cal poly, san luis obispo spring 2016
Moving Water in New Directions A look into the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly
Through the Lens of an Alumnus A glimpse at how Scott Stebner tells the story of agriculture through images
Tapping into Craft Brewing Highlighting thriving craft breweries
A LETTER FROM THE STAFF
Cal Poly and the Central Coast are
hubs for innovators, thinkers and
new ideas. The unique climate and
proximity to the agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley brings collaborators
from across the agriculture industry.
This allows programs to thrive and
grow, such as the Cal Poly Strawberry Center and the Irrigation Training
and Research Center. Both centers are
helping their respective fields innovate beyond perceived capabilities.
Outside of Cal Poly, breweries
such as Bang the Drum and Tap It are finding their niche in the local
market, making San Luis Obispo an up-and-coming destination for beer
aficionados. Madonna Inn uses San Luis
culmination of everything weâ€™ve learned during our four years at
Obispo to its advantage, implementing
Cal Poly. We are proud of what we produced and are sure the next
agricultural education to create an all-encompassing
team will continue to bring new innovations to the Brock Center
The practice of innovation is also evident in the production of
Thanks for joining us on this journey,
Ag Circle. With each new Brock Center team comes new ideas
Katie, Harrison, Kenna, & Jordan
and new skills. For the current team, this is our last issue. It is a
CONTRIBUTORS Ag Circle is a student-run magazine published
twice a year. Student volunteers write the articles and play a large role in making the magazine.
Hannah Fortin Page 6
2 | Spring 2016
CREATING LEADERS OF TOMORROW
THE CAL POLY STRAWBERRY CENTER
BEHIND THE CAMERA OF AGRICULTURE
SUCCESSFUL BRAE SENIOR PROJECTS
MOVING WATER IN NEW DIRECTIONS
AG CIRCLE PHOTO CONTEST
agcircle Volume 34, Issue 2, Spring 2016 Published by the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication
California Polytechnic State University Brock Center for Agricultural Communication 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
firstname.lastname@example.org Building 10, Room 234 Editor-in-Chief Harrison Reilly
Cal Poly’s military science and ROTC program
An inside look at one of Cal Poly’s newest projects
Cal Poly and RFD-TV work to make agriculturally focused broadcast television
BRAE students excel in their capstone experience
The Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly
A highlight of the cover and top photo entries from CAFES students
Faculty Advisor Megan Silcott Associate Editors Jordan Dunn Katie Roberti Kenna Lewis Writers Riley Nilsen, Emma Morris, Matt Durian, Diane Meyer, James Broaddus, Hannah Fortin, Laurie Sisler. Roman Waskiewicz, Haley Warner, Alexandra Lavy, Jeanine Madson, Caitlin Paulus, Marleigh Ostrom Photographers Mackenzie Gomes, Holly Wilson, Diana Melero, Mary Allen, Sarah Tormey, Katie Roberti, Megan Silcott, Cal Poly ROTC, Cal Poly Strawberry Center, ITRC, Harrison Reilly, James Family Cellars, Emma Morris, Scott Stebner, The Krush, Cailtlin Paulus, Jordan Dunn, Giuliana Marchini
BALANCING THE SHORTAGE
RIDING INTO AN EXPERIENCE
Agritourism expands at Madonna Inn
TAPPING INTO CRAFT BREWING ON THE CENTRAL COAST
Graphic Designers Katie Roberti, Jordan Dunn, Harrison Reilly Submissions to agcircle are welcome.
Permission to Reproduce All material in this issue may be reproduced with the expressed written permission of the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication.
The contents of agcircle are generated by students, and do not reflect the opinions of California Polytechnic State University, its administration or faculty. Printed by PRP Companies.
How wineries are managing the current grape shortage
Highlighting thriving local craft breweries
THE ROAD AN ALMOND TAKES
The story of almond production and processing
THROUGH THE LENS OF AN ALUMNUS A glimpse at how Scott Stebner tells the story of agriculture through images
ADVOCATING FOR THE INDUSTRY
JOINING THE IN-CROWD
The roles of California’s commodity boards
How foods become trends
PERFECT BLEND How Krush 92.5 was born
FEEDING FOR THE FUTURE
PLANTING TO PLATE
I N T H E I N D U S T RY
The evolution of livestock feed
A potatoe’s journey to your dinner table agcircle 3
CREATING THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW: CAL POLY MILITARY SCIENCE AND ROTC
STORY BY HALEY WARNER PHOTOS BY CAL POLY ROTC
n the midst of the tranquil mornings
Agriculture, Food and Environmental
notable being the full integration of
sight of men and women decked in
expressed their thanks for the support
Gillen, even though Cal Poly ROTC is a
on Cal Poly’s campus, a familiar
proper physical training attire can be seen
running across campus. They are members of Cal Poly’s military science Reserve
Officer Training Corps (ROTC), practicing the physical elements of these programs.
The goal of the Cal Poly ROTC program is to “commission the highest quality future
Sciences (CAFES), military science staff from the college and the university. They value Poly Canyon for field practice and
various campus sports fields for physical
training. Rich in history and eager to create the leaders of tomorrow, ROTC is a hidden gem in CAFES.
leaders for our nation and [the United
Gillen, Cal Poly military science professor.
has been taught on college campuses
program can commit through both
the approval of the National Defense Act
States] army,” according to Lt. Col. Joshua Students interested in joining the
national and local scholarships or express
interest once admitted into the university. With the objective of commissioning
students as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army, Cal Poly ROTC trains the cadets
of the Mustang Battalion in elite physical training, leadership courses, national
competitions and international experiences. As a department in the College of
4 | Spring 2016
Although military science and training
women into the Army. According to
smaller-sized program compared to other California state institutions, “one of the things that sets Cal Poly apart . . . is the
quality of students.” Since 1953, Cal Poly
has commissioned more than 1,200 second
lieutenants and officers into the U.S. Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
Cal Poly ROTC offers an abundance of
since 1819, ROTC originated in 1916 with
leadership opportunities for students.
signed by President Woodrow Wilson,
classroom, where students learn about
according to the U.S. Army. Decades
later, past then-Cal Poly President Julian A. McPhee welcomed Cal Poly military
science and ROTC to campus in 1952, with the first group of cadets commissioned as second lieutenants in 1955.
Throughout the years, Cal Poly ROTC
has seen dramatic changes. The most
Leadership is first initiated in the
leadership qualities, values and ethics in
a variety of courses such as Foundation of Officership, Basic Leadership and other
applied leadership courses. To embrace the Cal Poly philosophy of Learn by Doing, cadets can then put their learning into practice.
“Students are placed in roles of increasing
mental and emotional abilities. After his
said. From working in teams, to becoming
program does for students, “This program
career as an aviation officer using the skills
cadets when they reach their senior year,
for the U.S. Army and the future. There
experience they will utilize during their
leader of our nation; we just don’t know
responsibility through their years,” Gillen
When asked what the Cal Poly ROTC
final year at Cal Poly, Greif plans to begin a
commissions the highest quality officers
and leadership he gained in ROTC.
students are able to gain leadership
is someone this year who will be a future
the finest training because of the support
time in the Army.
who it is yet,” said Gillan.
Environmental Sciences and Cal Poly, as
leadership abilities during the Cadet
junior and three-year member of Army
for Cal Poly ROTC members. Members
a cadet’s junior and senior year, the Cadet
make strong bonds with other cadets and
coursework involved with the program.
