Posts Tagged: natural resources
The economic benefits of dedicating some farmland to grow native plants are not well understood. But for Winters farmer John Anderson, the question is less one of dollars and more one of sense, according to an article in the Vacaville Reporter.
As part of a Food Systems and Sustainability Symposium held at the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute recently, participants toured Anderson's Hedgerow Farms, where he produces more than 60 native plant species on 400 acres.
Anderson said native plants attract beneficial bugs, reduce erosion, stop invasive weeds, boost crop yields through native bee pollination and add a scenic touch to otherwise barren edges of farmland, writer Geoff Johnson reported.
California's natural ecosystems have been severely impacted by farming and development. UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Rachael Long said the state's biodiversity is likely to suffer even more as the state grows. California is expected to push past 50 million residents by 2032.
"There's tremendous pressure on our natural resources here," Long was quoted in the article. Because of the absence of economic incentives, Anderson said he believes the government should consider installing native plants. A location he pointed out to tour participants is 17,000 miles of irrigation canal banks in California's Central Valley. Adding native hedge rows to just five percent of that could make a dramatic difference, he said.
"There's tremendous pressure on our natural resources here," Long was quoted in the article.
Because of the absence of economic incentives, Anderson said he believes the government should consider installing native plants. A location he pointed out to tour participants is 17,000 miles of irrigation canal banks in California's Central Valley.
Adding native hedge rows to just five percent of that could make a dramatic difference, he said.
In the early 1800s, European immigrants introduced the fast-growing giant reed arundo (Arundo donax) into California to use the canes for musical instruments. The plants were also used for erosion control and the reeds used for thatched roofing. However, it has since naturalized and become a serious pest in the state's natural waterways.
Arundo can grow at a rate of four inches per day and can reach heights of 30 feet. It reproduces and spreads when sections of the stem or root break off and float downstream.
Dense stands of arundo displace native riparian species. The plant requires a significant amount of water, reducing fish, wildlife and people. In addition, clumps of arundo and the soil around their roots can break off, causing streambank erosion. The clumps can also create channel obstructions that lead to flooding.
Arundo is highly flammable and can quickly carry fire along waterways. After a fire, arundo quickly grows back from its roots. With other nearby plants burned by fire, arundo can spread even more quickly, leaving no room for native plants to recover.
Californians can help reduce the spread of arundo by taking the following actions:
- Learn more about arundo, including how to identify it
- Report sightings to local conservation groups
- Join local eradication efforts or help to start one
- If you own land with an arundo infestation, request help and provide access for control efforts
WPCS, a publicly traded company that provides wireless infrastructure and communications systems, issued a press release this week announcing $9 million in new contracts, including one for UC Cooperative Extension. According to the release, which was picked up by numerous business Web sites, including the International Business Times, UCCE selected WPCS to deploy a wireless data collection network.
"The project entails the deployment of wireless devices powered by solar energy located at certain watersheds throughout the state," the release says. "These wireless devices will obtain data on the volume and chemical composition of the water collected through natural rainfall and will transmit the data via a wireless connection back to the science center for analysis."
The new system means scientists will no longer need to undertake the time consuming task of visiting each watershed to collect data from manual recording devices.
"The project with the University of California Cooperative Extension is another example of how wireless technology saves time and money while increasing productivity," the company's executive vice president was quoted in the release.
If you know who in the UCCE system is working on this project, please leave a comment. This might be a good topic for a news release of our own that gives more details on the implications of what seems to be a fascinating use of high technology for natural resources research.