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Hear That Buzz at the Solano County Fair?

Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall at the Solano County Fair, holds a bee-themed quilt with assistant Jarod Fernander of Vallejo, 15, a student at the Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy. The quilt is the work of Tina Frothy of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hear that buzz? Honey bees own the flower beds at the Solano County Fair, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo. But bees and other insects claim the exhibit halls, as well. They're depicted on everything from quilts and photos to graphic arts displayed in...

Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall at the Solano County Fair, holds a bee-themed quilt with assistant Jarod Fernander of Vallejo, 15, a student at the Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy. The quilt is the work of Tina Frothy of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall at the Solano County Fair, holds a bee-themed quilt with assistant Jarod Fernander of Vallejo, 15, a student at the Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy. The quilt is the work of Tina Frothy of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall at the Solano County Fair, holds a bee-themed quilt with assistant Jarod Fernander of Vallejo, 15, a student at the Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy. The quilt is the work of Tina Frothy of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Insects, we have insects! Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall and assistant Jarod Fernander show some of the insect-themed entries. The butterfly is a Blue Xlipper, Parthenos sylvia ssp. lilacinus, from southeast Asia, as  identified by Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology. In the background are entries ready to be judged or displayed. The fair runs June 27-30. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Insects, we have insects! Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall and assistant Jarod Fernander show some of the insect-themed entries. The butterfly is a Blue Xlipper, Parthenos sylvia ssp. lilacinus, from southeast Asia, as identified by Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology. In the background are entries ready to be judged or displayed. The fair runs June 27-30. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Insects, we have insects! Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall and assistant Jarod Fernander show some of the insect-themed entries. The butterfly is a Blue Xlipper, Parthenos sylvia ssp. lilacinus, from southeast Asia, as identified by Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology. In the background are entries ready to be judged or displayed. The fair runs June 27-30. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This pencil sketch of a moth is by Alana Boman of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, who entered it in 4-H youth graphics arts, ages 5 to 8, in McCormack Hall, Solano County Fair. The fair runs June 27-June 30. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This pencil sketch of a moth is by Alana Boman of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, who entered it in 4-H youth graphics arts, ages 5 to 8, in McCormack Hall, Solano County Fair. The fair runs June 27-June 30. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This pencil sketch of a moth is by Alana Boman of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, who entered it in 4-H youth graphics arts, ages 5 to 8, in McCormack Hall, Solano County Fair. The fair runs June 27-June 30. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Madeline Giron of Benicia entered this drawing of a bee in youth graphics arts, ages 14 and over, in McCormack Hall,Solano County Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Madeline Giron of Benicia entered this drawing of a bee in youth graphics arts, ages 14 and over, in McCormack Hall,Solano County Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Madeline Giron of Benicia entered this drawing of a bee in youth graphics arts, ages 14 and over, in McCormack Hall,Solano County Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

What's for Dinner? How About a Green Bottle Fly?

A crab spider dines on a green bottle fly in a lavender patch in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

What's for dinner? A crab spider, camouflaged in our lavender patch, didn't catch a honey bee, a butterfly, an ant or a syrphid fly. No, it nailed a green bottle fly. We couldn't help but notice. The fly's metallic blue-green coloring stood in sharp...

A crab spider dines on a green bottle fly in a lavender patch in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A crab spider dines on a green bottle fly in a lavender patch in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A crab spider dines on a green bottle fly in a lavender patch in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The crab spider is camouflaged, but its prey, a green bottle fly with its familiar metallic blue-green coloring, isn't. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The crab spider is camouflaged, but its prey, a green bottle fly with its familiar metallic blue-green coloring, isn't. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The crab spider is camouflaged, but its prey, a green bottle fly with its familiar metallic blue-green coloring, isn't. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 4:53 PM

The cover cropped-field is the 'real disruptor'

KQED reporter Mark Schapiro discovered a "center of insurrection" at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points, where UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell has been building soil on a research plot for 20 years.

Schapiro's story was part of a series titled "Reckoning in the Central Valley," a collaboration between Bay Nature magazine and KQED Science examining how climate change is exposing the vulnerabilities of California agriculture.

In the Central Valley, climate change is disrupting the predictability that is key to maintaining a profitable industrial agriculture system. Mitchell believes that employing practices that build soil - such as reducing or eliminating tillage and planting cover crops - will help farmers ride the wave of climate change.

It's that cover-cropped field “that is the real disruptor here," Mitchell said.

The soil in test plots where cover crops were grown are loaded with far more organic matter than soil in fields where cover crops were not grown. The organic matter improves water absorption, making the land more resilient to drier conditions. Fields with cover crops also sequester carbon and produce crops that may be more nutritious.

“What you see in Five Points,” said Daphne Miller, a physician who studies the links between the health of the foods we eat and the soil in which they're grown, “is that the plots with the greatest diversity of cover crops had the most diverse microbiome in the soil.”

UCCE cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell is working on building soil in the San Joaquin Valley.
 
In a sister article in Bay Nature, Mitchell talked about a newly emerging term for conservation agriculture - "regenerative agriculture." The low- or no-till and cover crop system is thought to regenerate rather than deplete the soil. In addition to the other benefits, healthy soil will save water, since it reduces water evaporation levels by 4 to 5 inches annually, Mitchell said. If widely adopted, these practices could reduce water use throughout the valley by millions of acre-feet per year.

