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A Message from the Dean - May 2018

May 29, 2018 Helene Dillard
Field days help farmers plan for the future

Farmers and crop advisers learned how to control alfalfa weevils and so much more at Alfalfa Field Day at UC Davis.
Field days for California growers are a tradition going back to the very beginning of the University of California. They have stood the test of time because they are an extremely effective method of showing the agricultural community the latest innovations in plant and animal production.

Attendees at field days typically include growers, ranchers, commercial advisers, UC researchers from campus and county offices, and others with an interest in applied university research with immediate application. Two good examples are Beef Field Day and the Alfalfa and Small Grains Field Day held at our research fields on May 17.

Some of the topics at the Alfalfa and Small Grains Field Day included releases of new wheat varieties, improvements in oats and malting barley, the importance of owls and birds in alfalfa pest management, estimating nutrient requirements, and strategies for reducing mice damage in drip irrigation systems.

First time field day participant Kim Gallagher was particularly interested in hearing about variety trial developments in drought tolerance and nitrogen management. “Seeing all this new research helps us plan our farming into the future,” she told our communications staff.

Meanwhile, farmers, ranchers and others were gathered across campus for Beef Field Day. A wide range of topics included fence design and installation, use of cattle to manage native grasslands and ways to supplement protein and energy on the range.  The event ended with a silent auction of UC-raised heifers.

A big event coming up on June 11 is a field day at the UC Davis Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, which has been held annually since 1994. This year’s focus is on increasing farm resilience through water and fertility management and on soil health and biology. Sometimes we take the show on the road, as is the case June 6 in Salinas for a Strawberry Field Day. Attendees will see the latest developments in strawberry breeding, production and pest management.

California has the largest, most diverse agricultural output of any state in the nation. The value of this production to our farms and ranches was $46 billion, according to the most recent agricultural statistics. Agricultural research at UC Davis is an indispensable part of that success.

We are committed, as we always have been, to bringing advances in university research to those who produce our food and fiber. It is an essential component of our land grant mission at the University of California: to teach students, conduct research to benefit society and to extend that knowledge to the public. It’s a system that has worked well for more than a century.

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