30 days in Fort Knox, Ky., training with
and ability to lead others. Army ROTC is a
second lieutenant, ready to lead a group
nation. While in Kentucky, they embrace
a better leader, but to be a better person as
can also earn a military science minor.
squad leaders, or eventually guiding
In addition, students apply their
Ryan Greif, a biomedical engineering
Cal Poly students are able to receive
of the College of Agriculture, Food and
well as the resources available specifically
Leaders Course. Typically taken between
ROTC, agreed. “ROTC allowed me to
ultimately benefit from the years and
Leaders Course allows students to spend
has significantly improved my confidence
Not only can they be commissioned as a
cadets from ROTC programs around the
program that will push you to not only be
of soldiers in the United States Army, they
different leadership positions and practice
well,” Greif said.
obstacle courses and other field
competition against other California ROTC
teamwork. Cadets also participate in training exercises.
He competed in the Ranger Challenge, a
“ROTC has been the center of my life
during college. I have met so many great people in the program,” Greif said.
programs, testing cadets in their physical,
ROTC members also engage in an
international leadership experience
through Cultural Understanding and
Language Proficiency (CULP) mission.
Led by Gillen and other members of the cadre (a group of leaders), cadets spend
nearly four weeks in Mongolia, working with the country’s military, building
partnerships, learning about the way of
life there and utilizing the opportunity to teach about American culture.
THE CAL POLY STRAWBERRY CENTER An inside look at one of Cal Poly’s newest programs STORY BY HANNAH FORTIN PHOTOS BY CAL POLY STRAWBERRY CENTER
ream. Sugar. Champagne.
industry through research and education.
it has official university support and is
with a delicious strawberry.
the College of Agriculture, Food and
sources,” Shelton said.
Practically everything goes well
Rated by the California Department of
Food and Agriculture (CDFA) as one of the top five most valuable fruit crops in the
state, California strawberries are shipped all over the world. According to CDFA, in 2014 more than 2.3 billion pounds of strawberries were harvested.
However, growers cannot maintain this
level of production without the assistance of young men and women seeking
innovative ways to progress the California strawberry industry.
In March of 2014, the California
Strawberry Commission partnered
with Cal Poly to create the Cal Poly
Strawberry Center, aiming to increase the
sustainability of the California strawberry 6 | Spring 2016
Mark Shelton, past associate dean for
Environmental Sciences, worked closely
“We need really bright minds feeding into this industry, and we’re putting them in the position to do so.” GERALD HOLMES
Director, The Cal Poly Strawberry Center
with the Office of the Provost to get the
Cal Poly Strawberry Center through the Academic Senate approval process.
“Once it was sanctioned, it became an
official Cal Poly center, and that means
available to receive funding from outside The California Strawberry Commission
saw potential for industry progress and
backed the Center with $1 million over a three-year period.
“We sat down with the leaders of the
strawberry industry,” Shelton said.
“The biggest producers in the industry
contribute to the Strawberry Commission, and that’s important.”
Professor Gerald Holmes was named
the Center’s director in 2014 and
Professor Kelly Ivors splits her time
between teaching and research. They
planted the first strawberry crop in the
fall of 2014, and the community willingly shared resources to get the program running.
CAMPUS BUZZ “We had farmers from Santa Maria that
brought equipment for the field work,” Holmes said.
The program gained momentum,
acquiring personnel, laboratories,
equipment, land and plants. The Cal Poly Strawberry Center now employs up to
14 students, has initiated about 20 new
projects and performs diagnostic services
producers up and down the Central Coast and throughout the state.
“We need really bright young minds
feeding into this industry, and we’re
putting them in a position to do so,” Holmes said.
One of these bright minds is research
associate Ryan Brantley. With two degrees
include screening different varieties
In addition to conducting research to
and a master’s in crop science, Brantley
fungicide resistance, powdery mildew and
passion for the industry, as well as nearly a
important to many growers. As the most
synergistic formula of plant essential
been curtailed for producers like Steve
problems,” Holmes said. “The problems
Botrytis cinerea on fresh strawberries,”
officer of Sierra-Cascade Nursery Inc., are
from Cal Poly, a bachelor’s in fruit science
for susceptibility to certain pathogens,
solve industrywide problems, the Center
brought his academic experience and
Verticillium wilt, in addition to evaluating
growers’ concerns about their crops, assess
decade of field research, to
“My thesis work sought to develop a
Testing and analyzing new fumigants is
common fumigant, methyl bromide,has
oil volatiles to reduce the incidence of
Fortin, president and chief operating
Brantley said. “The formula developed in
desperate for another solution.
patent protection to be owned by Cal Poly,
said Fortin, a strawberry nursery plant
Professor Wyatt Brown.”
need programs like the one at Cal Poly
pests and diseases the Cal Poly Strawberry
to allow both the industry and the next
that study is currently being evaluated for
myself, and Horticulture and Crop Science Botrytis is one of the large variety of
Center addresses. Some of the new projects
“We are losing one of our best tools,”
producer for more than 25 years. “We
using the intelligence of these students generation to succeed.”
provides diagnostic services. They take the issue and give them advice on how best to address the situation.
“Our whole goal is to help solve
we involve students with are
The center’s hard work and grant
writing has brought in a great deal of
additional funding, more than doubling the Strawberry Commission’s original
contribution and allowing more students to become involved.
The center’s projects and services draw
visitors including members of the state
Senate and Assembly, students from other
universities, and even California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross.
“There is always something happening,”
Holmes said. “That’s what makes it so interesting.”
As for the program’s future, Holmes
believes the Cal Poly Strawberry Center will continue to grow and make a
difference for strawberry producers. “I think we’re here to stay and do
many good things. I’ve had growers tell me that the Cal Poly Strawberry Center has become a part of the fabric of the industry,” Holmes said.
STORY & PHOTOS BY JORDAN DUNN
BEHIND THE CAMERA OF AGRICULTURE Cal Poly partners with national agricultural media outlet RFD-TV
he field of agricultural
group of 10 students from both
news anchor, was one of the faculty
grow at Cal Poly and as an
to produce news packages in 2015.
relationship with RFD-TV. The class first
communication continues to
industry. Part of the expansion can be attributed to the increased diversity of skills and knowledge practiced by those involved. In order for
agriculture’s message to accurately be
majors began working with RFD-TV The Nebraska-based RFD-TV is one of America’s top rural broadcasting networks, available to 40.7 percent
of households in the United States.
The Cal Poly and RFD-TV partnership
delivered to consumers, agricultural
developed out of RFD-TV’s need
in both agriculture and journalism.
coverage and both Cal Poly department
communicators must be well-versed Agricultural communication and
journalism students at Cal Poly have a new medium to collaborate and
learn these skills — agriculturally focused broadcast television. A 8 | Spring 2016
for California agriculture-focused
need for students to acquire work experience in this specific field.
Thus, a win-win program began. Richard Gearhart, a Cal Poly
journalism professor and KSBY morning
members responsible for fostering the started as a pilot program involving a few Cal Poly faculty providing weekly content, Gearhart said.
Scott Vernon, a Cal Poly agricultural
communication professor, and Thomas Morales, a faculty member in the
Journalism Department, are also a
part of the project. Vernon plays a key role by setting up stories using his
many connections in the California agriculture industry. Morales has a
background in news production and performs the technical support and
editing for the news packages.
The students enrolled are working
on a quarterly basis, learning to
produce high-quality news packages
while also learning about agriculture. Peter Gonzalez, a journalism junior, said he is using this opportunity to get a better understanding of the agriculture industry.
