Hero Image

UCCE research and extension improves returns for strawberry and vegetable farmers

The Issue

California is a leading producer of strawberries and vegetables in the United States. These crops require a variety of agricultural inputs that include water, fertilizers, insecticides, acaricides, fungicides, and herbicides among others. There is a continuous need for improving current agronomic practices to optimize cost and efficiency and for identifying effective pest management strategies. California is still recovering from a historic drought and efficient irrigation management techniques are necessary to conserve water without affecting crop productivity. Several endemic and invasive pests cause significant yield losses and frequently develop resistance when there is a heavy reliance on chemical pesticides, which is also a concern for environmental and human health. Excessive use of fertilizers, especially nitrogen compounds, contaminate ground water and other waterbodies through leaching. Growers need up-to-date information on crop production and protection practices to farm sustainably and profitably.

What Has ANR Done?

UC ANR Strategic Initiatives thrive to maintain healthy families, communities, and sustainable natural ecosystems as well as emphasize the development of sustainable food production by addressing endemic and invasive pests and ensuring water quality, quantity, and security. Cooperative Extension Advisor, Surendra Dara, who has been looking after the strawberry and vegetable crops issues in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties regularly conducts applied research, organizes extension meetings and field days, and authors a variety of extension articles. His research and extension efforts help strawberry and vegetable growers in his counties and other areas in conserving water, improving nutrient management, promoting non-chemical alternatives for pest and disease management, exploring the potential of biologicals, and improving all other aspects of crop production and protection.

The Payoff

Growers experience more than $2 million savings or additional returns

In a survey conducted between late August 2016 and early May 2018 respondents indicated that research and outreach information by Dara were applied on at least 145,653 planted acres resulting in a minimum yield increase of 16.5% or at least $2,035,610 additional revenues from improved irrigation, nutrient, weed, pest, and disease management practices. Nearly 94% of the respondents reported a change in their behavior to adopt these practices. Among the areas of improvement, 40% were in arthropod pest management and 36.7% were in irrigation management. By developing science-based applied research solutions and extending the information through various outreach activities, UC ANR promotes sustainable food production systems for healthy families and communities.

Clientele Testimonial

"Your work on the impact of miticides on beneficial insects will help strawberry growers to pick the right product and maximize the benefit of IPM strategies. This will help not only growers but also the environment." --Agricultural Industry Representative


Supporting Unit: San Luis Obispo County

Santa Barbara County
Surendra K. Dara, Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor, skdara@ucdavis.edu