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Agriculture

California Department of Pesticide Regulation Facebook page

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has officially adopted new regulations on the use of pesticides near schools and daycare centers. The new rules go into effect in January and prohibit application on crops that are within a quarter mile of schools and daycare centers, Monday through Friday between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

One of the most widely used insecticides in America is the subject of a regulatory battle. Earlier this year the Trump administration chose not to move ahead with efforts to ban chlorpyrifos, first put in place by the Obama administration.  Now, California is in the process of tightening its own regulations of the insecticide, and that has some farmers searching for answers.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers are relying more and more on technology to help them manage their crops and often that means working with unmanned aerial systems. Using drones to make two dimensional maps of orchards isn’t anything new, but one agricultural researcher – Ali Pourreza – in Central California is taking existing drone technology to the next level.

“I thought, okay, two-dimensional imaging has been around a long time and it's helped a lot, but right now we have the capability to make 3D models,” says Pourreza.

Westlands Water District website

Last week was a bad one for one of California Governor Jerry Brown’s biggest priorities – the project known as California WaterFix. The board of the Westlands Water District voted 7-1 to reject a proposal to participate in, and help pay for the $16 billion twin tunnel project. That vote has left many asking whether the project has a future. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California farmers and environmental justice leaders are joining forces to support a bill that would help fund a clean drinking water program.

Klearchos Kapoutsis / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

The total value of agricultural goods sold last year in Fresno County dropped in value by around $482 million compared to 2015 according to the 2016 Annual Crop and Livestock Production Report released in mid-August by Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Les Wright.

 

Wright blames the lack of surface water supplies. Other farm goods like livestock fell by around 7 percent or $6 million dollars last year as well. Still the county produced over $6 billion in agricultural goods in 2016.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California's multi-billion dollar citrus industry is asking the Trump administration to ensure that Canadian and Mexican markets remain open to oranges, lemons and grapefruit from the San Joaquin Valley. Joel Nelson, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual says he hopes negotiators "do no harm" as they re-open talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Speaking on KVPR's Valley Edition, Nelson also said that other export markets remain a concern. 

Blue River Technology

Let’s face it farmers are usually slow to change their practices for a couple reasons. Change usually comes with a high price tag – a new tractor can cost a half million dollars. And farmers want to minimize risk by only investing in things that have been successfully tested and in the end don’t reduce profits. But robots are slowly changing that perspective.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Oil companies in California produce more water than oil. In the San Joaquin Valley that also has created a problem: what to do with all of that unwanted water? In most cases that wastewater is injected back into the ground, deep below the aquifer. But in some cases, injections may have contaminated federally protected aquifers that could be clean enough for drinking water.

Friant Water Authority

A section of the the Friant-Kern Canal in Tulare County is sinking so much that it's lost about 60 percent of its flow.

Doug DeFlitch with the Friant Water Authority says the canal that helps irrigate a million acres of farmland has sunk two to three feet in some places over about a 25 mile area. The original design capacity in the area is about 4,000 cubic feet per second and he says it’s dropped to 1,600 cfs. 

Kern County Public Health Dept

Fourteen farm workers in Kern County have been treated for exposure to a chemical after a presumed case of pesticide drift early this morning near Bakersfield. Kern County Public Health officials say the incident took place near Gosford Road and Taft Highway. The source of the pesticide is not known, but an adjacent field had been treated with a soil fumigant just yesterday. Kern County fire and hazardous materials teams also responded and treated workers who were exposed to the chemicals.

California WaterFix

It could be California’s biggest water infrastructure project in two generations – a plan to build two massive, 35 mile-long tunnels deep beneath the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Dubbed California WaterFix, it would send water from Northern California to farms and cities in the south, bypassing the fragile delta ecosystem.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Before Nikiko Masumoto picks a peach she lightly squeezes it. 

“We want it to have some give and not be hard like a baseball, but we want it to be firm enough that it will travel to wherever it needs to go,” says Masumoto.

The fruit she’s picking now is large, sweet and will be sold in the Bay Area. But a few weeks ago they were picking another variety, a tiny peach called Gold Dust.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Thanks to the rapidly melting snowpack, Pine Flat Reservoir on the Kings River east of Fresno is now expected to exceed 100% of its capacity. But water managers aren’t too worried.

Due in part to the extreme heat, estimates of the snowmelt flowing into the Pine Flat Lake were off by about 200,000 acre feet. As of Friday afternoon, the reservoir is just a few inches away from being completely full.

But with more water coming in from the High Sierra, dam engineers have a backup plan.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein used a visit to the Central Valley Thursday to criticize President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess caught up with the senator at a farm in western Fresno County.

Standing beside a freshly irrigated olive orchard, Feinstein warned that leaving the international climate change initiative could make the Central Valley un-farmable.

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