About the Cooperative Extension Department
The purpose of the Cooperative Extension Department, which operates under an agreement between the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and the County, is to help people access appropriate research based information to help them reach their life goals. This is accomplished through conducting applied research, educational programs, and outreach activities.
During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, three UCCE advisors (Tree crops, vegetable crops and 4H/Youth Development) and two program representatives (4H and Nutrition Education) were based in the Colusa office supported by three Colusa County employees. Additionally, UCCE advisors based in neighboring counties worked in Colusa County in the areas of livestock, range, and natural resources; rice production, irrigation and water resources and agronomic crops.
Research projects in vegetable crops, rice, and orchards (almond, walnuts and prune) were conducted to support the local economy and protect air and water resources. Extension programs were delivered locally (as much as was permitted under pandemic regulations) to support the same objectives.
Significant Accomplishments for Fiscal Year 2020-21:
This was a year like no other in my memory. Virtually all UC extension programs were limited to internet delivery between late March, 2020 and spring, 2021.
Paper and internet based newsletter delivery continued, along with blogs and other internet posts including a YouTube channel on Soil Health started by UCCE agronomy advisor, Sarah Light, and Liz Harper from Colusa County Resource Conservation District. UCCE advisors continued to regularly contribute interview comments as well as full articles to ag industry publications (trade journals) such as West Coast Nut Grower, Progressive Crop Consultant, Ag Alert, and others. These journals are read by Colusa County growers and pest control advisors.
Field research continued as before the pandemic. No valuable time or data were lost.
Field trials located in Colusa County in the past year included:
- Variety trial comparing established and new varieties.
- Weedy rice overwintering trial
- Comparing automatic weeders in tomatoes to reduce grower costs
- Disease (southern blight) forecasting trial
- Compost trials established for 2021
- Cover crop variety trial (2020 and 2021)
- Influence of cover crops on soil moisture (2020 and 2021)
4· Tree crops (at Nickels Soil Lab, Arbuckle)
- Orchard growth and almond yield comparison in a replant site where the old orchard is chipped and mixed back into the soil vs no chips.
- Almond tree density (115, 130, 148 or 173 trees/acre) influence on long-term orchard production and health.
5. The 4H and Nutrition Education programs were mostly internet-based delivery through most of the 2020-2021 program year. Highlights included:
- A virtual showcase for youth members showing still images on-line allowed the youth to exhibit the results of their hard work despite the loss of an in-person Fair in 2020.
- A virtual Presentation Day in winter, 2021.
- On-line Leadership Program allows youth to hear from various guest speakers.
- Switched from in-person gardening programs to on-line videos (70!) related to gardening, posted on their Facebook page.
- In addition to the monthly newsletter, which reaches over 700 people and weekly articles in the Williams Pioneer Review, the UC MG program of Colusa started a monthly podcast with the same paper (Williams Pioneer Review).
- Finally, in cooperation with the Colusa County Office of Education demonstration garden at the Education Village in Williams has begun. The demonstration garden provides a site for public education programs on drip irrigation, vegetable and ornamental plantings. There have been 2 workshops at the site so far.
Thank you for reading this far. I am proud of the effort from everyone in our office over the past year.
Goals & Objectives for Fiscal Year 2021-22:
- Continue to extend research-based information to County clientele by providing educational opportunities in the areas of agriculture, youth development, gardening and nutrition.
Increase the visibility of the Cooperative Extension Department among the other County Departments, organizations and agencies by improving relationships and participating in events relating to the Department's mission. Our office will continue the press release program to alert the community to programs and/or newsletters put on and out by our Department
Implement strategies to increase diversity of youth and volunteers served by the 4H program.
Explore partnership opportunities with schools and communities to provide additional landscaping (trees in particular) with the objectives of improving student and staff well-being.
Offer development opportunities to staff to ensure proper support of academic programs that address the needs of the local community.
Summary of Major Budget Changes: None