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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 61, Issue 4, 2007

Issue cover


Management reduces E. coli in irrigated pasture runoff

Microbial pollutants, some of which can cause illnesses in humans, chronically contaminate many California water bodies. Among numerous sources, runoff from irrigated pastures has been identified as an important regulatory target for improving water quality. This study examined the potential to reduce E. coli contamination from cattle in irrigated pastures. During the 14 irrigation events examined, we found that E. coli concentrations were lowest with a combination of three treatments: filtering runoff through a natural wetland, reducing runoff rates, and letting the pasture rest from grazing at least a week prior to irrigation. Integrated pasture and tailwater management are required to significantly reduce E. coli concentrations in runoff.

Juniper removal may not increase overall Klamath River Basin water yields

Based on published research and watershed assessment techniques, we evaluated the feasibility of augmenting water yields in the Klamath River and its major tributaries by removing western juniper, which has expanded dramatically within the Klamath River Basin over the past 130 years. The results suggest that the conversion of western juniper woodlands to shrublands or grasslands would not substantially increase water yields for the Basin as a whole. However, researchers should further examine the potential for juniper management to increase both summer flow rates in small tributaries and spring flows that support small wetlands across the upper Basin; other possible benefits could include restoring wildlife in sagebrush-rangeland habitat, reducing wildfire risks and increasing the land available for livestock grazing.

Most West Coast agricultural cooperatives are financially competitive

Agricultural producers and lenders have expressed concerns about the highly publicized financial difficulties experienced by some agricultural cooperatives. This study analyzes the comparative financial performance of cooperatives and investor-owned firms in four sectors: fruits and vegetables, dairy, farm supply and grain. Standard financial ratios measuring profitability, liquidity, leverage and asset efficiency were analyzed for 1991 through 2002. The overall financial performance of cooperatives on the West Coast was on par with that of similar investor-owned firms.

California farmers adapt mandated marketing programs to the 21st century

Mandated marketing programs are an important component of California agriculture. The state’s 63 marketing programs cover commodities that accounted for two-thirds of the total value of California agricultural output in 2004. California farmers have recently paid annual assessments totaling more than $226 million to support advertising, promotion, research and inspection programs. Marketing programs have evolved from emphasizing supply controls in the 1930s and 1940s to the current focus on generic advertising and promotion, food safety inspection, health and nutrition research, and market information.