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Category Archives: Agriculture

Cal Poly Takes On Canada: Mosaicultures

Cal Poly Takes On Canada

Lauren Milliken, AEPS Student

Lauren Millikin, AEPS Student, Montreal Canada

Lauren Millikin, AEPS Student, Montreal Canada

A group of Cal Poly students and I went to Montreal to construct my senior project by participating in an international Mosaicultures competition. Mosaiculture is creating figures completely filled and covered with plant material. The competition was to create a landscape design that incorporated the theme of “Land of Hope.” Our team represented California in competition. Our goal was to design a scene that illustrated one of the defining characteristics of California: farming. California farms play a large role in the state’s economy, and we wanted to portray the connection between the farmer and land since agriculture plays a pivotal role in shaping our state’s economy. Our design revolved around an old farmer’s truck, and a father and son that represented farmers harvesting their crop. Stacked produce crates were also placed throughout the entire design to in order represent the symbol of California agriculture.

The group of Cal Poly students and a few faculty members all traveled to Montreal, Canada to construct the design at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

The group of Cal Poly students and a few faculty members all traveled to Montreal, Canada to construct the design at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

The Mosaiculture team

The Mosaiculture team

Team California/USA

Team California/USA

Team USA

Team USA

The group of Cal Poly students and a few faculty members all traveled to Montreal, Canada to construct the design at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The garden is world-renowned and consists of many types of beautiful gardens with smaller ones within them.

Although constructing our actual project was hard work, the group still enjoyed the time spent together working towards a common goal. The two figures were welded for us by the engineers while groups of about two people worked together to line the figure with plastic netting and then fill it with peat moss. In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design. After the figures were filled, the plants were installed by cutting holes in the netting big enough for plugs. We used various plant materials for different parts of figures like the overalls, shirt, jeans, hat, skin, and boots. The plugs were allowed grow into the figure and give them character. The rest of the plot had the truck with Mosaicultures filled crates and the ground was turned into rows of crops. We chose plants that mirrored actual crops grown in state such as echeveria that represented artichokes and begonia as strawberries. The rows were all plotted in different direction to give the area texture and depth.

Site preparation

Site preparation

Building the pallettes and boxes

Building the pallettes and boxes

The two figures were welded for us by the engineers while groups of about two people worked together to line the figure with plastic netting and then fill it with peat moss.

The two figures were welded for us by the engineers while groups of about two people worked together to line the figure with plastic netting and then fill it with peat moss.

In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design.

In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design.

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In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design

In order for the plants to grow, and still maintain its shape, the media had to be packed down as much as possible, which proved to be the most tedious process in the design

After the figures were filled, the plants were installed by cutting holes in the netting big enough for plugs.

After the figures were filled, the plants were installed by cutting holes in the netting big enough for plugs.

We used various plant materials for different parts of figures like the overalls, shirt, jeans, hat, skin, and boots.

We used various plant materials for different parts of figures like the overalls, shirt, jeans, hat, skin, and boots.

The farmers

The farmers

The plugs were allowed grow into the figure and give them character.

The plugs were allowed grow into the figure and give them character.

All our hard work put into creating the Mosaicultures was well worth it: the plot looked beautiful, even better than what was created in the design process. I am happy to be part of this school trip to Montreal. Not only did I receive hands-on experience in building a Mosaicultures in one of the most beautiful, and diverse, cities in the world, I also learned the importance of positive team dynamics in group projects. Overall, the trip was a major success, and truly embodied the Cal Poly “learn by doing” philosophy.

Students at work

Students at work

Designing the "crops"

Designing the “crops”

Working on the green truck

Working on the green truck

The "green truck"

The “green truck”

the "green" truck

the “green” truck

the truck with the "crops"

the truck with the “crops”

Placing the truck in the plot

Placing the truck in the plot

Next door project...

Next door project…

planting the "crops"

planting the “crops”

Team USA

Team USA

Finished product

Finished product

Finished product

Finished product

 

CP Farm Market

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Image

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Tony Blair works this farm market and took these pictures. Here is a quote from him as to why he enjoys working on the farm: 

“Markets are great to work at because you meet all kinds of people who always ask interesting questions about agriculture. This gives me a chance to teach them a thing or two about what I’m learning at Cal Poly!”

