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Posts Tagged: Alan Fulton

Drought is driving interest in high-tech irrigation systems

Overhead irrigation systems can be part of an agricultural system that improves irrigation management, increases carbon storage and builds soil quality.
Interest in new irrigation technology is getting a boost from the ongoing California drought, reported Kate Campbell in AgAlert.

Allan Fulton, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Glenn, Shasta and Tehama counties, said technology is improving the ability to organize crop data and get it to farm managers on the fly.

"With the right system," Fulton said, "farmers can get almost to-the-minute information on every aspect of their crop."

As new, integrated database systems are being created, new data-gathering equipment also is advancing for field use to further aid on-farm decisions, the article said. For example, the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced last week a $286,000 grant to UC Davis for work on a continuous leaf moisture monitoring system. Using thermal infrared sensors along with environmental sensors that measure ambient temperature and relative humidity, wind speed and incident radiation, the system's goal is to detect crop water status to support irrigation management.

Jeff Mitchell, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, is evaluating overhead, or center pivot, irrigation technology, especially in a system that includes conservation tillage. The research is being conducted at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points with equipment donated by industry.

The work group focuses on emerging crop- and soil-management techniques — conservation tillage, high-surface residue preservation, cover crops — to improve irrigation management, increase carbon storage and build soil quality.

"We're developing completely new cropping systems for the valley," Mitchell said, "and these get at the so-called three E's of farming—integration of equipment, economics and ecology."

Kings County farmer Dino Giacomazzi, said growers are thinking in terms of systems these days. Giacomazzi is a founding member of UC's Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation, a workgroup that Mitchell chairs.

"It's very difficult to put things together piecemeal. Even to get advice about these more advanced systems is difficult," Giacomazzi said.

Posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 7:41 PM
Tags: Alan Fulton (3), CASI (15), Jeff Mitchell (39)

Drought news dominates the headlines

Production rates for thirsty crops like alfalfa and cotton have already diminished significantly in the last few years. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The historical California drought of 2013-14 continues to dominate the news, and reporters are turning to the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources sources for analysis and commentary.

NBC News spoke to Doug Parker, director of the California Institute of Water Resources, about drought implications already being felt in the California agricultural sector.

He said an estimated 500,000 acres of farmland sits unplanted due to water shortages, a number that could nearly double if the drought extends into 2015.

"In the long term, it could change some of the cropping patterns in California, especially for the animal industry," Parker told NBC, explaining that the economics of raising and tending livestock hinges on locally grown feed. "Without water to grow it, you really end up just having to sell off animals." Much of the state's beef cattle, for example, roam unirrigated rangelands that are parched.

Parker was also quoted in a drought story by Aljazeera America, which focused on Gov. Brown's $687 million emergency drought plan.

“I think it's a good first start,” Parker said. “But I don't think this will be the end of it.”

Gov. Brown's proposal doesn't provide funding for long-term solutions to California's water problems, but it could provide much-needed immediate assistance to many of the driest communities. 

Capital Press spoke to Alan Fulton, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Tehama, Colusa, Glen and Shasta counties, about the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's dire 2014 surface water allocation plan. He said most farmers will rely on groundwater to get through the season.

"The main thing that will happen is just improving their wells and making sure they're operable,” Fulton said. “They're trying to manage through the drought with hopes of a wet year next year.”

Mother Jones featured a drought story rich with infographics outlining the surprising amount of water required to grow common food crops and the amount of water used per person per day in California communities. The article includes commentary from Jay Lund, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis, about the future of agriculture in the Golden State.

Lund said the state's current water problems mean agriculture may soon play a less important role in California's economy, as the business of growing food moves to the South and the Midwest, where water is less expensive. Production rates for thirsty crops like alfalfa and cotton have already diminished significantly in the last few years, Lund said. Between 2006 and 2010 alone, the amount of land irrigated for cotton fell by 46 percent.

Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:10 AM
Tags: Alan Fulton (3), Doug Parker (16), drought (162), water (72)

UCCE plans meeting to help producers with new water rules

The new law is mainly geared toward irrigated pasture.
Farmers and ranchers who use river or stream water must start submitting precise monthly records to the California Water Quality Control Board this year, said an article by Tim Hearden in Capital Press.

Before the new law took effect, the water board asked landowners for estimates, said Allan Fulton, a University of California Cooperative Extension advisor who serves Colusa, Glenn and Shasta counties. Fulton is an irrigation and water resources expert.

"There is a statewide effort at trying to more precisely understand and quantify how water is being used," he said.

UC Cooperative Extension will host a workshop March 31 to discuss the new requirement.

"I've had enough questions that I thought we ought to organize something," said Larry Forero, a UCCE director and advisor in Trinity County who specializes in livestock and natural resources.

Agritourism generates income, promotes farms
Tim Hearden, Capital Press

Agritourism, or activities and products offered on working farms to generate extra income from visitors, is a growing movement in California.

A recent UC survey determined that about 2.4 million visitors came to California farms in 2008 to enjoy some facet of agritourism, which could include lodges and cabins, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, "U-pick" operations and special events such as weddings and conferences.

"I think it really does help" farms, said UC agritourism coordinator Penny Leff. "It helps their name recognition if they're selling at the farmers' market or local stores. It helps in general for people to understand what farming's about, that food comes from farms."

Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Tags: agritourism (24), Alan Fulton (3), Larry Forero (4), Penny Leff (7), water (72)
 
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