Posts Tagged: Climate-smart agriculture
To help California farmers and ranchers adjust to uncertain weather and climate events, the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture has awarded $1.5 million to a team of scientists led by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The project is one of six projects funded by USDA NIFA's $9 million investment to expand adoption of climate-smart practices.
“The Cooperative Extension system and the USDA Climate Hubs have unmatched capacity to reach agricultural, Tribal and underserved communities, as well as educators and students, and our nation's farmers directly,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement announcing the grant recipients. “This partnership will strengthen climate research efforts and accelerate the development, adoption and application of science-based, climate-smart practices that benefit everyone.”
California has the largest and the most diverse agricultural economy in the nation, with revenue exceeding $50 billion, which is larger than the revenues of the other 10 Western states combined. Despite its size, the state is highly vulnerable to climate change.
“California farmers and ranchers need locally relevant climate information and adaptation resources,” said Tapan Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Merced and principal investigator for the grant. “Similarly, technical service providers are often ill-equipped to assist farmers and ranchers when asked questions about climate change, weather variability and local implications to implement those decisions.”
To train the next generation of workers to be climate-ready, colleges expose students to climate science and agricultural science separately, but often lack opportunities for the students to learn about the nexus of climate and agriculture.
Pathak plans to provide classes – along with opportunities for practical learning experiences – to farmers, ranchers, agricultural service providers and students.
“An overarching goal of this project is to develop robust multifaceted pathways to climate-smart agriculture by integrating Extension and participatory education program development and delivery to enhance agricultural resilience to climate change,” he said.
“To tackle this ambitious goal, we have a large team of multidisciplinary leading scientists and experts from local, state and federal agencies, the California Climate Hub and the University of California ready to work with diverse stakeholder groups.”
UC Cooperative Extension specialists Leslie Roche, Vikram Koundinya and Daniele Zaccaria at UC Davis; Mark Cooper, UC Davis professor; and Steven Ostoja of the USDA California Climate Hub, are co-principal investigators with Pathak.
They will begin with a needs assessment for all of their stakeholders, including socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Through three components, the project team will work to understand growers' perception of climate change-related threats, build capacity for technical assistance providers to advance climate-smart agriculture research and delivery of science-based information, and educate community college and undergraduate university students.
Engaging with farmers and ranchers
With the help of community partners including the Community Alliance of Family Farmers and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, the team will reach out to socially disadvantaged and limited-resource producers, including beginning and first-generation farmers and ranchers to attend regional workshops, led by instructors who are fluent in Spanish and Hmong.
Workshop content will address a broad range of topics including climate change trends and local impacts, drought planning strategies, optimization of agricultural productivity with limited resources and farm and ranch economic sustainability.
“California has so much diversity in terms of scale, crops, geography, micro-climates, market conditions and natural resource considerations that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work,” wrote Renata Brillinger, CalCAN executive director, in her letter supporting the project. “We support your plans to address the needs of producers though region-specific workshops.”
Five county-based UC Cooperative Extension academics will serve as regional leads for the farming workshops across broad geographic regions:
- Andre Biscaro, UCCE irrigation and water resources advisor serving Ventura County
- Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, UCCE small farms advisor for Fresno and Tulare counties
- Surendra Dara, UCCE entomology and biologicals advisor serving San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties
- Jairo Diaz, director of the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in Southern California
- Jhalendra Rijal, UCCE integrated pest management advisor serving San Joaquin and Merced counties
Workshops for ranchers and rangeland managers will be coordinated by UCCE rangeland and livestock advisors in their respective regions:
- Dan Macon, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Plumas, Nevada, Sutter and Yuba counties, will organize workshops for the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothill region
- Grace Woodmansee, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Siskiyou County, will organize workshops in Northern California
- Rebecca Ozeran, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Fresno and Madera counties, will organize workshops in Central California
- Devii Rao, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor for Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, will organize workshops in the coastal region
- Brooke Latack, UCCE livestock advisor for Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, will organize workshops in Southern California
Training technical service providers
The team will offer climate-smart agriculture trainings for technical service providers on how to prepare for key stressors in California agriculture such as floods, droughts, wildfires and heatwaves; effective climate communications; invasive pests and disease management under future climate; and weather and climate resources and decision support tools for managing risks.
One of the aims of this component is to encourage more coordinated efforts among different agencies to deliver climate change resources to their respective stakeholders, Pathak said.