Come for U-picks every Wednesday and Friday at 2:30pm at the Crops Unit (follow the signs once you enter campus on California or Highland Drive). We also have Farm Markets on campus at the U-Picks as well as off campus on Thursdays at Farmer’s Market in downtown SLO. Visit our Facebook Page for updates on U-Picks: https://www.facebook.com/calpolyhcs?ref=tn_tnmn!

Hope to see you all this week at the u-pick as well as off campus markets!
Farm Stand Staff
(805)756-6778

Farm Stand & U-pick –
Wednesdays and Fridays 2:30-6:00pm
Saturdays 10am-2pm

Directions: From Santa Rosa St./Hwy 1, enter campus on Highland Ave and follow the signs.

Off Campus Farmers Markets –
Thursdays at Morro Bay and Downtown SLO
Saturdays on Madonna near Embassy Suites

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have. Reply to this e-mail or call 756-6778.

 

Building Our Resources: Strengthening Our Advantage

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE

Agriculture is the leading industry in California, contributing over $500 billion annually to the state. Among universities that grant undergraduate degrees, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at Cal Poly SLO is the fourth largest undergraduate agriculture program in the nation, with more than 3,500 students. It is the largest non land-grant agricultural program in the United States. The College awards an average of 650 baccalaureate degrees each year, nearly half of all baccalaureate agriculture degrees granted in California.

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA

The Department of Horticulture and Crop Science now serves over 300 students annually. Students at Cal Poly SLO come from all over California, with the majority hailing from the Central Coast and Central Valley, followed by the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas. Only seven percent of students attend from outside California.

HCS Vineyards

HCS Vineyards

The future of the agricultural industry rests with the education of Cal Poly SLO’s highly capable students who will provide leadership to one of the world’s most important industries. The challenge is enormous: produce more food for exponentially greater numbers of people on less land with a finite amount of natural resources and do it in an environmentally sensitive manner. Food, water, land, and air are our primary resources, and to use them wisely, we need trained, motivated students eager to tackle these critical issues with energy and intelligence. In addition, the enhancement and management of our personal and community environments with plants is an important issue that helps assure us healthful lives and better quality of living and keeps us in harmony with the natural world around us.

San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo, CA

AGRICULTURE’S KEY ROLE AT CAL POLY SLO

The University’s learn-by-doing, hands-on philosophy is reflected in the laboratory-intensive curriculum, focus on undergraduate research, importance of cooperative work experience, and the requirement of a senior project that is applied in nature. Cal Poly SLO is an institution that prides itself on keeping students current with industry trends. Horticulture and Crop Science at Cal Poly SLO have a rich tradition dating to the University’s founding in 1901.

Cut Flower production in Retractable Roof Greenhouse at Horticulture Unit

Cut Flower production in Retractable Roof Greenhouse at Horticulture Unit

In 1901, visitors to San Luis Obispo saw a ranching and farming community of just over 3,000 people. What is now the Cal Poly SLO campus was farmland some distance north of the town, a place where the trustees charged with finding land for the campus were impressed by the oranges picked from the groves of the Dawson Lowe Ranch. From the University’s earliest days, agriculture in the fertile area was a primary emphasis–even in areas where the soil was “inferior”. Trustees saw this as a perfect learning opportunity for students. As the campus grew in acreage, extensive dryland crops, vegetable fields, vineyards, and orchards were added to the site.

Cal Poly SLO Orange Groves on Highland Drive Entrance

Cal Poly SLO Orange Groves on Highland Drive Entrance

The departments evolved with the decades, feeling the pinch of the Great Depression and the extraordinary influx of students as a result of the GI Bill. Before World War II, horticulture facilities included a lab for plant propagation, tool storage for horticulture and grounds departments, housing for two students, a redwood lath house, and a 1,200 square foot glasshouse. The Crops Department had 390 acres under cultivation and an assortment of storage facilities. Only after World War II, was an Ag Building constructed, housing classrooms, offices, and labs. In 1962, the Crops field house (Building 17) was erected and land under cultivation soon increased to 719 acres.

