Monday, April 24, 2017

After Catching Bugs for Many Years, Field Scout Will Be Hanging up His Sweep Net



Field scout Carlos Silva has collected lots of bugs populating cotton and alfalfa fields across the San Joaquin Valley since 2013.

It’s tough to quantify the number, but you can safety estimate the pest count number in the tens of thousands. “I really enjoyed looking for bugs,” he says.

Catching an assassin bug and lots of aphids.
He’s seen blue alfalfa aphids, cowpea aphids, cotton aphids, alfalfa loopers, lygus bugs, stink bugs, spider mites, beet armyworms, assassin bugs, alfalfa caterpillars, alfalfa weevils and Egyptian alfalfa weevils to name a few.

After combing the fields the past four years, Carlos is hanging up his sweep net from the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project (SJSFP). He is joining the Better Cotton Initiative as a local staff member of the international nonprofit organization, which has its main global offices in London and Geneva, Switzerland. 

Dos Palos resident Damien Jelen will take over from Carlos, who in recent weeks has been showing Damien the ropes and the way around the many SJSFP-enrolled cotton and alfalfa fields. Jenna Mayfield continues as SJSFP’s almond field scout.

 “We are very pleased for Carlos and think it’s a great new job for him,” says Marcia Gibbs, Director of SJSFP, a program of the Sustainable Cotton Project. “We want to thank Carlos for four years of good work and dedication to our project. “
Field scouts Carlos Silva and Jenna Mayfield picking cotton.

Carlos says he won’t forget the field scout experience. “It has been great working with everyone. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the program staff, growers and University of California extension and farm advisors,” Carlos says.

Carlos enjoyed building relationships with local growers and seeing how they farm up close. He is impressed by the dedication and resiliency of growers during the drought.

Carlos uses his sweep net to snag bugs in an alfalfa field.
“They were really tested during the drought,” he says. Yet, they found ways to farm with tight water supplies, combat pests and manage their operations to stay afloat.

He also cites the expertise and dedication of UC extension advisors for helping growers deal with water, pest and disease management issues as well as developing innovative farm practices.
Carlos says he will miss his daily rounds scouting cotton and alfalfa fields. One thing he won’t miss: “the 110-degree weather.”



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