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Open Access Publications from the University of California


California Agriculture is a quarterly peer-reviewed journal reporting research, reviews and news on California’s agricultural, natural and human resources.

Volume 76, Issue 4, 2022

Issue cover
Cover Caption:Pollinators throughout the world are experiencing declines due to habitat degradation, pesticide exposure, disease, and climate change. Although pollinators and the services they provide to agriculture are not the primary focus of carbon farming, numerous carbon storage practices, such as the hedgerows shown here, can be adapted to benefit pollinators without diminishing climate outcomes or economic benefits to farmers (see Sardiñas et al.). Photo: Will Suckow.

Research and Review Articles

Carbon farming can enhance pollinator resources

Native California bees and other wild pollinators, which are essential to many fruit and vegetable crops, are being threatened by climate change, pesticides and habitat degradation. Carbon farming, a set of practices that sequester carbon in the soil or woody biomass, can create habitat that supports these pollinators. This paper focuses on habitat management and farming practices that both increase carbon sequestration and benefit pollinator communities. By incentivizing and supporting conservation practices that incorporate carbon farming, we can protect wild pollinators and increase the resilience of California agriculture in the face of ongoing climate change.

4-H Water Wizards: Lessons learned for effective afterschool science programming

The University of California 4-H Youth Development Program created the 4-H Water Wizards project in response to two related issues: the need for high-quality science education programming in afterschool settings, and the desire to foster a citizenry that understands and can make informed decisions about water. In collaboration with afterschool program staff, Sacramento County 4-H implemented the 12-week water education project for children in grades four through six. We evaluated the program over four years (2012–2016) utilizing a pretest-posttest study design and evaluation surveys from participants and program staff. Our findings indicate positive outcomes both for program staff who delivered the project and for the children who participated in the program. Afterschool program staff gained competence in delivering hands-on and inquiry-based science programming. Fourth- and fifth-grade students demonstrated small but significant knowledge gain about water. Students also demonstrated increased awareness about water issues and water conservation behavior. We discuss our findings for both groups and share our insights for promising practices when collaborating with afterschool providers, especially relating to the importance and challenge of science education in afterschool settings.

With sustainable use of local inputs, urban agriculture delivers community benefits beyond food

Urban agriculture is becoming increasingly important in developed countries, especially in terms of its economic and social benefits. If urban gardens are managed according to agroecological principles - involving the efficient and sustainable use of local resources and inputs - there are many environmental benefits to local communities. We studied urban gardens in Berkeley, California, and Madrid, Spain, to see how agroecology is practiced. Communities such as these that utilize good ecological practices in urban gardens obtain a wide range of valuable ecosystem services - the kinds of services provided by healthy ecosystems, including cultural services such as a place to socialize. These communities can serve as model urban agricultural centers which can contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including good health, food security and sustainable cities.

Online training for child care providers teaches child nutrition in English and Spanish

Poor nutrition among young children is a national health crisis which contributes to obesity and chronic disease later in life. Since children spend so much time in child care, child care providers can help improve the quality of young children's nutrition and foster lifelong healthy eating habits. However, California's family child care home (FCCH) providers

receive little training on what and how to feed young children. To address this problem, we developed a self-paced online training on child nutrition in English and Spanish for FCCH providers. Our feasibility study evaluated providers’ satisfaction with the training and ease of use, using an online survey and a 45-minute interview upon completing the training. Providers rated their training experience as excellent, easy to enroll in, and complete. Most providers reported they were somewhat likely to make changes to what and how they feed infants and toddlers. Many recommended adding printed resources and culturally relevant material for future trainings.

Grazing lambs on pastures regrown after wildfires did not significantly alter metal content in meat and wool

Wildfires can drastically change rangeland by depositing ash contaminated with metals that are not part of normal diets. This can pose health threats to humans and animals. This risk, along with alterations of essential minerals in livestock grazing on regrowth on burnt lands, is not well known. To better understand this, our study investigated metal concentrations in water, soil, plant forage, and meat and wool of sheep grazing on the regrowth of burned lands. We compared metal concentrations in sheep grazed on regrowth to stored meat samples from grazing sheep a year prior to the wildfire. Lead, mercury, arsenic, molybdenum, cadmium, beryllium, cobalt and nickel were not detected above reporting limits in meat, wool or water samples. Contamination from chromium and thallium was detected in three of 26 meat samples from sheep grazed on regrowth. These metals were not detected in 22 stored meat samples from sheep the year before. Copper concentrations found in the meat of animals grazing regrowth was lower than in animals grazing unburned pastures; it is important to monitor copper concentrations in grazing animals to avoid diseases associated with copper deficiency.