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Posts Tagged: Mark Battany

Roof-top gardens on LA skyscrapers connect people with food

UC Cooperative Extension's Rachel Surls said consumer preferences are driving the growth of urban agriculture.
Galvanized horse troughs arranged on the top of a Los Angeles skyscraper have become a productive high-rise herb and vegetable garden, providing ultra-fresh produce to an on-site restaurant, reported Robert Holguin on KABC TV.

"Chefs are using what's produced (in the garden) in their kitchens because they know their customers appreciate fresh, local food," said Rachel Surls, the sustainable food systems advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.

Surls was part of a recent tour of urban agriculture in downtown Los Angeles, a story that was also covered by the LA Times.

The visitors — who included growers, urban policymakers, consultants, entrepreneurs and representatives of nonprofits — wandered around the vegetable beds and asked questions as they got a taste of the garden. The article said the garden, on the fifth floor of a building at 6th and Figueroa streets, cost about $40,000 to build and yields as much as $150,000 worth of produce every year.

Other news:

Drought clouds future of California wine industry
W. Blake Gray, Wine-searcher-com

The California drought didn't impact the wine industry in 2014, but a dry forecast for next year has growers worried. One major issue is the buildup of salts in soils, said Mark Battany, UC Cooperative farm advisor in San Luis Obispo County. During a wet winter, these salts are washed away. But California hasn't had a wet winter in three years. Farmers were able to irrigate at the beginning of the drought to make up the difference, but increasingly water supplies are restricted.

Battany says that excess salt buildup in the soil can cause grapevines to lose their leaves. "Without a way to process sunlight, you won't see sugar ripening," he said.

Showdown looms as California eyes pesticides
Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press

Organic farmers are challenging a proposed California pest-management program they say enshrines a pesticide-heavy approach for decades to come, including compulsory spraying of organic crops at the state's discretion.

The farmers are concerned about the California Department of Food and Agriculture's pest-management plan, the article says. The 500-page document lays out its planned responses to the next wave of fruit flies, weevils, beetles, fungus or blight that threatens crops. Many groups challenging the plan complained that it seems to authorize state agriculture officials to launch pesticide treatments without first carrying out the currently standard separate environmental-impact review.

The article reported that the California organic agriculture industry grew by 54 percent between 2009 and 2012. California leads the nation in organic sales, according to statistics tracked by UC Cooperative Extension specialist Karen Klonsky, who says the state is responsible for roughly one-third of a national organic industry.

Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 9:49 AM

'On the road' reporter visits with UC Cooperative Extension advisor

Mark Battany at a San Luis Obispo County vineyard.
Reporter Cary Blake of Western Farm Press visited with UC Cooperative Extension advisor Mark Battany during a California road trip being chronicled in the magazine's new Farm Press Blog. Battany is a viticulture expert serving San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

The topic of his conversation with Blake was water, or more specifically, the lack thereof.

Battany said local groundwater levels in the Paso Robles area continue to decline. He is conducting research as part of a two-state project (California and Washington) to improve water efficiency in wine-grape production.

Farm's experiment with no-till cotton shows promise
Cecelia Parsons, AgAlert

Danny Ramos, the innovative manager of Lucero Farms near Dos Palos, welcomed growers and researchers to view no-till cotton being cultivated at the ranch.

"No one else in California has done no-till cotton on this scale, and done it successfully," said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis.

The crop follows four years of tomatoes and dry farmed wheat that was planted last winter. Without rain, the wheat failed. He decided to shred the plants and plant cotton into the residue.

The no-till field is using less water than an adjacent tilled field, Ramos said.

"With high water costs, no-till is the way to go," he said.

Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 2:53 PM
Tags: Jeff Mitchell (45), Mark Battany (3)

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