ANR Green Blog
Now growing profusely in California forests, on roadsides, and wildlands, brooms:
- Crowd out out desirable vegetation
- Form impenetrable thickets that limit access to some areas
- Shade out tree seedlings, and make reforestation difficult
- Burn readily, increasing the intensity of fire, and carry fire to the tree canopy
- Are toxic to cattle and horses and unpalatable to most wildlife
- Produce abundant, long-lived seed
- Are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen, giving broom a competitive advantage over native plants
Management of these and other weeds are presented in the recently published second edition of Forest and Right-of-Way Pest Control. Invasive species that create a dangerous wildfire hazard and crowd out desirable vegetation and wildlife are examples of why this book emphasizes vegetation management and pesticide handling, including correct equipment calibration and effective herbicide application. The second edition also provides broader coverage of insects, plant pathogens, vertebrate pests, and the various practices to manage them, recognizing that lands commonly have multiple uses and when and how pests are managed depends on many considerations with sometimes conflicting goals.
Experts with Cal-Fire, Caltrans, PG&E, USDA Forest Service, private industry, the University of California (UC) Berkeley and Davis campuses, UC County Cooperative Extension offices, and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) contributed to Forest and Right-of-Way Pest Control, prepared by UC ANR's Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.
Forest and Right-of-Way Pest Control is available for $35 online in the UC ANR Catalog. The table of contents and more information about the book are available on the UC IPM website. You can also preview and electronically search the contents on Google Books.
On Aug. 10, 2013, a wildfire started in a steep canyon on the Tahoe National Forest. When it was finally declared controlled on Oct. 8, the 'American Fire' as it was named, had burned approximately 27,440 acres, including half (1,100 acres) of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP) Last Chance study site.
Initiated more than 7 years ago, SNAMP is a collaboration project involving the University of California, UC Cooperative Extension, the US Forest Service, other state and federal agencies and the public that explores the effects of fuels reduction or thinning projects conducted by the Forest Service on forest health, fire behavior, water quality and quantity, wildlife (California spotted owl and Pacific fisher) and public participation. Scientists are using data collected from treated and untreated areas to model potential impacts of forest management. For example, fire modeling is being done to simulate what could happen in the event of a fire on the landscape. All of the science teams are integrating their results to provide forest managers with information that is relevant at the fireshed scale for future projects.
After the American Fire ignited west of the SNAMP study site, American River Ranger District staff ordered all science teams working in the area to evacuate. They removed several of the water team's wireless nodes that were threatened, along with the stream level monitoring equipment. They covered other equipment with fire blankets and bulldozed a defensive line around a meteorological station to keep the fire out of the immediate area.
Parts of the treated and untreated study areas in the Last Chance project, including completed thinning and prescribed burning units, were burned in the American Fire. Some of this area was intentionally backfired by firefighters to aid in fire management. The vast majority of the treated area burned at low severity with pockets of moderate severity. The decision to backfire through the middle of the Last Chance project was a direct result of the project's location and post-treatment fuel profile.
The final determination of how the vegetation survived the fire will probably not be made for another year since significant mortality can happen much later. There was one active spotted owl nest site on the fire perimeter and it was known to have juvenile owls. The site will be surveyed by the owl team in 2014. As a result of quick action by the US Forest Service, only one of the water team's wireless nodes was damaged by fire.
A new study underway at the UC Sustainable Agriculture and Research and Education Program (SAREP) aims to help growers and policymakers better understand the energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon sequestration potential of orchard systems throughout California.
As trees grow, they draw carbon dioxide from the air to create sugar and cellulose for food and growth, locking some of that carbon into their wood as the trees age — in some trees for 25 years, in others like walnuts, for upwards of 150 years. Proper use of that carbon at the end of an orchard's life can have major implications for the overall greenhouse gas footprint of an orchard operation. Trees used for power generation after orchard removal have the potential to offset fossil-fuel related emissions created throughout the orchard's life.
"Our preliminary study in almonds shows that the amount of fossil fuel emissions saved in this way is equal to almost three-quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions generated during the whole 25-year lifespan of the orchard, using current practices," says the project's director, Sonja Brodt, SAREP academic coordinator. "We think that this information could help to position orchard crops favorably for a consumer base that is increasingly climate-smart."
This study, funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Specialty Crops Block Grant Program, will focus on prunes, peaches, walnuts and almonds in all of the primary production regions of the state.
Many farm management practices have an energy use component that the project will consider including water and fertilizer use, tractor use and post-harvest transportation. By understanding which parts of orchard operations use the most energy as well as how much energy is required to manufacture and distribute inputs before they even arrive at the farm, growers can increase the efficiency of their practices. Industry groups can also develop more scientifically-sound grower sustainability programs to improve energy efficiency more broadly for the state's many tree crop growers.