California Cattlemen's Association has expressed its support for the project.
“Given ranchers' strong relationships with and reliance upon technical services providers – particularly those housed within the USDA and University of California – CCA also sees great value in the project's goal of building capacity within those organizations to assist ranchers in addressing the challenges of climate change,” wrote Kirk Wilbur, CCA vice president of government affairs.
Nurturing future generations
For college students, there will be the UC Merced Summer Institute on Climate and Agriculture certificate course organized by Karina Diaz Rios, UC Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Merced; the UC Davis credit-based course “Science and Society: Climate Change and Agriculture;”and a certificate course for community college students, which will be overseen by the Bay Area Community College Consortium of 28 colleges.
“We will join you in this exciting work and shared vision towards inclusive education in climate resilient agriculture,” wrote Nancy Gutierrez, statewide director of the Agriculture, Water, Environmental Tech sector of the California Community College System.
Students from the three courses will be selected for paid summer internships to engage in Cooperative Extension projects.
“Through climate-smart agriculture education, the workforce will be prepared to advance climate science and research efforts for future generations,” Pathak said.
We would like to congratulate the 13 Imperial County farmers who received a total of $1,073,697.97 from CDFA's Healthy Soil Incentive Program.
California Department Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been providing financial initiatives to California growers and ranchers through its Healthy Soil Program to enable farmers to implement conservation management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), and improve soil health.
These 13 award-winning projects will reduce GHG emissions by an estimated 3,689.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to 797 passenger vehicles driven for one year.
This is a groundbreaking achievement for our county and a huge jump from last year's HSP solicitation period, demonstrating that farmers in this region are becoming very interested in adopting climate smart agricultural practices, provided they have funding.
“These climate smart agriculture incentive programs assist farmers in doing their part to try to sequester carbon and help sustain the environment,” Ronnie Leimgruber, one of the 13 Healthy Soils grant recipients, says. “Being awarded this grant will allow me to apply more compost than I normally would.”
2020 is the first year that Imperial County growers and ranchers applied for the Healthy Soil grants, which began in 2017.
With a maximum award of $100,000 per award, this grant was a great opportunity for California farming operations to pilot conservation management practices such as compost application, cover crops, nutrient management, and reduced till/no till for 3 to 10 years (depending on the practice) with minimal financial investment on their part. For the farmers and ranchers interested in the environmental benefits but unable to afford the cost of implementing these practices on their own, this program is a chance to try them firsthand.
UC Cooperative Extension in Imperial County and Imperial County Farm Bureau partnered to provide technical assistance for the Healthy Soils Program and Alternative Manure Management Program for 2020. Together we conducted outreach, held a series of workshops and assisted individuals with their grant applications.
The goal was to bring awareness to these climate smart agriculture incentive programs and assist growers in applying and maximizing their chances of receiving grants. Overall, Imperial County saw great progress from the prior year in the number of applicants and amount of awards, drawing recognition from Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
We are optimistic that these programs will continue to grow in future years, assisting local farmers in implementing additional farming practices that continue to benefit the environment. We encourage grant recipients to contact us for assistance with project implementation and data collection.
This year, CDFA's Healthy Soil Incentive Program received a total of 578 applications requesting $37.87 million, exceeding the $22 million available funds.
CDFA secretary Karen Ross stated, "Soil has the transformative power to help us stabilize our changing climate by capturing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere and storing them underground, through the assistance of living plants and microbes, that improve both the atmosphere and the soil."
These conservation management practices are known to promote on-farm sustainability by building organic matter, encouraging nutrient cycling, increasing water holding capacity, reducing soil compaction, and lessening the need for synthetic fertilizers. In general, if you enrich your soil, it will boost the productivity of your cropping systems. However, every agricultural operation varies in its needs, the benefit it obtains from different conservation management practices depends on the location, size, crop rotation, irrigation system, and soil type. To enhance applicability according to site specific needs, CDFA allows applicants to choose from four categories, totaling 28 eligible practices selected from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) conservation practices standards.
For more information about climate smart agriculture, please contact me, Kristian Salgado, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (442) 265-7700.
Scientists are developing climate-smart farming practices, California is offering financial incentives to implement them, and now a group of 10 UC Cooperative Extension climate-smart educators are taking the program to the next level.