Corn fields with Madonna Mountain in the background

Corn fields with Madonna Mountain in the background

Crops Unit Complex (Building 17) erected in 1962

Crops Unit Complex (Building 17) erected in 1962

Peaches in production at the Crops Unit

Peaches in production at the Crops Unit

The subsequent decade witnessed a building boom on campus. Conceived in the 1960’s, the Leaning Pine Arboretum developed over time into a lush, five-acre showcase for native and mediterranean climate plants. The 1970’s saw an increase of 13,000 square feet of greenhouse space for Ornamental Horticulture and Crops and some new facilities. New classroom and office space was added in 1986, with the construction of the Agriculture Sciences Building (Building 11). The Crops Department was able to add two new labs to their site in the 1990’s to replace the labs lost in prior renovations and construction.

Leaning Pine Arboretum at the Horticulture Unit (Building 48)

Leaning Pine Arboretum at the Horticulture Unit (Building 48)

In 2002, Environmental Horticultural Science (formerly Ornamental Horticulture) and Crop Science merged to strengthen student education across the curriculum and better prepare students to enter the Plant Agriculture Industry. But in recent years, facilities for both departments (most of which date from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s) have fallen short of the kind which today’s students expect and today’s industry requires.

EHS Unit at the top of Via Carta on campus

EHS Unit at the top of Via Carta on campus

In response, the Horticulture and Crop Science Department (HCS) has developed a master plan for comprehensive modernization of the Horticulture and Crop Units: the Sustainable Horticulture and Crop Science Complex. The current 20th century facilities will be revitalized to accommodate new technology and the needs of the 21st century. Already, we can see that this century of agriculture is driven by the need to feed and clothe a growing world population using methods that ensure the continued productivity of our farmland.

Food processing and packaging labs

Food processing and packaging labs

In these new facilities students will experience modern harvesting, post-production care and handling, marketing, and retail. The renovations will allow for meaningful collaborations with industry, preparing agricultural graduates to provide immediate value in the workplace, and renew both the Horticulture and Crop Sciences’ curriculum and faculty.

We were the second greenhouse nursery to grow this new variety of Green Ball Dianthus (aka Trick Carnations) grown at the EHS Unit greenhouses

We were the second greenhouse nursery to grow this new variety of Green Ball Dianthus (aka Trick Carnations) grown at the EHS Unit greenhouses

With your support during this planning process for the Sustainable Horticulture and Crops Complex, you will help develop:

  • More and better-qualified graduates
  • Improved learning facilities
  • Cooperative education programs with industry
  • Opportunities for students to enhance their skills in leadership, management, and communication
  • Programs that rapidly incorporate industry advancements, both in sustainability and technology

OUR FUTURE

Perhaps nowhere else in the world are the educational opportunities are greater for students to see, experience, and learn about the production, handling, utilization, and marketing of ornamental and food plants than in Central California’s Coast and Valley. On the coast, the mediterranean climate and superb growing conditions provide an extraordinary spectrum of ornamental and food plants. Nearby in the Central Valley, agricultural production is California’s breadbasket.

We're located in one of the most fertile areas in California

We’re located in one of the most fertile areas in California

California is also home to some of the largest nurseries, greenhouse operations, and landscape maintenance companies in the United States and ranks second among states in the number of golf courses. California’s horticulture industry is a multibillion dollar business and Cal Poly SLO graduates are in demand by the industry.

Students in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Students in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Poinsettia Enterprise Project in greenhouses at EHS Unit

Poinsettia Enterprise Project in greenhouses at EHS Unit

As we consider the future of agriculture in California, we have an extraordinary opportunity to plan wisely for a Sustainable Horticulture and Crops Complex, attracting new students to agricultural careers and expanding Cal Poly SLO’s critical role in the industry. Working with other departments across the campus, we will continue to teach our students to be environmentally and politically sensitive to the global forces that are shaping our industry:

  • Competing demand for natural resources
  • Cost structures
  • Infrastructure required to ensure a safe food supply
  • Energy consumption and the impact of alternative sources of energy
  • Shortage of skilled labor
  • International public policy demands

WHAT WE SEE FOR OUR FUTURE OF THE DEPARTMENT’S FACILITIES

Driving north on Highway 1 from the coast, the morros of San Luis Obispo rise from the east as you enter the valley, with Bishop’s Peak dominating the west. The entrance to the university on Santa Rosa is the first impression visitors traveling along Highway 1 have of California Polytechnic State University. Flanked by avocado and citrus groves on the south, and Radio Tower Hill to the north, it is also the first impression of the Horticulture and Crop Science Department. It is an ideal location to showcase Horticulture and Crop Science; planting terraces of water-wise native mediterranean plants on the northern slope, opening up the views to the orchards on the south, and creating immediate opportunities for learning with signage along the walkway leading into the interior of campus.