"Energy is one input into agriculture that we have not thought about much from a whole supply chain point of view," says Gabriele Ludwig of the Almond Board of California, which funded a preliminary study on energy use and emissions in almond production and handling. "Yet the costs of energy, especially from fossil fuel sources, keep going up. The life cycle assessment approach used in this project can provide an analysis of where increased efficiencies may be possible."
The project's collaborators include the UC Cooperative Extension's Sutter-Yuba office, the UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, the Department of Plant Sciences, and graduate students in Horticulture and Agronomy and International Agricultural Development.
By working with growers throughout the state, project staff will be able to ensure that orchard management practices included in the project's models are representative of current practices. Growers interested in providing confidential input about their orchard practices are invited to contact Brodt at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 754-8547.
Scientists from 25 countries will gather on the Monterey Peninsula to discuss “Plants and the Changing Environment” in June. The 9th Air Pollution and Global Change Symposium will be held June 8-12 at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove.
The goal of the series is to consider interactions of air pollution and global change and their impacts on vegetation.
“The symposium is unique in dealing with effects at all levels from molecular and cellular mechanisms, whole plant and crop impacts, all the way up to models of ecosystem and regional impacts,” said David A. Grantz, UC Cooperative Extension specialist based in the Department of Botany & Plant Sciences at UC Riverside.
The symposia are held every few years in different countries, the last in Groningen, The Netherlands, in 2011. The event in California is being organized by Grantz and Kent O. Burkey, USDA/ARS plant physiologist and North Carolina State University professor of crop science and botany in Raleigh.
UC scientists and students engaged in research on the interactions of plant function, metabolism and communities with environmental pollution and global change are encouraged to attend.
“This is an important opportunity for U.S. scientists because the last time this symposium was held in the U.S. was in 1992,” said Grantz. “This is a great chance to catch up on the physiological ecology and modeling efforts underway in Europe and Asia.”
The confirmed keynote speakers include
- Dennis Baldocchi, University of California, Berkeley, USA
- Lisa Emberson, Stockholm Environment Institute and University of York, U.K.
- Lisa Ainsworth, USDA/ARS and University of Illinois, USA
- Koike Takayoshi, Hokkaido University, Japan
- Harry Harmens, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Environment Centre Wales, U.K.
- Allen Lefohn, ASL and Associates, USA
- Atul Jain, University of Illinois, USA
- Rainer Matyssek, Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany
The deadline for abstracts, registration and lodging is March 31. The agenda, registration and housing information can be found at WWW.APGC.EU.
Valentine's Day is one of the most demanding holidays in the cut-flower industry. Consumers struck by Cupid's arrow spend more than $1.9 billion on cut flowers alone. To prepare for the enormous demand for roses, growers produce an estimated 233 million roses, according to an About Flowers research study.
California Growers Making Changes
While many consumers are thinking about love – few are thinking about the impact the cut-flower industry is making on the environment. Since 1990, California has required the agricultural industry to report on all pesticide use, this includes detailed pesticide reporting for the cut flower industry.
Research shows pesticide use in California cut-flower production declined by almost 50 percent from 2001 to 2010. According to a recent UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) article, there are many reasons for the reduction including increased rules and regulations, early pest infestations practices, a new generation of organic growers and increased public awareness.
California cut-flower farmers have vastly improved their pesticide use and policies over the past decade. The state currently produces 60 percent of roses sold in the U.S. each year, but growers simply can't keep up with the Valentine's Day surge in demand during the cold winter months when production slows. These factors contribute to a vast majority of the roses sold in February being imported from Columbia and Ecuador.
Impact of Imported
In a typical year, between 85 percent and 95 percent of the most common fresh cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from Colombia or Ecuador, according to an article in One Green Planet. With fewer restrictions on pesticides in South America, the environmental impact of growing roses in these countries can be devastating.
“To cultivate that perfect rose, growers often resort to chemical weed and insect killers,” Alejandro Boada of Universidad Externado de Colombia states in an article in Organic Bouquet. “Pesticides have been found 300 to 400 meters deep in the soils, which have been unable to filter these poisons. Meanwhile, demand for water has also been found to strain local aquifers, on which other farms depend.”
Not only does aggressive pesticide use in these countries have a destructive environmental impact, their fragile imported roses often have to fly thousands of miles to wholesale warehouses and transported in energy-guzzling refrigerated trucks before reaching the flower shop cooler.
Alternatives for Your Valentine
Don't worry, there are plenty of romantic alternatives with a smaller carbon footprint for your Valentine this year!
- Give a native plant. Native plants thrive in your local environment and provide food for pollinators like bees and butterflies.
- Find a local flower grower in your town using The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers online U.S. database. Not only are you supporting a small often-times family-based farm, you are investing money back into your local economy.
- Connect with fresh, beautiful, organically raised flowers using an online database from Local Harvest.
- For a food-lover, potted herbs make a great gift.
- Gardeners love collections of seed packets for a bountiful summer harvest garden.
Learn about growing roses for your Valentine in your own garden by joining the UC Master Garden Program in your area.