Volume 73, Issue 2, 2019
Rangeland recovery after wildfire
Research and Review Articles
California Employment Development Department data suggest that almost 5% of California's workers were employed in agriculture, in 2016. In that year, monthly average employment in agriculture was 425,400, but the number of workers with at least one job in agriculture was 2.3 times that figure, 989,500. The number of hired farmworkers, including supervisors and office personnel, rose almost 20% between 2015 and 2016. Most workers employed in agriculture do not work year-round, so there is a gap between the average earnings of a full-time equivalent job in agriculture ($32,316 in 2016) and the average earnings of actual agricultural workers ($19,800 in 2016). This gap was widest for the third of all farmworkers employed by farm labor contractors (FLCs). Over half of the workers whose maximum earnings were in agriculture had only one farm job. Almost 20% of farmworkers received unemployment insurance benefits in 2016, including half of those whose maximum earnings were in logging and cotton ginning. Public policy has long favored a farm labor market in which most workers are employed year-round; these data indicate that the farm labor market in California is, on average, heading in the opposite direction.
Many farms in northeast California are experimenting with organic production to take advantage of price premiums and niche markets. A common challenge in organic farming is finding dependable nitrogen sources to meet the needs of vegetable and grass crops, especially in fields with low soil nitrogen. This study assessed the use of cover crops and organic amendments for increasing soil nitrogen for potato production at the Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake. Researchers evaluated several cover crop species, three planting dates and multiple cover crop mixes. Amendments included composts, manures, bloodmeal and soymeal. The data collected in the study included total nitrogen from cover crops and amendments, plant-available nitrogen in the soil, potato petiole nitrate and crop yield and quality. Vetches and field peas, managed as green manure, were successful at satisfying potatoes' in-season nitrogen demand. These cover crops, grown alone or in mixes with non-legume species, produced potato crops whose yield and quality were similar to crops grown with conventional fertilizers. The cover crops' influence on potato pest pressure was neutral. Chicken manure was the most cost-effective amendment for satisfying potatoes' in-season nitrogen demand.
Viruses are of great concern in vineyards. They cost the California wine grape industry as much as $91,661 per acre over the life of a vineyard, according to a 2015 economic study of the North Coast wine-growing region. As a first step toward managing viruses, growers are encouraged to plant certified material regulated by the California Grapevine Registration and Certification program. There are risks in sourcing plant material from stocks that are not subject to the same level of regulation. We surveyed vineyards of varying ages for eight common viruses to demonstrate the value of selecting certified material for new plantings.
News and Opinion
A free hay program was started after the Thomas fire, closed highways were opened for ranchers after the Camp fire, and UC research helped answer ranchers' questions about pasture recovery.
The California Tree Mortality Data Collection Network — Enhanced communication and collaboration among scientists and stakeholders
Critical research and dialogue are underway to understand the consequences of the massive wave of tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada.
Through cooperative ventures around the state, the UC Master Gardener program brings horticultural knowledge to Californians in jails, detention centers and treatment facilities.
Through technology demonstration and policy engagement, UC ANR specialists, advisors and AES faculty can support California's ambitions to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.