- Author: Janet L. White
Although 10 years have passed since the first regulatory approval of genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant rice, no transgenic rice is grown commercially, either in California or nationwide.
In contrast, genetically modified crops such as soy, corn and cotton have received widespread adoption by U.S. farmers.
Debate continues over whether genetically modified rice would be a plus or minus for the environment. While herbicide-tolerant varieties could reduce herbicide applications overall — they could also contribute to herbicide resistance in weedy rice.
For the time being, however, market considerations have trumped the debate over environmental costs and benefits.
- Author: Rachael Freeman Long
Hedgerows are rows of trees, shrubs, forbs and grasses that surround farm fields. They may be remnants of existing vegetation from cleared lands, a result of natural plant dispersal, or established via direct plantings.
They’ve been in existence for thousands of years with many benefits including serving as wind breaks, helping to reduce soil erosion, and providing habitat for wildlife. All of this helps protect our water and air quality as well as enhances biodiversity.
More recently, studies have shown that hedgerows of California native flowering shrubs planted on field crop edges can enhance beneficial insect activity on farms, possibly leading to biological pest control in adjacent crops. This valuable ecosystem...
- Author: Brenda Dawson
While the legality of California’s medical marijuana dispensaries is being debated in courtrooms, a UC Cooperative Extension forestry and wildlands ecology advisor says there are a number of issues related to the unregulated land-use practices of illicit cannabis growing that have not been addressed.
“As a forest ecologist, I spend a lot of time outdoors, and I talk to thousands of people every year about forest-related subject matter,” says Greg Giusti. “And you can’t talk to anybody today on the North Coast without the topic of cannabis growing and cannabis impacts on land coming up.”
In Lake and Mendocino counties, Giusti performs research and shares...
- Author: Rebecca Miller-Cripps
Weeds, weeds, weeds! Have you noticed? This has been a banner year for weeds. Puncturevine where I’ve never seen it before. Garden soil covered with common purslane (at least it’s good in salads). And solid stands of yellow starthistle everywhere!
Our cool late spring and repeated late rains created multiple germination periods; weed seeds in the soil had many opportunities to sprout. And sprout they did! With the heat of summer, weeds flowered and became noticeable. Now, weeds have set seed and...
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
“Water is the driver of nature.” - Leonardo da Vinci
California’s vast dry rangelands are dotted with water troughs ideal for quenching cattle’s thirst. But in most cases, the troughs’ designs are a torment to wildlife drawn for a drink.
Monterey County rancher George Work observed how traditional water troughs frustrated the wildlife on his family’s 12,000-acre cattle ranch. Small birds couldn’t reach water two or three inches below the top edge. Coyotes, bobcats and cottontails weren’t tall enough to reach over the rim. Work set to making a water trough that would meet the needs of all animals on the range – from cattle, hunting dogs and horses to deer and rabbits.
While raising cattle remains...