Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Field Days Bring the Classroom to Central Valley Farmers

Farmer education in the field can trace its origins to the early days of public agricultural colleges.
Yes, farms dotted the Berkeley landscape in the 1900s.
In the Golden State, the University of California laid the foundation for an agricultural extension system more than a century ago in which farming was an early focus at the institution’s first campus in Berkeley. Yes, there were farms in Berkeley.

By 1907, university research farms were established in Davisville (now known as Davis) and Riverside.  Soon, UC and local entities began teaming up to create Cooperative Extension programs to provide farmers advice on local conditions and crops as well as education.

Visitors flock to open house at the Davisville research farm.
Today, Valley farmers have come to value the advice and expertise of farm advisors as well as UC farm researchers.

One firm believer is Firebaugh almond grower Gina Rushing.  “TheUC experts are at the cutting edge of what is going on.They educated me on all kinds of things. The information is phenomenal,” she says about attending field day programs.

Rushing and other growers will tell you that farming is like the weather: It’s ever changing and unpredictable.  Novice farmers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from UC ag advisors. “Even the older guys are learning. When I got into farming people use to say no year will ever be the same. Things are constantly changing.”

That’s why bringing UC advisors and other experts to the field to meet with growersare so valuable. On March 30, the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project will feature top UC farm experts at its first field day of the season for almond, alfalfa and cotton growers.

The free event is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Firebaugh Mendota United Methodist Church, 1660 O Street in Firebaugh. It will offer important information about pesticide use and reduced risk strategies for controlling pests while protecting water, soil and air quality in the San Joaquin Valley. The line-up of speakers:

·         UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management extension advisor Dr. Pete Goodell, who will cover insect pest management in a changing era: returning to integration.
Dr. Pete Goodell talks at a field day with cotton growers.
·         Merced County-based UC Cooperative Extension Pomologist David Doll, a very popular speaker and expert in almonds. He will discuss vital springtime pest and disease management practices in almonds to prevent diseases such as alternaria, rust and scab. He will outline timing and choice of materials for control and use of reduced risk materials.
UCCE pomologist David Doll addresses almond growers.
·         Orvil McKinnis of the Westside San Joaquin River Watershed Coalition willupdate growers about the state of the watershed and uses of pesticides and fertilizers and their impacts on local water quality.
This is a great opportunity for growers to ask questions and meet with these experts. In addition, three hours of CCA credits, two hours in laws and regulation and one hour of other continuing education credits have been applied for.
 During the meeting, growers also can sign up to participate in the SJSFP, a year-long program that provides farmers with valuable strategies to improve yields while becoming better environmental stewards in today’s challenging economic and regulatory climate. For more information about the field day or participating in the SJSFP, contact Project Director Marcia Gibbs at (530) 370-5325. See you there.

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