Bishop's Peak dominates the Cal Poly SLO backdrop

Bishop’s Peak dominates the Cal Poly SLO backdrop

Continuing along Highland Drive, now lined with Italian Cypresses, the groves and buildings of Crops Science are the first teaching facilities visitors encounter. The Crops Unit has 70 acres of productive citrus, avocados, grapes, deciduous orchards, and berries. Now the site is a series of labs and ramshackle structures, but we envision a Farmer’s Market outfitted in the old Crops Field House, moving the Organic Farm to this prime location, as well as a new winery, dormatory for a select few students, and upgraded teaching and office space.

Cal Poly SLO Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO Organic Farm

Walnut processing lab at the Crops Unit

Walnut processing lab at the Crops Unit

The relocated Organic Farm and new Winery will create innovative educational opportunities and programs that reflect the significance of these components in the crops industry. Largely student managed, the current eleven acre Organic Farm is home to a variety of programs, including Cal Poly SLO’s annual CSA subscription program. Students are involved in composting, natural pest control, native plants, bio-intensive agriculture and permaculture design. Additionally, students volunteer for work activities. But the current site is too close to other campus activities to be a truly successful and public-accessible organic farm.

Crops Unit Vineyards

Crops Unit Vineyards

Students harvesting organically grown vegetables at the new Organic Farm

Students harvesting organically grown vegetables at the new Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO grown produce from the Organic Farm

Cal Poly SLO grown produce from the Organic Farm

Produce from the Organic Farm and Crops Unit sold at the current Farmer's Market on campus

Produce from the Organic Farm and Crops Unit sold at the current Farmer’s Market on campus

Consumers are driving the demand for more organic and sustainable products. Additionally, there is an increased demand for locally produced products. At the new Farmer’s Market and Organic Farm, a visitor might learn about making honey, bottling wine, fruit and nut processing, enjoy an ice cream cone with Cal Poly SLO’s own ice cream, buy flowers and ornamental nursery plants from the Poly Plant Shop, or learn about organic and sustainable (as well as conventional) farming techniques. Visitors meet Horticulture and Crop Science students working in the shops, the fields or new labs, studying integrated pest management, viticulture, vegetable production or cleaning and storing equipment. A new greenhouse showcases the latest in hydroponic production, demonstrating how the vegetables for sale at the Farmer’s Market can be grown during the colder seasons. Green roofs cover the new buildings, including a dormatory for four students who oversee the site. These green roofs are water-wise, and insulate the buildings as well.

Nursery one-gallon plants for sale at Poly Plant Shop

Nursery one-gallon plants for sale at Poly Plant Shop

Poly Plant Shop student-made bouquets for sale

Poly Plant Shop student-made bouquets for sale

Student-built and maintained Greenwall at the EHS Unit

Student-built and maintained Greenwall at the EHS Unit

Cal Poly SLO Honey for sale

Cal Poly SLO Honey for sale

Fruit and vegetable production fields will be redesigned and relocated to enhance educational and operational efficiencies. New laboratories will incorporate the latest in operational and farm management equipment, particularly related to plant protection and product handling systems. Students have the opportunity to learn cutting-edge techniques in the field through close interaction with instructors. Lab-intensive, hands-on approaches to learning continues to be a top priority for our students.

Students trained how to use farm equipment

Students trained how to use farm equipment

Cut flowers in production in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

Cut flowers in production in the greenhouses at the EHS Unit

One-gallon nursery plants in full production at the EHS Unit

One-gallon nursery plants in full production at the EHS Unit

Driving east along Highland Drive and going left on Via Carta toward Poly Canyon Village, Cal Poly SLO’s new dormatories housing 2,700 undergraduate students, visitors come to the Horticulture Unit now transformed with new greenhouses, a visitor’s center and up-to-date classrooms, demonstrating the latest in plant production and floriculture techniques in a unique rural-urban landscape. The Amatoscapes at the southern end of the Horticulture Unit invite visitors to the Leaning Pine Arboretum, itself a showcase for water-wise mediterranean plants from Chile, South Africa, Australia, Europe’s Mediterranean Basin, and California natives. Along Drumm Creek, a horse trail borders the demonstration are for native plants where students work on bio-water filtration, propagating native grasses and restoring the creek habitat.

