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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 65, Issue 4, 2011

Stewards of the land: Private owners share views on forest and range resources

Issue cover

Research and Review Articles

Forest and rangeland owners value land for natural amenities and as financial investment

Forty-two percent of California’s forests and rangelands are privately owned (34 million acres). These lands provide important ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, pollination and wildlife habitat, but little is known about the people who own and manage them. We surveyed forest and rangeland owners in California and found that these long-time landowners value their properties for their natural amenities and as a financial investment. Owners of large properties (500 or more acres) were significantly more likely to use their land for income production than owners of smaller properties, and they were also more likely to carry out or be interested in environmental improvements. Many forest and rangeland owners reported they had been previously approached to sell their land for development. Only about one-third had participated in conservation programs; few had conservation easements. This survey can help guide outreach and education efforts, and the development of information, policies, programs and financial incentives for landowners.

Tree shelters and weed control enhance growth and survival of natural blue oak seedlings

Blue oak is regenerating poorly in portions of its range. Techniques to artificially regenerate trees by collecting acorns, growing seedlings in a nursery and then planting them are effective but costly. Improving the growth and survival rate of existing volunteer seedlings in woodlands could be more cost efficient and therefore more widely used. We tested tree shelters and weed control treatments over 3 years at six woodland sites to evaluate whether they helped blue oak seedlings grow into saplings. The tree shelters enhanced height growth, and weed control improved survival. Together, these two techniques can improve the chances for managing blue oak sustainably and conserving this native California oak for future generations.

Hedgerows enhance beneficial insects on farms in California’s Central Valley

Hedgerows of native California shrubs and perennial grasses bordering field crops were examined for the abundance of beneficial and pest insects compared with adjacent weedy areas. During 2 years of sampling in the Sacramento Valley, hedgerows attracted more beneficial than pest insects, while weedy areas showed the opposite trend, attracting significantly more pest than beneficial insects. We conclude that replacing weedy areas at field crop edges with managed hedgerow plantings will sustain or increase beneficial rather than pest insects on farms.

Water sensors with cellular system eliminate tail water drainage in alfalfa irrigation

Alfalfa is the largest consumer of water among all crops in California. It is generally flood-irrigated, so any system that decreases runoff can improve irrigation efficiency and conserve water. To more accurately manage the water flow at the tail (bottom) end of the field in surface-irrigated alfalfa crops, we developed a system that consists of wetting-front sensors, a cellular communication system and a water advance model. This system detects the wetting front, determines its advance rate and generates a cell-phone alert to the irrigator when the water supply needs to be cut off, so that tail water drainage is minimized. To test its feasibility, we conducted field tests during the 2008 and 2009 alfalfa growing seasons. The field experiments successfully validated the methodology, producing zero tail water drainage.

Totally impermeable film retains fumigants, allowing lower application rates in strawberry

The California strawberry industry is highly dependent on soil fumigation to control soil pests and maintain high productivity. Plastic films are used to hold fumigants in the soil at the doses needed to control pests and to prevent the loss of fumigant. Totally impermeable film (TIF) was compared to standard film (STD) for the retention of soil fumigants. 1,3-dichloropropene plus chloropicrin concentrations under TIF were 46% to 54% higher than under standard film, and higher fumigant concentrations under TIF were correlated with higher strawberry fruit yields and better weed control. The results suggest that to achieve fruit yield and weed control similar to methyl bromide and chloropicrin, 33% less 1,3-dichloropropene plus chloropicrin is needed under TIF than standard films.