“I think that by not having a
background in agriculture I have a
more open mind because I don’t have any past experience,” Gonzalez said.
“It makes me more free to understand the agricultural program’s ideals.”
Journalism students generally don’t
take classes related to agriculture, so this experience for them is important if they plan on covering agricultural stories as a reporter in the future, Gearhart said. “I think it’s beneficial for journalism
students to get involved because the
typical person doesn’t have any idea
how agriculture in California works,”
said Gearhart. “It really prepares them to cover those stories regarding land use, water use and the environment
“It really prepares them to cover those stories regarding land use, water use and the environment when they get out and work.” RICHARD GEARHART Journalism Professor
when they get out and work.”
By having a group of students with
diverse backgrounds, it provides a more accurate reflection of what the students will see in the industry. This project
also gives agricultural communication
students access to utilize the broadcast equipment they otherwise might not
get in their classes, Gearhart said. “It benefits the agricultural
communication students in that we don’t, right now, have a traditional
television program,” Gearhart said.
“They learn video production in their
classes, but they don’t learn specifically broadcast television and how to
produce broadcast news packages.”
So far, the group collectively produced
a news package featuring Cal Poly’s
annual Western Bonanza Junior Livestock Show. Splitting into groups consisting of students from each major, they took on different aspects of the broadcast news package – some completing on-camera
interviews and some collecting footage of the event. The end result will be given to RFD-TV to use as a part of the network’s California agriculture coverage.
Because topics such as the environment
and food production are becoming
more a part of mainstream discussion, bringing agriculture and journalism students together is the first step in
building the communication channel between the public and agriculture.
SUCCESSFUL BRAE SENIOR PROJECTS BRAE students excel in their capstone experience
STORY BY MATT DURIAN PHOTO BY ITRC hen Cal Poly students reach their final year,
dump out a reusable plastic container (RPC), which farmers place
as their capstone experience. The projects vary
upgrade, the dumping of bins required complete hand labor. The
they are required to complete a senior project
by department and many are directly implemented into
the industry. Students in the BioResource and Agricultural
Engineering (BRAE) Department are adept at creating industryready projects.
BRAE senior projects range from designing and installing an
irrigation system to building a mechanical device used to harvest crops. Some recent projects have included “Drip Hydraulics
Program,” “Under-Tree Sprinkler Design in a Walnut/Cherry
Orchard,” and “ATV Mountable Tree Planting Station.” These projects all identify an industry need and create solutions for
them. Students develop methods to make their products more efficient and user-friendly for the farmer.
BRAE students typically start fall quarter of their senior year by
developing the project direction. During winter quarter, students begin research such as studying current methods, existing
designs in use and historical research to aid their new project
development. Once research is complete, the end of the year is
filled with construction, testing and finalization of their reports. Most students get their project ideas from home farming
operations or summer industry internships. Some companies will give students their ideas and funding for things such as
materials, supplies and consumables. The student will then create the design and provide the project labor, eventually giving the
results back to the company. This gives students opportunities to work on projects and receive experience in the BRAE field.
A successful senior project example came from student Thomas
Marderosian’s home farm. Marderosian created a machine to 10 | Spring 2016
citrus fruit into after it is harvested. Prior to the senior project
RPC dumper is now used at Bee Sweet Citrus in Fowler, Calif.
CAMPUS BUZZ To prepare for their capstone experience
and future careers, the BRAE Department exposes students to a variety of courses.
“Students take classes in each of the facets in the major. We have water, mechanical systems, electronics systems, biological
systems, and a component on structures
BRAE graduates have the highest median
the ag industry. We have a lot of research
starting median salary is $60,000 annually,
said Bo Liu, BRAE professor. “The use
salary out of all the majors in CAFES. The followed closely by agricultural systems management majors, also in the BRAE department.
Another example of a successful BRAE
going on with drone use in agriculture,” of drones in agriculture will be a cost-
effective and quick way for farmers to monitor their crops.”
Liu is a new addition to the BRAE
themselves,” said Mark Zohns, BRAE
senior project was an octocopter, an
Department. He joined Cal Poly in 2014
tracks that give students a good depth in
camera attached. The drone can be used
utilizing drones. His work with drones
professor. “You have all of these different all of them.”
Zohns has been advising BRAE students
at Cal Poly for 30 years. He is the
professor who students go to for advice
when they want their senior project to be integrated with mechanical
eight-rotored drone, with a multispectral to take photos of the field so farmers can
monitor the condition of their crops. The photos have the ability to show factors such as pest infestation or poor crop performance.
Farmers can gain information from the
drone’s aerial view and then use a ground
pigeonholed into one specific area; they
the problem the drone indentifies. The
“When they leave Cal Poly they aren’t
can go any way. It’s one of the reasons
why BRAE majors are the most highly
demanded graduates in Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES), ” Zohns said.
According to Cal Poly Career Services,
robot, another BRAE senior project, to fix ground robot can travel to the location
where there are issues, take more detailed photos and provide soil samples to find out exactly what is wrong in the identified area.
“Drone and robot use is fairly new to
and has since supervised senior projects and robots in the agriculture industry is considered groundbreaking and innovative by the agricultural engineering industry.
At the end of their senior year, students
submit final reports to earn their course
credit for graduation. Final reports range between 30 and 100 pages. Students’
final research reports can be found on Kennedy Library’s Digital Commons. Each report is an accumulation of
students’ work and lessons learned
from the time they entered the BRAE
Department to their completion of an innovative industry project.
MOVING WATER IN NEW DIRECTIONS A look into Cal Poly’s Irrigation Training and Research Center STORY BY DIANE MEYER PHOTOS PROVIDED BY ITRC
n the midst of a historic drought in California, the
the only university in the West that still has this type of
greater. The Irrigation Training and Research Center
effort to make sure the people that work here get master ’s
need for effective water management has never been
(ITRC), housed within the BioResource and Agricultural
Engineering Department (BRAE) at Cal Poly, has a full-time
staff dedicated to providing the most current education and
irrigation program,” Burt said. “We have made a real [degree] and doctorate [degrees], and to incorporate experience with theoretical education.”
When hired to teach irrigation classes for the BRAE
research in irrigation, impacting global water efforts.
department, Burt discovered the need to build the irrigation
teaching program in irrigation,” said Charles Burt,
is hired throughout the world as an innovative engineering
“The first goal of ITRC is to support our academic
chairman and founder. “The second goal is to do good things for the world in our field of expertise.”
Currently, the ITRC is one of the few irrigation programs
in the country and is leading the way in irrigation
education and research while simultaneously developing leaders to continue irrigation education. “Cal Poly is 12 | Summer/Fall 2016
side of the program. The ITRC officially formed in 1989 and outfit. Since then, Burt and the ITRC staff have worked
diligently to maintain a center of excellence and find balance between contract work and educational programming.
Although ITRC is an essential component of Cal Poly’s
irrigation courses, Cal Poly does not financially support the center. “Many people think that Cal Poly provides us with
CAMPUS BUZZ funding to operate on campus,” said Franklin Gaudi, BRAE faculty member and project manager for ITRC. “Actually,
we pay Cal Poly to be on campus. We are self-funded and
“Our mission statement includes providing training for students and professionals.” FRANKLIN GAUDI
BRAE Faculty Member and ITRC Project Manager
do it because we believe this model is good for faculty and students alike.”
To ensure the success and longevity of the program, more
than 60 percent of the ITRC work is high-level technical
assistance for outside contracts. The ITRC serves as expert
witnesses for law firms, conducts confidential research, and works on modernization projects throughout the world.