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Poly Canyon Village and Cerro Vista undergraduate dorms

Leaning Pine Arboretum

Leaning Pine Arboretum

The California food, fiber, flower, and forest system continue to change dramatically, being driven by continuing advances in technology, consumer behavior and globalization. The new Horticultural Science Unit will train students about the production, harvesting, handling, and utilization of ornamental horticulture crops in contemporary methods. Out-dated labs and classroom facilities will be modernized and greenhouse structures will be renovated to demonstrate cutting-edge technologies. Turf and arboriculture areas will be augmented with the high-tech equipment required for training students in this lucrative industry. Here too the green roofs and green walls are evident on the new dormatory and Visitor’s Center, underlining Horticulture and Crop Sciences’ commitment to creating sustainable landscapes and a harmonious relationship with our environment.

Arboriculture lab

Arboriculture lab

New student-designed, built, and maintained ampitheater

New student-designed, built, and maintained amphitheater

Beautifully student-grown pansies for color trials

Beautifully student-grown pansies for color trials

California claims the largest urban agriculture industries in the United States–industries such as landscape, nursery, greenhouse products, golf and recreation. The Horticulture Unit at Cal Poly SLO can offer students tremendous diversity of landscape–both natural and urban–to learn an integrated approach to land-use that addresses the optimum stewardship of the land, natural resources, energy and labor, combined with sustainable economic growth and profitability. This is the model that California’s agriculture, floriculture, and resource professionals will follow.

Hydroponic vegetable crops in the new Hydroponic Greenhouse at the Crops Unit

Hydroponic vegetable crops in the new Hydroponic Greenhouse at the Crops Unit

Students installing the next crop of hydroponic vegetables in the Hydroponic Vegetable Production lab

Students installing the next crop of hydroponic vegetables in the Hydroponic Vegetable Production lab

Hydroponically grown Gerbera Daisy cut flowers in the EHS Unit greenhouses

Hydroponically grown Gerbera Daisy cut flowers in the EHS Unit greenhouses

HOW YOU CAN HELP REALIZE OUR DREAMS

The College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences strives to be a leader in providing students with real-world skills based on laboratory and field-intensive curricula, contemporary instructional technology, uncommon access to senior faculty in small class settings, and student enterprise projects. We already know the new millennium is different than Cal Poly SLO’s was over 60 years ago. Skills, such as computer literacy and being technically savvy, are mandatory. The days of strictly domestic production are disappearing, and success on the international level will require an understanding of other cultures and fluency in other languages. Technology keeps increasing the rate of change in our world, and our students have to be flexible, agile, and successful communicators.

Student grown succulents

Student grown succulents

Senior projects offer students a unique opportunity to Learn. Do. Lead.

Senior projects offer students a unique opportunity to Learn. Do. Lead.

The opportunities are tremendous on this campus. More than 6,000 acres are allocated for agricultural instruction on the campus at San Luis Obispo. There is rangeland for grazing, and more intensively cultivated parcels are used for orchards, vineyards, fruit and nut crops, vegetable production, field crops, agroforestry, and turf management. Greenhouses, the Leaning Pine Arboretum, as well as facilities for fruit and vegetable processing are available for production and instructional use. But Horticulture and Crop Science has not been truly modernized since the 1970’s, putting Cal Poly out of step with industry standards. While the worldwide demand for trained men and women in plant bio-technology, integrated pest management, precision farming, post-harvest technology, research and development, consulting, and marketing is growing everyday, the Horticulture and Crop Science Department has more or less stood still. In order to give our students the best education that Cal Poly SLO can offer (and attract new and fresh faculty) we must bring our facilities up-to-date.