To help farmers apply for grants to improve soil quality and enhance irrigation systems, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources partnered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to put climate smart educators in 10 California communities. The educators are working closely with UCCE advisors to help farmers and ranchers improve soil health, irrigation practices and manure management.
The climate smart programs offered by CDFA and promoted by UC ANR educators are:
- State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program
- Healthy Soils Program
- Alternative Manure Management Program
The educators provide hands-on assistance to farmers and ranchers through the complex application process, conduct field days with climate-smart farmers, establish demonstration plots to share the practices, and work with farmers who are voluntarily implementing climate-smart farming.
Most of the educators were hired in early 2019, just weeks before the application deadline. They are now gearing up for a second cycle of applications. The state funded 194 projects in 2018, and 217 in 2019.
Each of the educators has a passion for agriculture and the environment, shaped by their upbringing, experiences and education.
“I am interested in carrying out research that focuses on the adoption and economics of climate change best management practices. The practices should help farmers continue their business,” said Esther Mosase, climate-smart educator in San Diego County. “I'm interested in seeing policymakers making policies that have a farmer as a focal point. They have been here long, they have been tilling the land, they can also contribute in coming up with better solutions that reduce climate change.”
The state is providing incentives for farmers to improve soil health in order to moderate the conditions that are driving global climate change. Improving soil health increases its ability to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Side benefits include improved water infiltration, nutrient cycling and dust control.
Farmers can apply for three-year grants to implement new practices on their farm, such as reducing tillage, growing cover crops and applying compost. Conventional farm practices turn the earth, releasing the stored carbon back into the atmosphere.
UCCE's 10 new climate-smart educators are:
UC Cooperative Extension, Mendocino County
email@example.com, (707) 463-4158
Baskerville started college as a theater major in Sacramento, then realized that wouldn't result in a viable career. After suffering from an autoimmune disease tied to microbiome health, she began to understand the important role of the food and agricultural industries in public health. Baskerville earned a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley that combines sustainable agriculture with the sociological and ecological impacts of agriculture, natural resources conservation and public health.
Last summer, Baskerville served as a program coordinator in an adaptive agriculture learning environment, where she designed two practicum programs for adults. She is considering a career in the food industry.
UC Cooperative Extension, Merced County
firstname.lastname@example.org, (209) 385-7403
Bergren grew up in a small fishing town on an island in Alaska. She earned a bachelor's degree in earth systems at Stanford University in 2013, and then spent two and a half years in Paraguay as a Peace Corps volunteer. Bergren worked with a women's garden cooperative and with subsistence farmers. She spent the last three years as a community organizer.
“I was so excited to find this job, which combines my interests in working directly with all kinds of people on the intersection of agriculture and climate change,” Bergren said. “I've especially enjoyed using my Spanish-language skills to work with traditionally underserved farmers in this area.”
UC Cooperative Extension, Glenn County
email@example.com, (530) 517-8187
Brady completed a bachelor's degree in animal science at Chico State University in 2018. She was familiar with UC Cooperative Extension through school and had visited UCCE research sites.
Brady grew up in a farming and ranching family in rural Linden, southeast of Stockton.
“My earliest memory is of my grandfather's farm, where he had an emu, donkey and llama,” she said. “I was in 4-H and FFA as long as I can remember.”
In addition to working directly with farmers on grant applications, Brady has been helping advisors in Glenn County on research projects and building relationships in the community through workshops and seminars.
“I am also very excited for an upcoming event at an elementary school farm day to present about Climate Smart Agriculture and presenting at some bigger events later this year with a few others in the cohort,” Brady said.
Samikshya (Sami) Budhathoki
UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno and Madera counties
firstname.lastname@example.org, (559) 241-7515
A native of Nepal, Budhathoki traveled to the United States in 2015 to attend college at Fresno State, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in plant science. During her studies, she completed a weed and salinity management project with professor Anil Shrestha. Budhathoki served as an intern in plant pathology with Bayer Crop Science.
She developed in interest in agriculture because of the industry's importance to society and the world.
“Some people don't get enough to eat even once a day. I wanted to join the effort to end world hunger and food insecurity,” Budhathoki said.
Budhathoke said she also is concerned about climate change and welcomes the opportunity to help farmers maintain a sustainable agriculture industry even in the face of climate change.
In the future, she plans to pursue graduate studies in climate change or water management.
UC Cooperative Extension, Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties
email@example.com, (530) 405-9777
Lovell grew up in Sacramento and developed an interest in agriculture when she was overcoming a serious illness. She graduated from UC Davis in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in sustainable agriculture and food systems.