One of the contracts Gaudi currently works on is managing recycled water for reuse in the cities of Palmdale and
Lancaster within the Los Angeles County Sanitation District. “I help them utilize wastewater by using the best
management practices,” Gaudi said. “I provide irrigation scheduling, soil moisture monitoring and soil nutrient uptake. They treat waste water, or recycled water, to
tertiary quality, which means that it could technically be
put in a swimming pool. The current saying is shower to
flower—the idea that water that has gone down the drain
can be recycled and used for irrigation.”
Other efforts include modernization projects throughout
California, including a specialized fish screen designed to feed off the San Joaquin River, minimizing selenium and salinity flows into the Colorado River and helping with
drip and center pivots in Peru. Each project is specialized and unique, and the ITRC acts as a consultant to tell
engineers at each project how they can be more strategic and set up the best system possible.
“Water is elusive, it’s difficult to measure, and it doesn’t travel the way people think it does.” CHARLES BURT
Chairman and Founder
“We’re called in to come up with a vision on a lot of
these projects,” Burt said. “Water is elusive, it’s difficult to
measure, and it doesn’t travel the way people think it does. We look at all of these dimensions and come out with a package for a good price that saves the environment.”
Although the business takes up the majority of the work
done at ITRC, the center is focused on enhancing teaching and providing education for the irrigation industry. “Our
by Doing activities are conducted at the J.M. Merriam
and professionals,” Gaudi said. “Burt saw a need in the
Facility. The IPF is used to demonstrate and practice on-
additional technical skills and created the curriculum based
for canal modernization and research. The ITRC staff is
mission statement includes providing training for students
Irrigation Practice Field (IPF) and the Water Resources
irrigation industry for working professionals to obtain
farm irrigation, while the Water Resources Facility is used
on the needs of the industry.”
working on developing and enhancing online courses.
mandated a 25 percent reduction in water use in towns and
outside of Cal Poly and the ITRC,” Gaudi said. “The
online courses for landscape irrigation auditing and
ITRC are now available nationwide through the Irrigation
earn continuing education units towards completing or
For instance, in April 2015 Governor Jerry Brown
“With our online classes we are trying to reach people
cities throughout California. To help, the ITRC developed
online landscape classes that we’ve developed here at the
sprinkler design to improve residential and commercial
Association. People all over can take our classes and
The center holds about 60 short-courses a year for
industry professionals. These courses primarily take
Another goal of online classes is to provide online content
place from the end of winter through summer, with
for junior colleges. There is a lack of knowledge about
and flow measurement. The ITRC has three facilities on
instructors with lecture material to teach their classes.
Lectures are held at the ITRC offices in the BioResource and
student involvement in the field is important to ITRC. The
topics ranging from canal control to irrigation scheduling campus used for teaching both professionals and students.
Agricultural Engineering building, and the hands-on, Learn 14 | Spring 2016
irrigation at that level, so the online content provides
With a lack of industry irrigation specialists, encouraging
center employs graduate and undergraduate students to
help research and manage the facilities. Students help the
faculty with specific aspects of their consulting projects,
in BRAE water courses. It is a self-sustaining institute
outdoor facilities. During the school year about 15 students
grow a sustainable future. “We get to make our own story,”
set up for short courses and maintain the office and are employed and up to 30 students are hired over the summer.
“I’ve learned so much about irrigation and also get
hands-on experience that I have used working in
industry,” said Dante Pecchenino, a third-year BRAE
working to develop leaders who can all work together to Burt said. “We have a lot of opportunities.”
“Water is our way of existing,” Pecchenino said. “We need
this research to develop better ways of farming and make sure water is getting to our crops.”
major. “It’s a great opportunity to learn how to use the new technology available and ways to use water more efficiently for irrigating.”
“Working for the ITRC enhances student employment
opportunities because people in the industry, especially those that have worked for the ITRC, know what these
students are capable of and the knowledge they possess,” Gaudi said. “The student employees that continue on to work in irrigation also want to work with ITRC on
projects or to recruit students for internships and jobs.”
The ITRC has gone full-circle, developing out of a need
to build irrigation training in the BRAE Department
to providing the research and information now taught agcircle 15
Photo by Diana Melero
agcircle PHOTO CONTEST
The Ag Circle photo contest is comprised of
photos submitted by Cal Poly students. The
winning photo is always awarded the cover of the spring Ag Circle issue. Mackenzie Gomes earned the coveted cover spot for her photo. 16 | Spring 2016
ON THE COVER
Holly Wilson agcircle 17
Holly Wilson 18 | Spring 2016
Cal Poly offers the only agricultural communication degree program in California. It provides students the opportunity to engage in a broad and enriching college experience. Students of this program develop skills in many disciplines of agriculture, while learning tools to effectively inform and bridge the gap in communication between producers and consumers.
• • • •
Top-10 ranked agricultural communication program in the United States The program offers undergraduate major and minor degrees Curriculum includes introductory agriculture courses in nearly every department of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Hands-on opportunities with the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication and other organizations
For more information on Cal Poly’s Agricultural Communication major, contact email@example.com or 805 756-2803 agcircle 19
BALANCING THE SHORTAGE How wineries are managing 2015’s grape shortage and why the shortage isn’t necessarily detrimental
STORY BY JAMES BROADDUS PHOTOS BY HARRISON REILLY & JAMES FAMILY CELLARS
alifornia is well known for many different agriculture
“There was a 20 to 25 percent decrease in coastal grapes while
wine. The 2015 wine grape harvest showed a significant
lower-priced wine regions had near normal production. The
commodities, especially grapes and, concurrently,
decrease in harvest tonnage compared to past years, leading
many experts to claim the industry is experiencing a wine grape shortage.
The 2015 California Grape Crush Report cites the 2015 crush
totaled 3.9 million tons, down 7 percent from the 2014 crush of 4.1 million tons. Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of all grapes crushed, at 2.3 million tons, down 5 percent from
2014. The 2015 white wine variety crush totaled 1.7 million tons,
down 5 percent from 2014. The drop in tonnage is blamed on the extreme variation in weather conditions.
“There were shortages in certain types of wine,” said Daniel
Rodrigues, a Cal Poly wine and viticulture lecturer. “However, I
only a 10 percent decrease in interior California grapes. Mid-to North Coast region was struck hard, merlot and zin had full
crops, but everything else suffered in the region,” Pauli said.
Cal Poly alumna Judy James owns James Family Cellars with
her husband, Jeff. The James grow six acres of primarily pinot
noir, which is mostly sold to other wineries on contract. In the
past, each acre averaged over 3.5 tons, though in the 2015 harvest the six acres produced only four tons total. These four tons did
not fulfill the contracts, which forced the James to use their crop insurance to break even and weather the loss. Additionally, the
winery averages 600 to 800 cases of wine produced annually, but the lack of grapes took away the option for production.
James said “hard, heavy rains knocking blossoms off” was the
am skeptical to say we are short on wine because there is so much
biggest factor affecting the growth. The rain has an opposite effect
of this year’s harvest will decrease the surplus of wine and help
leftover wine in the tanks from previous harvests. The shortfall stabilize prices.”
Veteran California grower Bill Pauli is involved in California’s
diverse agricultural market. Pauli said when looking at the wine industry there are segments. “The coastal, Lodi, the Greater San Joaquin, and the North Coast are all very different,” Pauli said. 20 | Spring 2016
of the majority of California crops in the current
Rodrigues agreed, stating the combination of the strong storms
and the worst pest and disease outbreak in over 10 years jointly knocked down production numbers.