Cal Poly SLO Compost for sale

Cal Poly SLO Compost for sale

Collecting insects for Biocontrol and Entomology classes

Collecting insects for Biocontrol and Entomology classes

Scouting for pathogens at the Crops Unit

Scouting for pathogens at the Crops Unit

We estimate that we will need to raise $20 million dollars to do everything we see in our future. Our immediate goal is to secure $1 million dollars for design and planning of the Horticulture and Crop Science Units. This would include relocating the Organic Farm, changing the circulation and roadway on the site of the new Sustainable Crops Complex, new landscaping along HIghland Drive, garden design and landscaping for the Environmental Horticulture Center and a new entrance to Cal Poly SLO from Santa Rosa. Your gift is the building block that will allow us to incorporate our vision into the curriculum, secure new students and faculty anticipating the latest technology and techniques at Cal Poly SLO, and retain the “Learn by Doing” hallmark on which Cal Poly SLO has built its reputation.

Cal Poly SLO

Cal Poly SLO

If you would like to help us realize our dream for our new department facilities for our students, you can help by donating to the Horticulture and Crop Science Department. Just make a check out to “Horticulture & Crop Science Department” and send it to:

HCS Department,

1 Grand Ave.,

Cal Poly,

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

 

Intro: Bug Detective

Intro: Bug Detective

Posted by Dani Ruais

Cal Poly is full of opportunities. I did not think that I would have found an interest in plant protection science while I was here, but I found that I have deep fascination with insects and their interaction with plants. After my introductory entomology class with Dr. Headrick, I decided that I would concentrate on plant protection sciences, and filled out the necessary paperwork for my concentration that same day. During the rest of my student career at Cal Poly, I took all the plant protection science classes that were offered: vertebrate pest management, advanced weed management, insect pest management, plant pathology, biological pest control, etc. Going through the plant protection program was easy enough. The program takes an integrated management approach to controlling pests which basically means that you monitor as much as you can (intro: Bug Detective), and then use the least invasive controls first before progressing to chemical controls, in addition to coming up with plans to use several different control measures in conjunction with one another. The program really makes you think about all of our impacts on natural ecosystems as well as on cropping and ornamental nursery systems.

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The plant protection science program is comprehensive and prepares the student to take his or her Pest Control Advisor’s (PCA) license exam once graduated. Once I graduated, I had all the necessary educational requirements fulfilled for me to be able to take the PCA; and I passed the test my first time. The testing was in depth. But fortunately, Cal Poly professors tailor the plant protection science classes to uniquely prepare Cal Poly grads for the PCA test, as well as preparing the student to take his or her Qualified Applicators License (which is the next license I plan on receiving). PCA exam preparation lectures are also held periodically at Cal Poly for some extra help.

After I graduated, the Horticulture Unit was in need of a pesticide technician and I filled the position as I was studying to take my PCA exams. I really loved this experience. Sure it had some downsides that really taught me that maybe I do not want to do this in the future—by “this” I mean wearing a full Tyvek suit and respirator applying pesticides in a hot greenhouse in the middle of summer. I am not cut out for the heavy labor of being a pesticide applicator, but I do love to scout and recommend control measures. It also showed me that my education prepared me for real world experiences. My best friends during my position were my notes from previous classes I’ve taken, as well as the computer sites and databases that our professors have told us about so many times that we have them memorized.

As the pesticide technician at the Horticulture unit, my days consisted of monitoring the greenhouses and outdoor nursery and landscaped areas at the unit, identifying various damaging signs and symptoms, making recommendations for control measures for various weed pests, insect and mite pests, and plant pathogens, and applying those control measures that would best resolve our pest problems. I worked closely with the Horticulture Unit technician, Ellen Brack, PCA as well as with Dr. Rob Shortell, PCA and students who were growing their various enterprise projects in the greenhouses.

