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

Kearney News Updates

Please consider attending the two drone workshops scheduled at Kearney April 13th and April 14th 2017.

UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) will be the location for two related drone workshops. The goals of these workshops are to provide an overview of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology and best practices for data collection, and an insight of drone regulations and data processing to affiliates of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), as well as public and private resource professionals. 

Each workshop costs $30. 

Drone Technology and Data Collection, Thursday, April 13th, 2017, 11:00am to 4:00pm.  This workshop will provide an overview of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology and best practices for data collection. It is designed for participants with little to no experience with drone technology, who are interested exploring practical applications of drones for a variety of data collection interests. The workshop will begin with a lecture on drone technology, and considerations for flight planning and deploying your drone.  We will then go outside for a drone demo, where we will be joined by Green Valley International who specializes in LIDAR drone applications, for some hands-on experience with flying a variety of common quad-copter platforms. To conclude the workshop, we will discuss a wide variety of potential scientific and management oriented applications for drones, and associated mission specific considerations. Click here to register.

Drone Regulations and Data ProcessingFriday, April 14th, 2017, from 10:00am to 3:00pm. This workshop is designed for participants with little to no experience with drone data or GIS software applications. Following a brief lecture on regulations and how to prepare for the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot License test, hands-on exercises will introduce you to the steps you will need to know for processing drone imagery and Lidar data to create your own maps. To conclude the workshop, we will compare the various types of data that can be collected by drones to identify the advantages of each data set for different research and management interests. Click here to register. 

File photo of a previous drone workshop.

Posted on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 10:07 PM

UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) helps students and teachers explore healthy food choices and learn how food is grown.

In March, Kings County has a Farm Day where students and teachers explore healthy food choices, learn how food is grown, interact with farm animals, and build an increased awareness of how agriculture helps our local community and economy. This is achieved by the Kings County Farm Bureau, The Kings County Office of Education and the Kings Fairgrounds partnering to bring the students and presenters together at the Fairgrounds. On March 16, 2017, over 2400 third-graders and 100 teachers and chaperones from 32 schools, as well as presenters for 60 stations attended Farm Day. With the generous donations from The Plant Food People, Greenheart Farms, and awesome volunteers, KARE provided all attendees with short presentations on what it takes to be a healthy plant and what it takes to be a healthy person, followed immediately by workshops where attendees planted leaf lettuce transplants to take home and enjoy.

Fresno County had Farm and Nutrition Day on March 17, 2017, allowing over 4000 third-grade students, teachers, and chaperones from 38 schools experience over 55 interactive presentations at the Big Fresno Fair grounds. Experiential workshops, presentations and displays helped increase participant awareness of agriculture as well as the benefits of making healthy choices. Fresno County Farm Bureau organized the event with the help of several sponsors, volunteers and presenter groups. Again with the generous donations from The Plant Food People, Greenheart Farms, and awesome volunteers, KARE provided all attendees with short presentations on what it takes to be a healthy plant and what it takes to be a healthy person, followed immediately by workshops where attendees planted leaf lettuce transplants to take home and enjoy.

At both events, other UC ANR programs, like 4-H, master gardeners, food and nutrition, small farms advisors, etc., from Kings and Fresno counties also had animals and presentations for the attendees.

Click here to see a Fresno Bee article.

Third grade students at the 2017 Kings County Farm Day transplant leaf lettuce to take home.

Posted on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 3:16 PM

National Poison Prevention Week was March 19-25, 2017.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related death in the United States, and 1073 people in California were poisoned by pesticides in 2014 alone. Each year since 1962, National Poison Prevention Week has taken place during the third week of March, to raise awareness about avoiding these tragedies. No one wants their workers or family members to experience illness or death from pesticide exposure, so the UC IPM Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) would like to bring special attention to preventing pesticide poisoning this week. The program also published a new edition of The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticidesin 2016, which contains a wealth of pesticide safety and hazard prevention information for people who work with pesticides.

Both agricultural and household pesticides can poison people if they are not properly handled. In agriculture, poisoning most often results from pesticide mixing and loading, and the most harm occurs due to spills, splashes and equipment failure. In the home, many pesticide poisoning incidents involve children swallowing pesticides, including garden products, disinfectant cleaners, or other chemicals used to control pests.

One of the most important things you can do to prevent pesticide poisoning is to follow the instructions on the pesticide label. Labels address critical information about how to use a pesticide safely, including the kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) you should wear to prevent overexposure, how much of the product to apply, the minimum time you must wait to enter the area after applying the pesticide (the restricted entry interval), and the minimum time that must pass between application and harvest (preharvest interval).

Labels also include important signal words such as “Danger,” “Warning,” or “Caution” that indicate how acutely toxic the chemical is to humans, as well as directions to avoid pesticide contamination of sensitive areas such as schools and hospitals. These instructions are meant to protect anyone who is at risk of being exposed to hazardous pesticide residues. It is essential to thoroughly read and understand the pesticide label before working with the pesticide, and to carefully comply with label instructions throughout the process. The UC IPM guide to Understanding Pesticide Labels for Making Proper Applications can help you do this, and is available in both English and Spanish.

If you apply pesticides in or around your home, be sure to store them properly and keep them out of the reach of children. Keep in mind that even mothballs may look like candy to very young children. It is illegal and unsafe to store pesticides in food or drink containers, which can easily fool people into consuming them and being poisoned. According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, these mistakes caused 62 incidents of child poisoning from pesticide ingestion in California in 2014, and 47 of those cases involved children under six years of age.

To learn more about poisoning and how to prevent it, consider visiting the following resources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention Leading Causes of Death Reports

California Poison Control

National Poison Prevention Week website

National Pesticide Information Center

UC IPM online course: Proper Pesticide Use to Avoid Illegal Residues


When handling pesticides, always use the personal protective equipment required by the law.

Posted on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 10:49 AM

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

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