which can fertilize the crops, while those same crops produce feed for livestock. Birds and bats provide pest control, and bees boost crop production by pollinating plants.

“It is possible for these working landscapes to support biodiversity but also be productive and profitable,” Kremen said. “And ultimately, this is where we have to go. We just can't keep mining our soils for their fertility and polluting our streams – in the end, this will diminish our capacity to continue producing the food that we need. Instead, we must pay attention to the species, from microbes to mammals, that supply us with critical services, like pollination, pest control and nutrient cycling”

“We have some amazing diversified farms, sustainably managed forests and species-rich rangelands here in California that exemplify working lands for conservation around the world,” Merenlender said. “We are calling for a scaling up of this approach around the world, and to do that we champion community-based action and more supportive polices” Kremen concludes.

RELATED INFORMATION

CONTACTS

Claire Kremen, ckremen@berkeley.edu, 510-367-2100 (cell)
Adina Merenlender, adinam@berkeley.edu, (707) 489-4362

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 12:58 PM
  • Author: Kara Manke, kjmanke@berkeley.edu, (510) 643-7741
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Environment

Hungry, Hungry Caterpillars!

A Gulf Fritillary laying eggs on her host plant, passionflower vine. Note the eggs (yellow dots) on the left. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

It starts out slow. Beginning in the spring (and sometimes year-around in some locales) Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae) lay their eggs on...

A Gulf Fritillary laying eggs on her host plant, passionflower vine. Note the eggs (yellow dots) on the left. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Gulf Fritillary laying eggs on her host plant, passionflower vine. Note the eggs (yellow dots) on the left. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Gulf Fritillary laying eggs on her host plant, passionflower vine. Note the eggs (yellow dots) on the left. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

By fall, the only thing left on the passionflower vine is the fruit. The leaves are gone. The hungry caterpillars are like insect shredding machines. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
By fall, the only thing left on the passionflower vine is the fruit. The leaves are gone. The hungry caterpillars are like insect shredding machines. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

By fall, the only thing left on the passionflower vine is the fruit. The leaves are gone. The hungry caterpillars are like insect shredding machines. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

No leaves--just fruit--remain on this skeletonized passionflower vine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
No leaves--just fruit--remain on this skeletonized passionflower vine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

No leaves--just fruit--remain on this skeletonized passionflower vine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The end result: a Gulf Fritillary adult. This one is nectaring on a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The end result: a Gulf Fritillary adult. This one is nectaring on a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The end result: a Gulf Fritillary adult. This one is nectaring on a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

New UC oat hay varieties show disease resistance and frost avoidance

Photo: Frost injury to Montezuma (left, Yolo Co.) when min temperatures were below 32F (28F-31F) for 5 days late February (CIMIS, Davis, CA 2018). Newer oat hay varieties (right) head out later, often avoiding frost injury.

Several new University of California forage oat varieties have been developed by Dr. Cal Qualset, Small Grains program, UC Davis recently. ...

Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 6:52 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

They Don't Announce Their Arrival or Departure

A female variegated meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum, perches on a bamboo stake in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

They don't announce their arrival or departure. If you're an insect photographer, or a wanna-be-insect photographer, expect the unexpected and don't...

A female variegated meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum, perches on a bamboo stake in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A female variegated meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum, perches on a bamboo stake in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A female variegated meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum, perches on a bamboo stake in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

In this view, you can see the “bi-colored” Pterostigma on the wing tip and the two black spots on the top of the tip of the abdomen,
In this view, you can see the “bi-colored” Pterostigma on the wing tip and the two black spots on the top of the tip of the abdomen," noted Greg Kareofelas, Bohart Museum of Entomology associate. "This is unique to this species (Sympetrum corruptum)." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

In this view, you can see the “bi-colored” Pterostigma on the wing tip and the two black spots on the top of the tip of the abdomen," noted Greg Kareofelas, Bohart Museum of Entomology associate. "This is unique to this species (Sympetrum corruptum)." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A blurred Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) forms a backdrop for the variegated meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A blurred Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) forms a backdrop for the variegated meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A blurred Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) forms a backdrop for the variegated meadowhawk dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A flickering light and backdrop of a Mexican sunflower add to this image of the dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A flickering light and backdrop of a Mexican sunflower add to this image of the dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A flickering light and backdrop of a Mexican sunflower add to this image of the dragonfly, Sympetrum corruptum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 5:00 PM

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