 
 
 
 
Posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:32 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Environment

Lovin' the Lavender

The six-acre lavender fields on the Araceli Farms, on the outskirts of Dixon, glow during the Lavender Festival. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Lovin' the lavender... If you attended the Lavender Festival last weekend at the six-acre Araceli Farms at 7389 Pitt School Road, Dixon, you were in for a real treat. Planted in April 2017, the fields glowed with seven varieties of lavender: Grosso,...

The six-acre lavender fields on the Araceli Farms, on the outskirts of Dixon, glow during the Lavender Festival. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The six-acre lavender fields on the Araceli Farms, on the outskirts of Dixon, glow during the Lavender Festival. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The six-acre lavender fields on the Araceli Farms, on the outskirts of Dixon, glow during the Lavender Festival. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Araceli Farms are planted with seven varieties of lavender: seven varieties of lavender: Grosso, Provence, White Spike, Royal Velvet, Violet Intrigue, Folgate, and Melissa. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Araceli Farms are planted with seven varieties of lavender: seven varieties of lavender: Grosso, Provence, White Spike, Royal Velvet, Violet Intrigue, Folgate, and Melissa. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Araceli Farms are planted with seven varieties of lavender: seven varieties of lavender: Grosso, Provence, White Spike, Royal Velvet, Violet Intrigue, Folgate, and Melissa. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Cordovan honey bee, the color of pure gold, takes flight through the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Cordovan honey bee, the color of pure gold, takes flight through the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Cordovan honey bee, the color of pure gold, takes flight through the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Clay's Bees--Clay Ford, owner of the Pleasants Valley Honey Company, Vacaville--pollinate the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Clay's Bees--Clay Ford, owner of the Pleasants Valley Honey Company, Vacaville--pollinate the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Clay's Bees--Clay Ford, owner of the Pleasants Valley Honey Company, Vacaville--pollinate the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)in the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)in the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A variegated meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)in the lavender fields. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Western pondhawk (Erythemis collocate) rests on a lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Western pondhawk (Erythemis collocate) rests on a lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Western pondhawk (Erythemis collocate) rests on a lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) flutters around the lavender fields of the Araceli Farms in Dixon on June 22. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) flutters around the lavender fields of the Araceli Farms in Dixon on June 22. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) flutters around the lavender fields of the Araceli Farms in Dixon on June 22. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Maria Gonzalez of Dixon cuts lavender on the Araceli Farms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Maria Gonzalez of Dixon cuts lavender on the Araceli Farms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Maria Gonzalez of Dixon cuts lavender on the Araceli Farms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of the curved knife, perfect for lavender harvesting. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the curved knife, perfect for lavender harvesting. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of the curved knife, perfect for lavender harvesting. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Visitors at the Lavender Festival at Araceli Farms stroll through the vendor area. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Visitors at the Lavender Festival at Araceli Farms stroll through the vendor area. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Visitors at the Lavender Festival at Araceli Farms stroll through the vendor area. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Third Graders Learn About Pollinators

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program, explains the life cycle of bees to a group of third graders from Amador County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

(June 17-23 is National Pollinator Week.) "How many species of bees are there in the world?" asks Wendy Mather, program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), as she greets a group of third graders at the Häagen-Dazs Honey...

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program, explains the life cycle of bees to a group of third graders from Amador County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program, explains the life cycle of bees to a group of third graders from Amador County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program explains the life cycle of bees to a group of third graders from Amador County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the third graders how to use a bee vacuum in a catch-and-release activity.  (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the third graders how to use a bee vacuum in a catch-and-release activity. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the third graders how to use a bee vacuum in a catch-and-release activity. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

I can see the bee! There it is! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
I can see the bee! There it is! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

I can see the bee! There it is! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

What kind of butterfly is this? The answer: Monarch! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What kind of butterfly is this? The answer: Monarch! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

What kind of butterfly is this? The answer: Monarch! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather, program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), tells the students she hopes to see them study entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wendy Mather, program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), tells the students she hopes to see them study entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather, program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), tells the students she hopes to see them study entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Volunteer Julia Wentzel introduced the concept of
Volunteer Julia Wentzel introduced the concept of "pollinator specialists" and engaged the students in creating a "pollinator." They then transferred "pollen" to different shaped flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Volunteer Julia Wentzel introduced the concept of "pollinator specialists" and engaged the students in creating a "pollinator." They then transferred "pollen" to different shaped flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Volunteer Robin Lowry, who managed the “Planting for Pollinators” and “Be a Beekeeper” station, displays a frame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Volunteer Robin Lowry, who managed the “Planting for Pollinators” and “Be a Beekeeper” station, displays a frame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Volunteer Robin Lowry, who managed the “Planting for Pollinators” and “Be a Beekeeper” station, displays a frame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Students placed
Students placed "pollinators" inside flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Students placed "pollinators" inside flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Time to take a photo! Don't say
Time to take a photo! Don't say "cheese!" Say "honey!" (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Time to take a photo! Don't say "cheese!" Say "honey!" (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Matthew Hoepfinger, staff research associate in the E. L. Niño lab,  presented the live bee demonstration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Matthew Hoepfinger, staff research associate in the E. L. Niño lab, presented the live bee demonstration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Matthew Hoepfinger, staff research associate in the E. L. Niño lab, presented the live bee demonstration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hey, I'm a bee! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hey, I'm a bee! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hey, I'm a bee! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A little beekeeper shapes a heart. Students took turns trying on the beekeeper protective suits. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A little beekeeper shapes a heart. Students took turns trying on the beekeeper protective suits. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A little beekeeper shapes a heart. Students took turns trying on the beekeeper protective suits. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

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