You've heard of the California Bear Flag, the one with the grizzly bear" right? It's lettered...
Entomologist/artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts wearing a red hooded sweatshirt: front view showing the Bohart logo and a tardigrade face. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Back view: Entomologist-artist Charlotte Herbert Alberts shows the Bohart Republic's bear flag, the water bear, that is. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bohart associate Emma Cluff cuddles a tardigrade stuffed animal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
We are now just over halfway through the third term of the Conditional Waiver, adopted in April 2016 and set to expire in April 2021. Each new term builds upon the last, and adds new requirements aimed at improving water quality and advancing progress towards meeting regulatory standards.
While many of the on-farm Best Management Practices (BMPs) have resulted in water quality improvements over the years, nitrate levels in irrigation and stormwater runoff continue to be an issue in many areas, particularly those dominated by row crops or berries.
One of the most significant additions to the current Conditional Waiver is the requirement for growers in Responsibility Areas associated with nitrogen water quality exceedances to develop and implement site-specific Certified Nitrogen Management Plans for their farms. The purpose of these plans is to leverage best available research for crop-specific nitrogen demand, and apply the concepts of the 4Rs: right time, right place, right source, and right rate. The plan itself is a single-page worksheet, completed annually for each farm unit, which guides a grower through calculating total nitrogen needed for each crop. The process also identifies nitrogen contributions from sometimes overlooked sources, such as irrigation water or carryover in soil, and then prescribes an amount of supplemental fertilizer required to meet crop demands.
When implemented effectively, these plans will minimize the over application of nitrogen fertilizers and prevent leeching into groundwater or off-site mobilization of nitrogen in irrigation tailwater and stormwater flows. The research behind crop nitrogen demand continues to grow and evolve, but the primary objective in this early stage of the program is to familiarize growers with the process of developing a nitrogen budget and the available resources specific to their crop.
To ensure that the plan is developed by a qualified individual, the Conditional Waiver requires certification through one of the three mechanisms listed below.
To provide growers with the opportunity to become self-certified, VCAILG has collaborated with CDFA FREP, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), and Fruit Growers Laboratory to develop a local curriculum based on an existing self-certification program developed for growers in California's Central Valley. The training itself includes a 3 1/2 hour workshop focused on the basics of the nitrogen cycle, irrigation and nutrient management, and nitrogen budgeting, followed by a 30 question, multiple-choice exam. VCAILG has offered two of these training workshops to date (Oct. 2, 2018, and Jan. 24, 2019) and will continue over the next few years. The next workshop is tentatively planned for late summer of this year.
Once a grower completes the self-certification training program and passes the exam, he or she needs to complete seven hours of approved continuing education every three years to maintain the certification. The training program itself accounts for four hours of education credit, leaving three additional credit hours required to be completed during the first three-year period. The Conditional Waiver's existing requirement for growers to attend two hours of continuing education per year does still apply, but an approved class or event can be leveraged to meet both requirements, so long as it has a nitrogen focus. Any continuing education courses that qualify for both VCAILG and nitrogen management plan self-certification requirements will be advertised as such.
Some of the most common questions asked by growers relate to whether these requirements apply to them, and if so, by which date they have to be implemented. The current Conditional Waiver specifies that growers located in Responsibility Areas with water quality exceedances of nitrogen standards are required to develop a Nitrogen Management Plan. In addition, a plan is also required in areas where watershed-specific TMDL regulations require implementation as a means to address waterbody impairments. Growers in Responsibility Areas that have neither benchmark exceedances for nitrogen nor TMDL-specific requirements will not be required to develop a plan within the current Conditional Waiver term.
The requirement applies first to growers in the Ventura River Watershed (RAs 18 and 20), with an implementation date of January 2019. This date is based on watershed-specific requirements listed in the Ventura River Algae TMDL, a regulatory plan adopted by the Regional Board to address excessive algae growth in the river by reducing nitrogen loads in runoff. Following this date, the implementation schedule for the remaining Responsibility Areas requiring plans will be phased in according to the degree of water quality benchmark exceedance. Areas with more significant nitrogen impairments will require plans earlier.
The map and table below summarize these dates by Responsibility Area. More detailed maps can be found on VCAILG's Water Quality web page and a list of assigned ResponsibilityArea by Assessor Parcel Number (APN) can be downloaded here.
Finally, it's important to mention again that while the current implementation schedule only applies to specific Responsibility Areas, these requirements are expected to expand to all agricultural operations during the next Conditional Waiver term. This is due to the State Water Resources Control Board's recent issuance of the East San Joaquin River Watershed Waste Discharge Requirements, which included precedential requirements applying to Irrigated Lands Regulatory Programs across the state. These precedential requirements, which include the development of irrigation and nitrogen management plans for all agricultural operations, are the State Board's mechanism for directing the nine regional boards to incorporate these requirements into their next regulatory orders.
While these requirements are already being implemented to some degree in many water board regions, such as the Central Coast, Central Valley, and now Los Angeles regions, the State Board's directive will create statewide consistency throughout the various Irrigated Lands Regulatory Programs. What that means for growers in Ventura County is that we can expect the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board to expand nitrogen management plan requirements to apply to all growers when the Conditional Waiver is next renewed in 2021.