For instance, I had to take care of the reoccurring whitefly problems that come with growing poinsettias, and I had to monitor and work closely with the students in charge of the poinsettia growing to implement control measures. But one of the first things you want to make sure you know before diagnosing and treating a problem are the historical facts at play:

  • Poinsettias are susceptible to whitefly
  • Every year we grow poinsettias (usually by cuttings) we have whitefly affecting the crop
  • Even when we start with certified clean stock cuttings, we have whitefly affecting the crop
  • Historical weather data; pertinent environmental changes that could affect the reproductive cycles of whitefly
  • Whitefly is present on other crops in the neighboring greenhouses
  • Chemical controls are recorded and dated with corresponding graphs to measure effectiveness of control so we know what kind of effects our different control measures have over time

Knowing the answers to these types of questions prior to the establishment of the crop in the greenhouse allows us to use preventative measures, and physical and mechanical measures first, when they will be most effective and preventing a population to establish. Being proactive and consistent are the most important qualities in a PCA and in an integrated pest management plan. And making sure that when you apply a control measure, that it is the most reasonable one and that it is implemented 100% correctly so that they can be as effective as possible in order to not waste time and money.

By recording every observation (monitoring), gathering historically relevant facts (researching), as well as following up on every control measure to rate its effectiveness (recording) and decide whether to incorporate a control measure into an integrated pest management plan that looks at the whole picture; not just its isolated units.

Positions at Cal Poly are unique because it is Learn by doing. You have all the support you can get to prevent you from making mistakes, but even if you make a mistake and say burn all the plants with the wrong dose of pesticides, you do not get fired or ruin your career. Instead, you catch some flak, learn from your mistakes, and try to amend the situation. The position was equally challenging to control all pests at the unit, as well as to use and expand my knowledge base. I had the flexibility to try out different sprayers, different chemicals, various application methods, gain experience using beneficial insects, etc. I came away with probably a larger variety of knowledge than a lot of pest control advisors who have worked in one or two crops their whole careers. I got to work with such a variety of pests and crops and environmental situations that I feel almost like a jack of all trades- a little knowledge about everything pest related!

 

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Growing Rare Conifers

Growing Rare Conifers

Posted by: Mark Krist

My name is Mark Krist. I received a Bachelors of Science degree through the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences as an Urban Forester via the Natural Resources Management Department in 2007. I now serve as an Urban Forester through the College of Science & Math under the direction of Dr. Matt Ritter, Director of the Cal Poly Plant Conservatory. As the Urban Forester of the Cal Poly Plant Conservatory, I have had the pleasure to be involved in many important projects including the maintenance of this collection of rare conifers.

The attached pictures are of a collection of rare conifers currently being grown at the Leaning Pine Arboretum and slated to be planted in the future Math & Science Complex. The rare conifer collection is composed of 45 specimens representing 33 individual species. Recently the whole collection was transplanted to larger containers to promote continued growth. This was the second time the collection was “bumped.” The growing of the specimens on campus prior to the installation saves money and provides time to grow to a larger size.

This project is of particular interest because it represents a collaboration among the Horticulture and Crop Science Department (using the Horticulture Unit for space and resources), the College of Science & Math (the Cal Poly Plant Conservatory in the form of plant selection and maintenance) and the Cal Poly Grounds Department (who are the eventual landscape designers, and will install and maintain the plants). This collection is to be installed mid-2013 and that there are currently Landscape Architecture students formulating plans for class projects.

I would invite you to come visit the rare conifer collection at the Horticulture Unit, located in the Courtright shade house, to meet some new and fascinating specimens. All specimens are labeled and coincide with the following current container size listing.

Abies bracteata 15 gallon
Abies squamata 15 gallon
Agathis australis 15 gallon
Agathis corbassonii 5 gallon
Agathis robusta 20″ box
Araucaria bidwillii 20″ box
Araucaria E = 24 15 gallon
Araucaria unknown 15 gallon
Athrotaxis selaginoides 5 gallon
Austrocedrus chilensis (2) 15 gallon
Calocedrus rupestris 15 gallon
Cunninghamia lanceolata 20″ box
Cupressus gigantea (2) 5 gallon, 3 15 gallon
Dacrydium cupressinum (female) 15 gallon
Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (2) 15 gallon still waiting for boxes
Halocarpus bidwillii 5 gallon
Juniperis communis 15 gallon
Podocarpus gnidioides 15 gallon
Podocarpus lawrencii (2) 15 gallon
Podocarpus latifolius 20″ box
Podocarpus longifoliolatus 5 gallon
Podocarpus totara 15 gallon
Podocarpus urbanii 15 gallon
Pseudotsuga macrocarpa 15 gallon
Prumnopitys andina 5 gallon
Sciadopitys verticillata 15 gallon
Sequoiadendron gigantea (4) 15 gallon
Taxodium mucronatum (2) 15 gallon still waiting for boxes, (1) 15 gallon
Taxus selaginoides 5 gallon
Taxus wallichiana 15 gallon
Torreya californica 15 gallon
Torreya taxifolia 15 gallon
Wollemia nobilis 20″ box
Mark Krist

