Farmer Cooperators Wanted

UC Berkeley researchers need farmers for a study on diversified farming systems in California’s Central Coast.

The project will look at how agricultural practices on organic farms affect the diversity of life found on those farms, with an emphasis on birds and pollinators. The study needs farmer participants who grow organic strawberries on two acres or more of land in Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Prunedale and Salinas.

Benefits of cooperating on the project include: 

  • Access to research results about your own farm and all participating farms collectively (with complete anonymity) that can inform your management decisions;
  • Financial compensation at market value for any strawberry losses associated with your participation;
  • Networking with other participants;
  • Consultation with researchers during and after the study.

Participation involves an initial meeting in person or over the phone to discuss the project; allowing access to the farm at sunrise on two days of the sampling week for bird surveys; walking the entire farm once to measure vegetative diversity; and two days of soil sampling for quality analysis and greenhouse gas emission levels. These samples will be taken over the course of one week.

Researchers will also need access to the strawberry blocks to take measurements about 20 days later for 2-3 days between summer and fall 2015-2016. Some surveys require the bagging and collection of 3 berries on 30 plants per field site. These marked berries will be checked frequently near maturation to ensure they are picked before becoming overripe.

Growers are welcome to be present during the field work, but are not required. The research team will make every effort to arrange sampling times that are convenient for you.

Lead researcher Claire Kremen has studied pollinator populations on organic farms for many years. She was a co-author on a study published in December 2014, “Diversification practices reduce organic to conventional yield gap,” the most rigorous meta-analysis of yield data published to date, which also shows that multi-cropping and crop rotations reduce the yield gap significantly. For more information and to sign up as a cooperator, contact Amber Sciligo, Postdoctoral Researcher, at cell phone (530) 521-4926 and email amber.sciligo@berkeley.edu. Please respond by May 1, 2015.

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