As always, VCAILG will keep growers informed of any new regulatory developments as we get closer to the Conditional Waiver renewal date. For more information about the Nitrogen Management Plan requirement and resources for developing a plan, please visit VCAILG's Water Quality web page.
Nitrogen mamt areas
Identification. Collaboration. Camaraderie. The scientists and butterfly/moth enthusiasts who...
Lepidopterists (from left) Paul Johnson, Jerry Powell and Bill Patterson discuss butterfly species. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis entomology student Gwen Erdosh chats with Bohart associate Greg Kareofelas (left) and Christopher Jason, new UC Davis graduate in environmental science. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Dick Meyer, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, clarifies a butterfly question with hobbyist Jeff Baier of Napa. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Butterfly conversation with (from left) John DeBenedictus, Val Albu, Bill Patterson and Christopher Jason. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Jerry Powell, emeritus director of the Essig Museum of Entomology, examines a specimen under the microscope. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
John Lane (left) and Larry Allen discuss specimens. At far right is Bill Patterson. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Kelly Richers (left) and Jerry Powell are key members of the Northern California Lepidopterists. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Engrossed in conversation are (from left) Max Klepikov, Jim Detla, John DeBenedictis and Jerry Powell. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Rosser Garrison (left) retired from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and co-author of a dragonfly book, talks dragonflies with Greg Kareofelas (center) and Christopher Jason. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Engaged in conversations (from left) Joel Hernandez, Dick Meyer and Christopher Jason, all who received degrees from UC Davis. At far right is Jerry Powell, emeritus director of the Essig Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Author Lawrence "Larry" Allen shows his book to Christina Cunha (far left) of Modesto and her daughter, Madison Cunha, a self-described "aspiring entomologist." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bill Patterson (left), who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, and entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly-moth section at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Don Miller (left), professor at Chico State University and butterfly hobbyist and ecological restorer Jeffrey Caldwell share knowledge. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the Bohart Museum's collection of butterflies and moths, shows morpho butterflies. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Reduced disturbance organic farming group takes part in cover crop workshop at Paicines Ranch, February 7th – 9th, 2019!
February 17, 2019
About fifteen members of the CIG (Conservation Innovation Grant) Project on organic reduced disturbance farming systems took part in a very stimulating three-day workshop on cover cropping that was sponsored by Paicines Ranch February 7th to 9th. The group in attendance consisted of about 100 farmers from all over California and from many other states and countries. CASI members who took part included Scott Park, Kelly Mulville, Patrick O'Neill, Tom Willey, Monte Bottens, Jesse Sanchez, Rich Collins, Paul Muller, Andrew Brait, Daphne Miller, Phil Foster, Jessica Chiartas, Cindy Daley, Lee Altier, Tim LaSalle, Peter Donovan, Cary Crum, Silas Rossow, Seth Rossow, Rosie Burroughs, and Jeff Mitchell. In addition, other CASI associates including Eric Brennan, Jim Leap, and Darryl Wong also took part in the CIG Project's planning meeting on the 7th of February that preceded the cover crop program on the other two days. The workshop was extremely stimulating and provided much for our CASI group to consider and to learn more about. Scott Park was a program presenter along with Green Cover Seed's Keith Berns, Ian and Diane Hagarty of Western Australia, and Christine Jones, also of Australia. Much of the content that was showcased and discussed by program speakers consisted of their experiences and thoughts related to achieving improvements in soil function deriving from specific practices and attention to soil biology. Needless to say, there will be an awful lot for the CIG group to consider in the future related to what they saw and heard in this workshop!
Jessica Chiartas and Tim LaSalle talking about what they’ve heard during the cover crop workshop at Paicines Ranch, February 7th through 9th
CIG team that took part in the project planning discussion at Paicines Ranch on February 7th 2019, ahead of cover crop workshop
Monte Bottens and Jesse Sanchez in Paicines Ranch pasture as part of a field walk during the February 8 and 9 cover crop workshop
Paicines Ranch cover crop workshop participants examining soil health in Paicines Ranch pasture
San Joaquin County UC Cooperative Extension in Stockton maintains pesticide-free roses as one of two trial sites in California for the American Rose Trials for Sustainability, reported Angelina Dequina in the Daily Titan. The other California location is at California State University, Fullerton.
Since 2012, the American Rose Trials for Sustainability has conducted scientific research to determine the best rose cultivation techniques for gardeners in each region of the U.S. The roses in the trial plots are grown with minimal care; the only inputs are water and compost. The San Joaquin County roses are maintained by UC Master Gardeners in the UCCE Learning Landscape, which beautifies the Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center and features a series of small, themed, climate-appropriate gardens.
The Learning Landscape is used for educational Open Garden Days and to teach a variety of workshops for landscape professionals. The public is welcome to stroll the gardens seven days a week during daylight hours. The facility is at 2101 E. Earhart Ave. in Stockton.
Project lead Karrie Reid, UCCE San Joaquin County environmental horticulture advisor, said the rose trials are integral to the marketing of rose cultivars, according to the Daily Titan article.
Once the two-year trial ends, the trial gardens may keep the roses they planted.