Though weather and disease appear to be the largest
overarching factor, other additional aspects came into play.
“I am skeptical to say we are short on wine because there is so much leftover wine in the tanks from previous harvests. The shortfall of this year’s harvest will decrease the surplus of wine and help stabilize prices” DAN RODRIGUES
lecturer, wine and viticulture
Production of all crops tends to ebb and flow from
harvest to harvest causing averages to just become
A look at supply
benchmarks. Rodrigues added there were so many young growth vineyards that 2016 will likely have plentiful of new grapes coming into production.
The lighter production impacted more than just
the total crush tonnage. Leading up to harvest,
vineyards normally need thinning for the benefit of the crop. “The crop load was so light,” James said.
“There was no need to thin, it naturally had less of a need to be removed.”
After crushing, the 2015 vintages should expect
great flavor, James said, as vines with less tonnage lead to higher quality grapes.
On the producers’ side, the shortage of bottled
wine is a positive aspect. “We are still selling 2012 and 2013 vintages of chardonnay and pinot noir,”
Pauli said. “We are a whole vintage behind and this will let us catch up.” Allied Grape Growers, 2015. All rights reserved. provided by allied grape growers
Overall, California struggled with a light
production of grapes, but fear not. The wine industry is far from failing.
STORY & PHOTO
S BY EMMA MO RR
RIDING INTO AN EXPERIENCE Agritourism expands at Madonna Inn
ne of San Luis Obispo’s greatest attractions happens to be a historical one – the Madonna Inn.
Alex Madonna, construction manager and rancher,
to continue working for the Inn and carrying on her grandfather’s legacy after graduating from Cal Poly in 2016.
Alex Madonna had a passion for the Western lifestyle and the
founded the original 12 rooms of the Inn, which has continued to
history and heritage it carries. “Western heritage has always been
states, as “an international landmark destination, Madonna Inn
cattle and horses, and my family ranches and rodeos, so we have
transform since its Dec. 24, 1958, opening. As the Inn’s website redefines unique with 110 whimsical guest rooms, enchanting décor, and resort amenities.”
Though it is not a business involved in production agriculture,
the Madonna Inn plays a role in uniting agriculture and the general public.
“My grandpa’s first love was agriculture,” said Audrey
Pearce, agricultural communication senior and Alex Madonna’s
granddaughter. “But he got his start in construction. When he was 15-years-old, he started out with a pick, shovel, and a Model-T
a part of my family’s history,” Pearce said. “My grandpa loved a deep respect and love for the land.”
Madonna incorporated this passion into his business at the
Inn, and made it a priority to bring the Western traditions to his guests. Today, the Madonna Inn is the only hotel on the Central
Coast offering horseback trail riding. “It is a huge draw,” Pearce said. “There’s something about going out into the wild on
horseback. People feel like they’re encapsulated in a little realm of rustic wilderness.”
Trail riding is one of the biggest attractions at the Inn. The trails
Ford, from which he grew his construction business.”
on Cerro San Luis Obispo Mountain provide guests the ability to
start at the Inn folding cake boxes with her brother for the bakery.
from this interaction with nature and agriculture the Inn provides.
Pearce grew up on what is now the Madonna Ranch and got her
She is now the assistant marketing manager, where she works on
blogging, social media, advertising and public relations. She plans 22 | Spring 2016
see San Luis Obispo from horseback. Pearce said guests can learn The Inn enables people not associated with agriculture to
experience it first-hand and helps make the industry relevant to
them. Pearce said, “I think when you can get them to see it and
Their steakhouse menu has offerings such as San Luis Sourdough
changing peoples’ worlds with trail riding, but we’re shifting their
sausage. They also have a kitchen garden at the Inn, which
smell it and feel it, it becomes real to them. It’s not like we’re paradigm of what agriculture and the land really is.”
In addition to offering guests a taste of the Western lifestyle
through trail rides and interaction with livestock, the Madonna
Inn offers a large selection of food and wine. It has a bakery, café and steakhouse on site, and offers wine, cheese and chocolate
tastings. The Inn’s food and beverage buyer, Randy Halterman, influences which foods the Inn provides.
“I have a [budget] for how much to buy every week, and
I purchase everything from liquor to meat and produce,”
Halterman said. “We have six main food vendors and I make the decision on what is purchased.”
The Inn purchases large volumes of food, which makes it
garlic bread, Cayucos-farmed abalone and locally handmade provides produce items for menu specials. The Inn is able to
support local agriculturists and exhibit the quality of both Santa
Barbara and San Luis Obispo County’s agricultural production by providing these local products to guests.
Halterman shared one of the best parts of his job is deciding
which foods to buy through taste tests. “We have cook-offs of
different products—like today we had a prime rib tasting. Then whichever one wins, we buy,” he said. The quality of food and wine is a priority at the Madonna Inn. The staff works closely with local retailers and producers to ensure their guests are getting the best products available.
The uniqueness of the Madonna Inn is what continues to draw
difficult to rely solely on local producers, but they buy local when
travelers, but what keeps them coming back is the wide range of
Berry Man wholesaler here in San Luis Obispo, or from produce
for a one-of-a-kind resort showcasing the Western lifestyle is
possible. “Nearly all of our produce is purchased locally from The retailers in Santa Maria,” Halterman said.
The Inn’s extensive wine list contains nearly 50 local wines.
activities, food and wine it has to offer. Alex Madonna’s vision
successfully carried out by the family and employees today, and poised to continue for many years to come.
TAPPING INTO CRAFT BREWING ON THE CENTRAL COAST
STORY & PHOTOS BY HARRISON REILLY
an Luis Obispo County is famous
there ever has been for local craft beer. “It
recently beer has flooded the green
scene is growing all over the United States
for its wine and scenery, but
foothills of the Central Coast, catering to the young people and Cal Poly students who live in the area. Since 2010, Central
Coast Brewing, Tap It, Figueroa Mountain,
could also be said that the craft brewing and we don’t really have all that many
breweries on the Central Coast, so there’s definitely room for growth.”
Relatively speaking, there are not many
BarrelHouse Brewing and Bang the Drum
craft breweries on the Central Coast
the United States as of 2014, according
Brewery have started brewing award-
The breweries opened on-site brewing
facilities, taprooms, speakeasies and
restaurants in San Luis Obispo County. Jeremy Fleming, co-founder and head
brewer at Bang the Drum, believes this is
a reaction to the larger craft brewing boom across the United States.
“It’s probably stemming from the
demand, honestly,” Fleming said. “There’s more demand on the Central Coast than 24 | Spring 2016
compared to the 3,418 craft breweries in to the Brewers Association. However,
breweries are noticing a new demand. BarrelHouse Brewing Co. opened a
speakeasy in downtown San Luis Obispo in January 2016, SLO Brew is currently building a new, bigger bar downtown to showcase their beers, and Blast 825
Taproom opened in February 2016 with over 30 self-serving taps.
Fleming and his three partners originally
envisioned Bang the Drum as a restaurant.
breweries on the Central Coast,” Fleming
have the expensive, automated systems the
licensing, they found it easier to open a
beers, those one-offs, those things that are
This is in contrast to a brewery down the
But after looking into permits and
brewery. A Small Craft Brewer license
allows Bang the Drum to brew and serve beer on their property without any extra paperwork or licensing.
