Veteran CASI Workgroup member Dan Munk along with Jeff Mitchell hosted Sheila Morco of CDFA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for a site visit for the project, Evaluation of Trade-Offs between Winter Cover Crop Production and Soil Water Depletion in San Joaquin Valley Row Crop Fields and Orchards, that a very large team of UC researchers, farmers, and other private sector partners is working on at 7 farms throughout the Central Valley. Morco is the CDFA Grant Analyst who oversees the team's work. In addition, UC Davis Hydrology students, Alyssa DeVincentis, Sloane Rice, and Anna Gomes took part in a televideo conference call portion of the visit and provided nice summaries of the data that they've been working to compile based on the project's monitoring activities. This project is determining the biomass potential for cover crops, changes in soil water storage under these cover crops compared to fallow, and data on the carbon and nitrogen capture potential of cover crops so as to inform farmers of the true tradeoffs associated with this practice. There is considerable uncertainty surrounding cover crop water use and this has been an impediment to their wider adoption. Additional information stemming from this CDFA SCBGP Project will be shared at the upcoming major educational training event that will take place in Five Points on June 6th.
This is a reminder of the complexity of huanglongbing and the bacterial infection it causes. This abstract is from the HLB Conference in Florida last fall.
4.a.5 Symptom variations and molecular markers that illustrate the HLB complexity
Yongping Duan, Marco Pitino, and Cheryl Armstrong
USHRL-ARS-USDA, Fort Pierce, FL 34945, USA
Huanglongbing (HLB) is a devastating bacterial disease of citrus worldwide due to its intracellular and systemic infection. Various HLB symptoms are observed on different species/varieties of citrus plants: from yellow shoots to blotchy mottle on the leaves, from vein yellowing/vein corky to mosaic/green islands similar to zinc deficiency on the leaves, from whitish discoloration to stunted green leaves, etc. These variations of symptoms, which result from a combination of biotic and abiotic stresses, are not only present on individual plants from a variety but also exist on individual branches of an infected plant. Our results indicated that the adaptation of the bacterial populations, such as the dynamics of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' (Las), plays an important role in the induction of various symptoms and that Las mutations as well as the number and recombination events of Las prophages/phages affect this phenomenon. In addition, the selection of the host plants (resistance/tolerance) for the bacterial populations is also critical for symptom expression during disease progression. Based on severity, we divided HLB symptoms into four grades. It is worth noting that the grades of HLB symptom severity show a positive correlation with our newly identified biomarkers from host plants, and that gene expression profiling of different grades of infected leaves rationalized the differentiation based on the dynamics of these biomarkers. Because of these findings, we propose new approaches that allow for rapid selection of variant citrus plants, including bud sports with greater HLB resistance/tolerance.
Non-Technical Summary: Various symptoms of citrus huanglongbing display in different species/varieties of infected citrus plants. These variations of symptoms are not only present on individual plants from a variety, but also exist on individual branches of an infected plant. We have identified some molecular markers from the citrus plants and Las pathogen that illustrate the HLB complexity. Therefore, we propose new approaches that allow for rapid selection of variant citrus plants, including bud sports with greater HLB resistance/tolerance.
Pretty decent article here from the Capitol Press on how growers are struggling with how to make sense of the really large amounts of data so easily available to them in our increasingly technological age.
The fact of the matter is that reduced computing costs have created an enormous wave of information, and in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal written by Michael Milken and Igor Tulchinsky, caution us to buckle up because this already large tsunami of data "doubles in size every few years". The two authors, while conceding that this is a challenge, also recognize it as an opportunity.
As many are finding, the problem of understanding the meaning of lots and lots of data is deeper than just pressing the whole undifferentiated mass into Google and getting an actionable answer. I would suggest it is rather more a matter of sorting out the unimportant data from the important, and then having the mastery of that body of knowledge to which the data refer and only then be able put it all together to arrive at a good decision.
The book titled "The Signal and the Noise", written by statistician Nate Silver makes some progress on this issue. A lot of the data available to decision makers and prognosticators in a wide range of fields, from weather, to markets, to sports events, to elections, and yes to agriculture is not that useful, is not worth listening to and can be called noise, while those bits that are really useful, the signals, are where we should be spending our time and attention.
Complicating this however is the fact that it's very rarely just one signal that merits our attention, but rather it can be a multiple or even further an interaction of these signals which is most meaningful, and yet not all are as equally important. Take for the example the malnourished plant with a compromised root system. Is the malnourishment truly just the roots, or do we also face some deficiencies in the soil? What of the soil pH or CEC which might be impeding the transmission of these nutrients to the plant? The knowledgeable person is going to know what compromises a root system, what soil nutrient deficiencies look like, what a pH of x means to the whole shebang and weighs its value, pieces the important parts together, discards the rest and then makes the call on how to proceed.
In short, it is a deception to think that simply having access to ever greater amounts data effortlessly bestows upon one the ability to make better and more accurate decisions. Really it takes some accomplishment, experience and quite frankly a lot of hard work as an individual to sort out the signals from the noise, and further be able to put this concert of signals into a comprehensible whole.
April 26, 2017 Contact: Pam Kan-Rice, (510) 206-3476, firstname.lastname@example.org Three agriculture...
The extensionist of the 2010's is faced with a multitude of choices concerning where he or she will be most effective in transmitting good information to the clientele he has been assigned. While traditional formats like face to face meetings and on site farm calls still work, others liked mailed newsletters have been set aside in many cases for more timely, content rich and effective media, including vehicles like this blog.
On point, some of us Advisors and Specialists have taken to playing around a bit with Twitter, the microblog site which allows a person to keep others up to date on their own doings without having spend hours crafting an article. Personally, if one's business is to connect with a larger audience, I think Twitter can work.
I don't express myself so well on this point, so I'm including below a (mildly inflammatory) piece by Barry Ritholz, a blogger whom I follow pretty closely concerning the use of social media to connect with people in the professional space. The highlight in the middle is mine:
"For years we heard about people tweeting their every move. If you think this is how Twitter still works, you're probably e-mailing your friends jokes on AOL. Twitter has moved on. The looky-loos have long departed. The self-righteous wannabes tweeting over a hundred thousand times are living in their own tiny silos, in their own echo chambers. That's one of the great things about Twitter, when you see somebody hating on you you can check them out and in almost all cases they have almost no followers and no one sees the hate, so you can relax. This is not the network television of yore, this is one jerk with a megaphone in the middle of the prairie with no impact.
So you've got experts in every field tweeting about their findings, what interests them.
When breaking news occurs a hive emerges with tons of data... if you can't adjust on the fly, you don't deserve to be on Twitter, you need remedial reading classes."
I'll rephrase in less forthright language. Twitter has moved on from being the redoubt of the solipsist and the extremist, as in "hey, look where I am" or "hey, this is what I think" over and over again, to a medium for experts to connect quickly, effectively and share with those who are interested in what they think.
Not all a bad thing.
Whole post is below.