The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) announces more than $1.5 million in grant funds are being awarded to agricultural organizations and universities as a result of the FREP Grant Program 2019 grant cycle.
These grants will fund seven research projects to improve the efficiency of nitrogen (N) fertilization in California agriculture, reduce the associated environmental impacts, and advance farmers’ understanding and implementation of best management practices (BMPs) for fertilizer application in farmlands.
Funded Research Projects:
1. Developing a Nitrogen Mineralization Model for Organically Managed Vegetable Farms on the Central Coast – Joji Muramoto, University of California Cooperative Extension.
This project will create a database of organic fertilizers and amendments, crop residues and soil organic matter, cataloguing the rates at which N becomes available as these materials decompose. The principal investigators (PIs) will use this information to develop an N mineralization model for organic vegetable production in coastal California that can be integrated into CropManage, a decision-making tool for irrigation and nutrient management.
2. Immobilization of Nitrate in Winter-Fallow Vegetable Production Beds to Reduce Nitrate Leaching – Richard Smith, University of California Cooperative Extension.
To enhance the process of immobilization during the winter-fallow period in vegetable production beds, this project will study the application of green waste materials that can sequester residual soil nitrate and reducing leaching. This green waste application should stimulate soil microbial activity to keep excess N in the surface layers of soil.
3. Next Generation Nitrogen Management Training for Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) – Doug Parker, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR).
The goal of this training program is to communicate best N management practices and increase the ability of CCAs to make informed recommendations to growers, thereby improving both environmental quality and crop productivity. This project will develop exam and study materials as well as a video series for the next evolution of the UCANR/FREP CCA Training program.
4. Irrigation and Nitrogen Management, Monitoring and Assessment to Improve Nut Production while Minimizing Nitrate Leaching to Groundwater – Thomas Harter, University of California, Davis.
The efficacy of high-frequency-low-concentration (HFLC) fertilization will be demonstrated in this project under real world conditions as an economically and environmentally promising practice. This work will also compare three water quality monitoring approaches for regulatory compliance.
5. Developing Nutrient Budget and Nutrient Demand Model for Nitrogen Management in Cherry – Patrick Brown, University of California, Davis.
This project will develop nutrient demand curves to guide the quantity and timing of fertilizer application in cherry. Through this work the PIs will develop and extend nutrient BMPs for cherry cultivars.
6. Promoting the Adoption of CropManage to Optimize Nitrogen and Irrigation Use through Low-Cost Data Loggers and Cellular Modems for Spanish-Speaking Growers in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties – Gerry Spinelli, Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County.
The focus of this project is the development of affordable data loggers. These data acquisition devices will be designed to work with the CropManage tool. The PIs will also work closely with growers to increase the adoption of CropManage usage in the Central Coast.
7. Achieving Efficient Nitrogen Fertilizer Management in California Wheat – Mark Lundy, University of California, Davis.
This project will demonstrate best N management practices in California wheat on field-scale plots in combination with site-specific measurements of the soil, plant and canopy to guide real-time N management decisions. The PIs will provide customized decision-support information produced by a dynamic web-based tool and California-specific models.
Since 1990, FREP has granted more than $20 million through 240 projects focusing on efficient fertilizer use and the protection of California’s environment. A database of research projects is publicly available at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/FREPresearch. The FREP Grant Program is currently accepting proposals for the 2020 grant cycle through January 31. Visit http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep/CompetitiveGrantProgram.html to learn more.