Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
University of California
Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Kearney News Updates

Drones are used for research and land management; do you want to learn how to use drones?

Jeffery Dahlberg, director of UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center (KARE), specializing in plant breeding and genetics, is working with drones to collect data for one of his sorghum programs. Work will continue the development of field scale drought nurseries at both KARE and West Side Research & Extension Center (WSREC) under a DOE ARPA-e funded project that utilizes drone technology to phenotype sorghum lines on a weekly basis as they are stressed under pre- and post-flowering drought stress. Research will continue this coming summer to gather additional phenotypic data, along with heat stress measurements and soil moisture monitoring. These nurseries are part of an effort to identify genes that are expressed under different field stress conditions and relate them to sorghum's ability to withstand and recover from stress. 

If you are interested in learning how to use drones for research and land management, you may want to explore attending the UCANR Informatics and GIS Program's  Dronecamp July 25-27, 2017 at UCANR in Davis, Calif., the application period is March 1 – April 15, 2017. Dronecamp costs $500 for UC affiliates (UC employees and enrolled students), and $900 for non-UC participants. Dronecomp is designed for participants with little or no experience in drone technology, and want to learn how to use drones for mapping applications. The intensive workshop covers drone science; safety and regulations; mission planning; flight operations; data processing; data analysis; visualization; and the latest trends and technology. Read more.

A drone collecting data from a drought stressed sorghum nursery.

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 4:36 PM

National invasive species awareness week was February 27 – March 3, 2017.

Invasive species are plants, animals, fungi or microbes that are not native to an area, but can quickly establish, multiply, and become pests. These species can hurt the environment, agricultural production, and even human health in some instances (e.g. the mosquito Aedes aegypti). According to the USDA, invasive species are responsible for $137 billion per year in economic losses in the United States. 

In agricultural systems, invasive species may reduce yields, render crops unmarketable, or make rangeland unfavorable to livestock. In natural areas, they may squeeze out native species, change soil quality, and increase the frequency or intensity of wildfires. 

Some of these species have been introduced intentionally (e.g., yellow sweetclover, which was originally imported from Europe as a forage species for livestock), while others arrived by accident (e.g., the glassy-winged sharpshooter which came to California inadvertently through nursery stock shipments). 

Just one species can be detrimental to crop production and revenues. The invasion of spotted-wing drosophila, for example, caused conventional raspberry growers in California to lose $36.4 million in revenue between 2009 and 2014, and would have reduced California raspberry yields by as much as 50% without control efforts. 

The spread of invasive pests has become more prevalent in recent decades, and is linked to several factors, including global travel, produce trade, and climate change. Many invasive pests spread by human movement—medusahead, for example, has long awns on its seeds that easily attach to clothing and animal fur, to be carried to other locations. A recent study by UC scientists also determined that due to climate change, invasive weeds are shifting their ranges at a faster rate than native plants, and will likely cause more problems in agriculture and natural resources in the future. The yellow starthistle, an invasive plant that dries out soil and degrades rangelands, is one of the pests that will expand its range further north in California (and beyond) due to climate change. 

While invasive pests can be a major challenge to growers and land managers, there are successful stories of stopping exotic pest invasions with well-coordinated eradication efforts. Recently, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) declared the European Grapevine Moth eradicated from California after no moths were found in the state from 2015 to 2016. This was due to a rapid response, largely by the UC Cooperative Extension scientists after the moth was discovered in Napa vineyards in 2008. 

Here's what you can do to keep from introducing or spreading invasive species:

  • Fully cooperate with agricultural inspections at the California state border and in your fields. When coming into California from another state, declare any plant or animal material that you have in your vehicle. Inspectors will thoroughly examine your materials or crops to make sure that they do not hold any invasive pests. This greatly reduces the chance that your activities will spread harmful invasive species.
  • Check and clean your clothes, shoes, and equipment before you move from one location to another. For example, thoroughly cleaning your shoes with water and a disinfectant after hiking through an area known to have sudden oak death will prevent you from tracking the pathogen into uncontaminated areas. Similarly, checking your clothes or shoes for weed seeds before leaving an area will keep you from spreading invasive weeds. 
  • “Burn it where you buy it.” Burn firewood in the same place you purchased it, rather than buying it and transporting it elsewhere. If you must transport firewood, be sure to declare it at the border and have it inspected, as described above.
  • Report invasive pests in your area. CDFA has a tool for reporting pests, but you can also contact your agricultural commissioner or UC Cooperative Extension to do so.

To learn more about invasive species, visit the UC IPM website. You will find a list of invasive insects, plants, diseases, and vertebrates in California, as well as links to other organizations and regulatory agencies that are also working to reduce their numbers.

Spotted-wing drosophila, an invasive pest.

Posted on Friday, March 3, 2017 at 5:37 PM

UC ANR will participate in the 2017 World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA.

UC ANR is participating in the World Ag Expo, held February 14, 15, and 16, 2017. Statewide programs, UC Cooperative Extension, and the Research and Extension Center System will have booths and personnel available for the entire show. We have booths 1411, 1412, 1512 and 1513. Wilcox Agri Products donated some space for an UC ANR conservation tillage tent in the M48-53 area. UC ANR will also have people participating in the newsmakers conference as well as providing seminars.

File photo of the World Ag Expo.

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 10:36 AM

UC ANR IPM academic coordinator is based at Kearney.

UC ANR IPM academic coordinator is based at Kearney.

Lori Berger is the new academic coordinator for the Pests, Pesticides and IPM Project. Berger joined ANR in 2014 to coordinate a program to identify and manage critical uses of chlorpyrifos in almonds, citrus, cotton and alfalfa. Berger has worked extensively with the regulatory community in developing science-based approaches to pest management and agricultural production, sharing her expertise on pest management, pollinator protection, international MRLs, water quality and soil health.

Based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Education Center in Parlier, Berger holds a Ph.D. in entomology and is a licensed pest control adviser as well as a certified crop adviser. Read more.

Lori Berger, academic coordinator for the pests, pesticides and IPM project.

Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 9:57 AM

The South San Joaquin Valley Region Invasive Aedes Workshop was held at Kearney Jan 20, 2017.

First reported in California in June 2013, the invasive mosquito Aedes aegypti can vector four viruses: yellow fever, dengue, Khikungunya and Zika. Moderated by entomologist Anthony Cornel, Ph.D. at Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center and the entomology department at UC Davis, the workshop's agenda included

  • Programmatic updates and discussion on surveillance, control, public outreach activities, and research efforts in greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District and the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District of the South San Joaquin Valley Region
  • Evaluation and discussion of surveillance techniques and integrated vector management approaches to control invasive Aedes in areas where established and newly invaded
  • Public outreach and community involvement
  • Response plans: discussion of how plans address the invasion/expansion of invasive Aedes, the mosquito control efforts in response to imported disease cases, and the response to autochthonous transmission of the disease
  • Discussion and summary

Many informational posters from the California Department of Health were available. There was also a sample of a screened storm water drain to exclude Aedes from underground egg laying locations.

An example of how to screen stormwater drains to exclude the Aedes mosquito from potential underground egg laying areas.

Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 4:10 PM

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