“It was almost like a loophole we could
easily jump through and start producing
beer, manufacturing beer and selling beer
said. “But it allows us to do those random very unique that you’re not going to find
road from Bang the Drum, Tap It Brewing,
I’m not afraid of taking a risk. That’s the
Tap It is an example of a grassroots
anywhere else. And you know, honestly,
biggest thing, we are so small that we can
take risks, and it’s not going to hurt you all that much if it doesn’t turn out right.”
Bang the Drum only has the capacity to
from one facility without having to get
make three barrels at a time, with each
Bang the Drum represents the more
gallons. It takes 14 man-hours to make
extra licenses,” Fleming said.
creative and adventurous side of the craft brewing scene. Its beers include flavors
bigger brewers can afford.
batch of beer equaling two barrels, or 62 a batch because Bang the Drum doesn’t
which has the capacity to brew 22 barrels. brewery that expanded rapidly after opening in 2010.
“There was a major learning curve
associated with moving into a production brewery from our home brewing roots,”
said Katelyn Egger, marketing, events and
tasting room manager at Tap It. “We expect to double production for 2016.”
such as chipotle peppers, Canadian honey, coffee and maple syrup. Fleming cites
Dogfish Head in Rhode Island as a major
influence and credited them to opening up the doors for more creative brewing styles. “We tend to do a lot of things that are
off the wall, not your average beer, not
your average pale ale or IPA,” Fleming said. “We usually do a lot of locally
sourced additives as much as possible to
the unique beers that we do. We try to do things that are hard to find or not as common.”
Bang the Drum is small, but this allows
them to be more adventurous with the brewing process, Fleming explained.
“We are probably one of the smallest agcircle 25
has a vintage barbershop at the top level and a bar at the bottom of the stairs
modeled after a prohibition-era speakeasy with 14 rotating taps. The speakeasy’s
building was built with brick and is unique for its hundred-year-old exposed metal
beams. Patrons can enjoy shuffleboard or dice while drinking the latest BarrelHouse brew.
With so many options, San Luis Obispo
County is turning into a beer and wine lover’s paradise. Each brewery on the
Central Coast is experiencing growth and increasing popularity, as evidenced by
expanding operations and the construction of new facilities. Both Tap It and Bang the Tap It strives to stand out from the
pack. The company’s bright orange color
allows it to have eye-catching bottles and according to Egger, a visually stimulating taproom.
“Tap It is unique and original in every
aspect from our custom beer-pouring
fire truck, to our bright orange color, and award winning beers,” Egger said. “We
percent of hop production in the United
Drum recognize the potential the Central
States, according to USA Hops), but have
Fleming says Bang the Drum get hops
feel very lucky to be able to call it home,”
production effort in San Luis Obispo. Both
we wanted to brew beer in our backyard,
in material sourcing.
bikes to the brewery while enjoying fresh
started growing hops in Edna Valley.
“As far as San Luis Obispo goes, we
from all over the world, but started a small
Egger said. “Really the truth of it is that
breweries strive to be as local as they can
in our hometown, and be able to ride our
Another unique aspect of Central Coast
air and beautiful scenery.”
With innovative practices, creative minds
built our own bar and tables, custom
breweries is what they offer in their tasting
even turned a tractor trailer into our
encourages its visitors to literally bang
Coast is turning into an area fit for beer
weekly Friday concert in its courtyard.
Tap It and BarrelHouse are just some of the
taproom scene is BarrelHouse Brewing’s
growth in the United States.
welded our aluminum fire pit, and
music stage. We enjoy being creative
and imaginative with everything we do, especially our beers.”
Similar to Bang the Drum, Tap It tends
to be adventurous with their beers, which include kettle sour beers, barrel-aged
beers with locally sourced barrels and big,
hoppy beers. Despite the expansion, Tap It plans to stay family owned.
“What makes Tap It different from the
industry as a whole is that we are not
owned by a larger brewery or directed by a board of investors,” Egger said. “Since day one, Tap It has seen organic growth
allowing our business to grow to where it is today and in doing so, have still stayed 100 percent family owned. As [founders]
John and Miles Gordon say, ‘it’s about the beer, not the bottom line.’”
For hops, both Tap It and Bang the Drum
source it from various places. Tap It gets their India Pale Ale hops from Yakima
Valley, Wash. (Yakima is responsible for 75 26 | Spring 2016
rooms, aside from beer. Bang the Drum
and inviting new venues, the Central
on drums while tasting, and Tap It has a
aficionados. Breweries like Bang the Drum,
A new addition to the San Luis Obispo
Speakeasy and Barbershop. The speakeasy
places contributing to the rapid craft beer
THE MANY BEERS OF THE CENTRAL COAST With so many unique beers to try, the abundance of choices can be overwhelming for beginning beer aficionados. Below is a quick guide to the fun, strange and exciting brews in San Luis Obispo.
Bang the Drum •
Gluten Free IPA: a 100 percent gluten-free American-
Draca: a chipotle-infused smoked porter.
style IPA. The beer for those who can’t drink beer.
King Mate: an English-style IPA infused with Yerba Mate.
Tap It Brewing •
Cafe Noir: an imperial coffee porter, barrel-aged eight months in pinot noir wine barrels from Central Coast wineries.
Pi Golden Ale: a clean lager made with yeast from Belgium, fermented at low temperatures.
S.N.A.F.U. Double IPA: a heavy hopped and bitter beer, with over 100 IBUs and made with six combined hop additions.
BarrelHouse Brewing •
Curly Wolf: a maple vanilla bourbon stout aged in
bourbon barrels for six months. The beer is infused with fresh maple syrup and vanilla beans.
Sunny Daze: made for sunny California days, Sunny Daze ia a tropical citrus blonde ale made with clementine oranges.
Wild Dapple Fire: a wild ale crafted with rare Dapple Fire Plouts from a local organic farm.
The Road an Almond Takes
STORY BY LAURIE SISLER PHOTOS BY LAURIE SISLER & GIULIANA MARCHINI
lmonds are a time-demanding
rootstocks are often more resistant to
knowledge and skill help him keep up to
planning, investing and
roots and cause diseases) and enable the
data. With care like Mendes’, the almonds
crop with a great deal of
caretaking required before a harvest can ever be achieved. Almond trees require
nematodes (round worms that attack the trees to grow better.
“Planting typically doesn’t start until
three years of preparation before they start
December when all the young trees are
soil factors. According to the California
nursery and transported to the growers’
producing and are sensitive to water and Department of Food and Agriculture, as of 2015 almonds are California’s second
dormant, and they get dug up from the fields,” Baker said.
Growers need to make sure the
date with new almond information and
continue to develop until late July to early August when hulls (the outer layering around the shell) begin to crack open.
Once this happens, equipment is hauled
into the orchards to shake the almonds off the trees.
After shaking, the almonds dry out on
top agricultural commodity and the most
peach rootstocks are in the ground and
the orchard floor for eight to 10 days, and
to continue successful harvests as a top
can be grafted to them. After the trees have
and sheller facility.
exported, valued at $5.9 million. In order commodity, certain growing methods
need to be considered such as root stock selection.
John Baker, almond grower and
representative at Harris Woolf California Almonds, said there are two things to be considered when growing almonds.
“Above ground is the variety,” said
Baker. “And then below ground is a
developed enough before the almond trees
been grafted, it takes three to four years for the tree to develop and mature enough to start producing almonds. When the trees are mature enough to produce, beehives
28 | Spring 2016
Knowing the difference between male
difference between you and somebody
“It’s just like people; you have male
Woolf Farming. “And you got to get the
trees become more productive. The peach
annually produce for 20 to 25 years.
the varieties. This is called
February and March to help pollinate all
and their roots take a base, the almond
By using a grafting method, the almond
crops because they will continue to
and female almond trees takes a trained
trees and you have female trees,” said Joe
trees are then grafted onto the rootstocks.