Urban Forester, Cal Poly Plant Conservatory

PlantConservatory.CalPoly.edu

MKrist@CalPoly.edu

 

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It’s the Little Things Around Campus

Posted By: Dani Ruais

As it is getting close to finals week here at Cal Poly, and as long as the entire student body is studying at Kennedy Library, why not take a walk around campus for a study break? You might be surprised at what you find! Just take a deep breath and look around youself. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, located in the valley of the Irish Hills, Madonna Mountain, the “P”, and Bishop’s Peak. We are minutes from the great outdoors: Leaning Pine Arboretum, Poly Canyon, Horse Canyon, not to mention the several hiking and biking trails on and off campus. Here are just a few of the great treasures that I look forward to spotting around campus on a regular basis. Being on this campus and in this beautiful town is just one of the perks of coming to Cal Poly SLO. Especially enrolling in the Horticulture and Crop Science Department, we are not only some of the creators of this beauty on campus, but we are also true stewards of this land and campus.

Sheep on the BRAE irrigation test field

Sheep on the BRAE irrigation test field

Sheep on the Bio Resource Agricultural Resource Test fields

Fletcher, one of the mousers at the Horticulture Unit, getting some much-needed TLC.

Say “Hi” to Fletcher when you are up at the Horticulture unit!

We treat our barn cats and mousers very well here! An extra special thank you to the Cal Poly Cat Program for taking care of our campus kitties!
Check out the Cal Poly Cat Program at: http://www.afd.calpoly.edu/facilities/cats/index.html

Hummingbird nest in the greenhouse corridor at the Horticulture Unit

Hummers nest at the Horticulture Unit

Baby swallows in the breezeway at the Horticulture Unit

How do they all fit in that tiny nest?!

Birdhouse at the Horticulture Dorm

The baby horses are out with their moms at the Horse Unit right across the way from the Horticulture Unit at the top of Via Carta on Cal Poly SLO’s campus.

Just enjoying the beautiful sun!

Take a walk up to the Horse Unit and pet a horse or two!

Horses!

Scrub jay at the Horse Unit

Thomas, the mouser at the Horse Unit

Thomas getting ready for a nap

View from the Horse Unit

Bishop’s Peak in the background; not a bad place to attend class 🙂

They don’t seem to mind the sprinklers.

Visit the Swine Unit!

Pirate calf

At the Dairy

Good luck studying for your finals! Hope this post reminds you to take it SLO!

 

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Back to Cali

Posted by: Mitchell

Hi All!

Sorry for the delay. It has been a rather hectic schedule since I left Iowa to finish my last quarters at Cal Poly!  As of this point, I am taking my last three required classes at Cal Poly, and then it is back to Colusa I go.  I felt that this blog was as good a time as any to reflect on my last five years in the HCS department.

I came to this university in 2007.  I didn’t know anybody, and realistically, I didn’t even really know myself.  Since that time I have taken more than 52 classes and met lifelong friends.  I have also had the chance to do things that I never thought possible such as travel both the world and the United States. I have been given the chance to not only be a student in a University, but be an individual at a school full of professors and staff who know me and what I need to succeed.

The main purpose of a college degree is to help prepare you for a career, but along with that, it’s to help you find out what your passion is.  For example, I am currently growing hydroponic lettuce for my senior project.  With this project we are hoping to start a breeding project that could help improve the way that we grow lettuce in California.  None of this would have been possible without the help of my advisor, my professors, and my classmates.  The project itself is an accumulation of everything I have learned at Cal Poly, and I really think it exemplifies everything that I love about this school.  Before this project, I had never grown anything using hydroponics, yet here I am, one quarter later growing whole lettuce crops.  Learn by Doing at its finest.
I believe that this blog has given people a good look at our everyday lives and what it might mean to be a student at this school.  If you love agriculture, learning, and growing as a student and as a person, come to Cal Poly, and become a member of our AEPS family.

 

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