“Originally, I didn't want to make money in agriculture,” she said. “I wanted to live off the land. I believe farming is a political act and I wanted to help return power to the people through farming and land ownership.”
Lovell said she is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in an area that combines community resiliency through localized food systems and economics and, eventually, becoming a crop adviser.
San Diego County
firstname.lastname@example.org, (858) 282-6737
Mosase has a master's degree in agricultural engineering from Botswana College of Agriculture and a doctorate from South Dakota State University in civil engineering. Her master's research focused on water resources, watershed modeling and management.
Raised in a farming family in Botswana, Mosase experienced the impact of climate change firsthand.
“I remember we had drought years, normal years and extremely wet years,” she said. “Twenty years ago, it was not uncommon for open water to freeze. But now we get mild winters and very hot summers. Rain-fed agriculture is now a risky enterprise compared to two decades ago.”
In addition to helping farmers with the climate-smart farming grant applications, Mosase is helping farmers cope with water quality concerns.
“For instance, one farmer wanted to improve the water quality at the edge of his avocado and citrus farm before it enters the stream. He also wanted to be helped with pools of standing water in the farm that usually affect the health of avocado trees,” Mosase said. “We advised him on what to do regarding the standing water, but for the edge of the field treatment, we decided to install bioreactors.”
Mosase will help collect field data on the bioreactors' effectiveness and plans to publish the results.
UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Cruz County
email@example.com, (831) 763-8028
Perez earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural business at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2018. She accepted an internship with a large animal veterinarian, and found her passion, she said. In addition to working as a climate smart community educator, Perez is taking prerequisite courses for veterinary school. She hopes her career will lead to conducting research to benefit the meat industry.
“I've always been interested in ways to better agriculture and how our systems could improve, but it wasn't until I received this job that my interest for climate-smart agriculture really peaked,” Perez said. “Agriculture is such an important industry, it is vital that we find ways to educate one another on how to better what we have been doing for so many years.”
UC Cooperative Extension, Ventura County
firstname.lastname@example.org, (805) 645-1464
Rowe has a bachelor's degree in biology from Colorado College in Colorado Springs and a master's degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara. Her background and interests focus on the interface of land management and climate change.
“Everyone and everything is interwoven with our food system and yet so much of how we produce food accelerates climate change,” Rowe said. “I enjoy being at the interface of science and education, where the rubber meets the road. I wanted to find a role where I could work with people on the ground and implement solutions to climate change while contributing to resilient farming economies.”
She said it is encouraging to see that farmers and ranchers are interested in climate-smart agriculture and welcome the technical assistance.
UC Cooperative Extension, Imperial County
email@example.com, (442) 265-7700
Salgado attended San Diego State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in 2014 with a double major in psychology and environmental studies and minors in counseling and social change. She earned a master's degree in social science at Humboldt State University in 2018.
“My background in agriculture is very broad ranging, from topics relating to public health concerns connected to agriculture production – pesticide drift and agricultural burning – to food insecurity in low-income communities,” Salgado said.
Salgado is a native of Calexico, a city located across the border from its sister city, Mexicali, Mexico. Her farming experience centers on urban agriculture.
“Growing food on non-agricultural land has allowed me to learn the technical/scientific processes that go into growing food,” she said.
Salgado plans to continue her education in a doctoral program in ethnic studies at UC San Diego, where she can focus on several overlapping areas of interest, including race studies, food justice, sustainable agriculture, climate change, environmental decision-making processes, and participatory action research methodology and practices.
UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County
firstname.lastname@example.org, (661) 868-2168
Shroder attended college at the University of Maryland in College Park, earning bachelor's degrees in environmental science and policy and in Spanish language, literature and cultures. She has worked in an agricultural research lab, in the gardens at the University of Maryland and in a nearby organic farm. After graduating in 2016, Shroder volunteered with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, where she trained farmers on gardening and agroforestry techniques and extended improved varieties of staple crops like beans, corn, millet and sorghum.
“While serving in Senegal, I saw firsthand the effects of desertification and erratic rainfall on the ability of the community to feed itself,” she said
Shroder intends to earn a master's degree and continue to research and promote sustainable agriculture techniques.
UCCE climate-smart educator Esther Mosase, left, and UCCE specialist Jeff Mitchell at a field day.