Almonds are considered permanent
are placed in the orchards between
rootstock that is usually a peach hybrid.” After the peach rootstocks are planted
are then picked up and brought to a huller
Mendes, the permanent crops manager for male pollen onto the female pollen and vice versa.”
After 23 years in his position, Mendes’
eye. “It’s the same way I could tell the else, you just look different,” said
Mendes, who can now see the varietal
differences with ease because of his years of experience. “If you have been out here
long enough you kind of know what you are looking at.”
INDUSTRY “A lot of the success from the huller-
sheller operation comes from preparation
and planning,” said David Casida, another plant manager at Harris Woolf.
According to industry professionals,
some countries such as India will actually order in-shell product because it helps
create jobs for people to shell the almonds. If the almonds are not going to be ordered in full meat form, they will be sent to a
different facility where the almonds will then be blanched and processed further.
The blanching process heats the almond and soaks them in water, then takes the Where Does the Almond Go?
There is a complex sub-industry where
people are involved in hulling, shelling and processing the almonds to be consumer ready.
“You get to see it growing on the trees
and then it becomes real,” said David
Estep, a plant manager for Harris Woolf California Almonds.
Once the almonds are brought in from
brown skins off the meat.
Once the almonds have been blanched,
they can be sliced into different
thicknesses, slivered or even made into flour.
“There’s thick sliced, regular sliced,
thin sliced, and extra thin sliced,” said
to-face relationships and the processing
facilities, almonds would be far from any snack aisle,” he said.
“This industry is more of a service
industry,” Estep said. He added that
typically goes into cereals.”
almonds, they also market and sell them.
Harris Woolf. “The natural, regular sliced Estep said the furthest the almonds are
exported to from their facility is Europe.
almond consumers eat) separated into size
Korea,” Estep said.
customer relations. “If it weren’t for face-
Mike Dias, a production manager at
the field, they need to be hulled and
shelled. This gets the meats (the part of the
by almond processors is maintaining
“We also export into China, Taiwan and
manufacturers don’t just process the
“At the same time, we are providing a
service to the end user: the buyer.”
Estep said one of the challenges faced
THROUGH THE LENS OF AN ALUMNUS A glimpse at how Scott Stebner tells the story of agriculture through images
STORY BY ROMAN WASKIEWICZ PHOTOS BY SCOTT STEBNER
Simply put, Scott Stebner tells the story of agriculture through
captivating images. “Someone in New York (likely) can’t come to a farm in Kansas, someone in Denver can’t come to a farm out in Nipomo or San Luis Obispo,” said Scott Stebner, an agricultural photographer and storyteller. However, that is exactly what he aims to do through the power of visual media, by creating a
platform that enables consumers to see where the world’s food comes from.
Stebner, who has always been interested in photography,
attributes his start in journalism to his time spent at Cal Poly
in the early 2000s, specifically his involvement with Mustang
Daily, known now as the Mustang News. While his journey in
photography gained headway at Cal Poly, his original career plan was to be a high school agricultural teacher. Stebner graduated from Cal Poly with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science and started teaching in Morgan Hill, Calif. After teaching at a
few different programs, he stepped away to start a family and
to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural communications at Kansas State University. He is now working toward earning a doctorate degree in agricultural communications to become a professor in the subject.
Although no longer in the high school classroom, he said he
feels that once you are an ag teacher, you are always an ag teacher. His passion for agricultural education was clear as he described how he never truly plans on leaving agricultural education. Stebner’s primary mode of communicating agriculture is
through the lens of a camera, which is seemingly natural as he
commented “when I picked up my camera, I always kind of had that viewpoint of agriculture in my background.”
Stebner’s ability to capture agriculture is where his work is
distinguished from the work of others. When asked about his
style, Stebner remarked it is ever growing and changing, but he
said it can best be described as cinematic. He specified in order to achieve this cinematic style, he aims to get the images on par, in
a quality sense, with what people see in high-end magazines and 30 | Spring 2016
movies. Obtaining this style and creating captivating images is more than catching good lighting, he said.
In finding the right image to capture, Stebner approaches the
lens with a creative eye and scientific mind. His photos are a
combined result of art and psychology. One of his largest projects and biggest successes to date is a book he published titled
“Kansas Farmer”, saying “it took well over a year to do, tens of thousands of miles and too many hours to count.”
The book, funded by the Kansas Farm Bureau, portrays
dramatic imagery of farmers from across Kansas, utilizing
powerful lighting and coloring to better portray their story. He
mentioned “a fair amount of research went into every single one of the pictures,” describing how the color grading has a strong
effect on the perception of a picture, explaining that “color theory
will denote that blues can bring some sadness.” With this in mind, he tries to avoid these color schemes in animal agriculture, and instead uses oranges and yellows in the photos.
Stebner believes photography and media can play a large role in
communicating the story of agriculture given the way consumers interact with photographs.
“Our country loves to talk about food and it’s an awesome
thing,” he said. As a result of this conversation consumers want to have, Stebner sees photography, video and other forms of media facilitating these conversations.
“There is so much opportunity to convey agriculture with
images and video,” he said. While he sees photography remaining
a strong communication tool, he expects video to be a primary source of growth for communicating the industry’s message. In the future, Stebner hopes to showcase minority farmers
as well as measure the impact his projects have on consumers
and the public. Regardless of his next project, Stebner said he is
proud to be an agricultural educator. He will continue to educate students in the classroom—creating the next generation of
agricultural communicators—while striving to portray the image of the agriculture industry in the public realm.
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ADVOCATING FOR THE INDUSTRY The role of California’s Commodity Boards
CALIFORNIA AVOCADO COMMISSION
CALIFORNIA OLIVE OIL COUNCIL
CALIFORNIA LEAFY GREENS MARKETING AGREEMENT
CALIFORNIA MILK PROCESSOR BOARD
ALMOND BOARD OF CALIFORNIA
CALIFORNIA WHEAT COMMISSION
STORY BY RILEY NILSEN PHOTOS BY BROCK CENTER FILES
hile the Broncos were
milk?” advertisements are two of the more
based on their industry’s needs, such as
Super Bowl 50, football fans
maintaining quality standards.
defeating the Panthers in
across the nation consumed a mountain
recognizable campaigns put forth by these The California Department of Food and
facilitating promotion, researching or
The California Avocado Commission
of food. After all, a Super Bowl party
Agriculture (CDFA) began establishing
(CAC) is an example of a promotional
of guacamole and a handful of wings.
various boards voted into establishment by
president of marketing at CAC, shared
wouldn’t be complete without a big bowl While viewers reached over to scoop
more guacamole onto their chip, avocado
commodity boards in 1937 to oversee the different commodity groups.
According to the CDFA, “the purpose
growers throughout California celebrated
of marketing programs is to provide
industry’s commodity board.
organizational structure, operating under
a marketing success put forth by their
There are over 50 commodity boards
within the Golden State and they play a huge role in how the agriculture
industry is marketed and perceived.
The California Grown seal and the “Got 34 | Spring 2016
agricultural producers and handlers an government sanction, which allows
them to solve production and marketing
problems collectively that they could not address individually.”
