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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 73, Issue 2, 2019

Rangeland recovery after wildfire

Issue cover
Cover Caption: UC Cooperative Extension research indicates that seeding for forage production may be advantageous on badly burned land. In January 2018, 1,000 acres on this Ventura County ranch were aerially seeded with 10,000 pounds of cereal rye in 1 day. Photo by Monica Karl.

Research and Review Articles

Ratio of farmworkers to farm jobs in California increased to 2.3 in 2016

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.

Cover crops prove effective at increasing soil nitrogen for organic potato production

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.

Virus surveys of commercial vineyards show value of planting certified vines

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

UC ANR advisors support cattle ranchers after wildfires

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.

To build a walled garden

Through cooperative ventures around the state, the UC Master Gardener program brings horticultural knowledge to Californians in jails, detention centers and treatment facilities.

Research highlights

Recent articles from the Agricultural Experiment Station campuses and UC ANR's county offices, institutes and research and extension centers.

UC experts can lead on carbon dioxide removal

Through technology demonstration and policy engagement, UC ANR specialists, advisors and AES faculty can support California's ambitions to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.