Each board serves a different purpose
based board. Jan Delyser, the vice
“after the CAC established guacamole
with the Super Bowl, it left lots of fruit
in the summer months.” The success of one campaign can lead to generating a
follow-up, non-traditional campaign. As a result, “we used the Fourth of July as a cornerstone holiday to promote and
market the later season of our fruit that
hasn’t been marketed as well in the past,” Delyser said. This helped avocado sales
INDUSTRY communication director. Ward joined
LGMA when it began in 2007 and has built the brand with her communication and marketing specialization.
“Certified LGMA members use a service
mark that signifies that the member has been verified to be in compliance with
the LGMA food safety practices,” Ward said. “Members of the LGMA are only
allowed to use the service mark after they have been audited by CDFA auditors and
skyrocket from the average summer sales
seal. When olive oil is produced, they
with a surplus of fruit.
and set them apart between extra virgin,
that would have otherwise left farmers
measure the quality of producer’s oil
virgin and ordinary olive oil. The seal
requires members to go above and beyond the international standards and meet
both chemical and sensory requirements in order to be sold as extra virgin. The
commission provides its members with
LGMA compliance officer.”
grade standards for the producers.
organizations where members pay fees
the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement
growing question amongst commodity
of Escherichia Coli (E. coli) that sickened
additional government funding. Many
watched spinach get pulled off the shelves
beyond state and federal regulations to
needed to change. The CDFA was at the
Compensation for higher standards is a
marketing opportunities and helps define A different type of commodity board is
Avocado sales rose from $20.7 million in
2011 to $42.5 million in 2015 because of the efforts of the CAC. Commodity boards are
influential in the growth of industries such as avocados.
“The value equation is working,”
submitted any corrective actions to the Commodity boards are non-profit
based on a percentage of their output. A
(LGMA). In 2007 after a tragic outbreak
board leaders centers on securing
more than 200 people, California farmers
of California’s boards go above and
in grocery stores and knew something
market the state’s agricultural products.
table when the Leafy Green Marketing
need identified by several boards.
“That’s just the way it’s going to be,”
Ward said. “The only way it seems
Another example of a state commodity
board is the California Olive Oil Council
possible is if we pursue grants.”
specialty crop in California,” said Lisa
the grants available and we could always
“Not all commodity groups qualify for
(COOC). “Olive oil is the fastest-growing Pollack, the lead marketing director of the
use the extra funding,” Pullock added.
$4 million annually and the industry is
California agriculture continues to
With the help of marketing boards,
COOC. “Currently, farmers are producing continuously growing.”
Agreement developed after the
transform and grow. The success of
these boards is measured in the growers’
percent of the state’s olive oil industry.
is the first and only California commodity
for consumers, California agriculture is
outreach benefits, including a certification
shared April Ward, the organization’s
The California Olive Oil Council
currently has 400 members making up 90 Members receive many marketing and
“The Leafy Green Marketing Agreement
board solely focused on food safety,”
perception of the value provided. Lucky always in season.
JOINING THE IN CROWD
The story of how foods become the next big trends STORY BY ALEXANDRA LAVY PHOTOS BY STOCK IMAGES
“A day without kale is like a day without
or vitamins and minerals, per volume
Weekly” news story about the leafy cabbage
such as Jamba Juice, Naked and Odwalla
sunshine,” actor Kevin Bacon said in a “Us that took 2015 by storm. It is no surprise
stars praise kale: the food is one of the most nutrient-dense plants on earth. One cup
contains 600 percent of the recommended
have all started making kale their frontrunner drink, using its “superfood” status and delicious taste for marketing.
The kale trend started in 2014 when actress
daily dose of vitamin K, 200 percent of
Gwyneth Paltrow said kale “is one of the
grams of protein, and only 33 calories,
“Telegraph” magazine. Soon after, a group
vitamin A, 130 percent of vitamin C, three according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Kale rose to one of the top trending crops
over the last few years, with many media outlets and celebrities championing the
vegetable as a super-food. For the last few
best things you can put into your body” in of celebrity endorsements followed with
some of the top A-list celebrities jumping on
the kale bandwagon, followed by magazines and social media, and eventually, everyday consumers.
Only five short years ago, “Got Milk?”
years, kale earned a glowing reputation from
advertisements used to be everywhere. The
took over social media sites with accounts
parents and their children knew to get all their
hundreds of thousands of believers. It also
and trending hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Kale marketers use social media platforms to showcase the
product’s nutritional information and recipes, as well as pique public interest.
Kale can back up its hype with nutritional
facts alone. Melissa’s Produce, a leading
national produce company, considers kale as one of the best food sources because it
contains a high amount of micronutrients, 36 | Spring 2016
consumed. Health food and drink companies
biggest celebrities endorsed the campaign, so
calcium and vitamins through dairy. Recently, the ads have been disappearing, as the Milk Processors Education Program moved from
the “Got Milk” campaign to “Milk Life” as the former campaign lost traction.
Today’s trends give way to products, such
as beets, kohlrabi, and nuts, as seen in current advertising markets.
Currently, Love Beets, a business created
by the Shropshire family, is trending on
“A day without kale is like a day without sunshine”
things t s e b e th f o e n o “Kale is body.” r u o y to in t u p n you ca
ur o Y n o t s Be Fa o t t n a “W at the w !” o n s t is e d e e e w B a e s t “Why Feet? Ea uperfood table”
top of the s
social media outlets such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. The
than seaweed, seaweed contains more essential minerals, which
can order, all made out of beets, along with various recipes to try
of seaweed, which is 100 g, it contains 168 mg of calcium, 2.5 mg
company’s website includes various juices and snacks customers at home and merchandise for sale. According to the Love Beets
website, beets have many health benefits, which include fighting
against fatigue and anemia, due to the high iron content in beets. Beets are also rich in potassium and nitrite, both of which aide
most people are lacking from their diet. For every serving size of iron, and 121 mg of magnesium. On the contrary, per every
serving of kale, which is also 100 g, kale holds 135 mg of calcium, 1.7 mg of iron and 34 mg of potassium.
While kale remains a trending veggie in today’s market,
in muscle contraction and ultimately the heart, which can lower
celebrities and the power of social media continue to impact
as commodity boards gain endorsements and even television
blood pressure and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease While beets and kale are popular superfoods, there are other
foods similar in nutrient density. Salmon contains the greatest amount of Omega-3s, which is important for optimal body
function and lowers the risks for many serious diseases. Potatoes, which are not exactly trending in the media, are one of the most nutritious high-carb foods around. One potato contains a high amount of magnesium, manganese, copper and iron, and is one of the best sources of potassium,
food trends. Marketing campaigns prove to be highly effective series’ attention. Successful campaigns can greatly benefit the agriculture industry as shown and profit margins. Keep an trendy bandwagon will
by increased kale sales eye out for the next and maybe you
fall in love with a traditionally
according to the United States Potato Board.
Still, despite the nutrient benefits in potatoes,
kale has dominated the market. In recent years, the popularity of kale increased to an all-time
high. The price of fresh kale actually rose with
popularity and increased by $1.66 per bunch in the last three years.
One plant that could be even
healthier than kale but is less popular is seaweed.
Although kale contains
more vitamins per serving agcircle 37
t is no secret California’s Central Coast contains an
abundance of great food, picturesque wineries and a
community encouraging of a local and fresh lifestyle.
With more than 200 wineries in Paso Robles, Calif., alone and the craft beer movement on the rise, local winemakers and
brewmasters needed an outlet to reach the community. That is where the untapped resource of radio came in.
According to American General Media, located in San Luis
Obispo, the 92.5 FM station struggled to find its niche audience and purpose. From pop to rock, the station tried “everything under the sun,” said on-air personality and radio disc jockey Pepper Daniels. But in September 2009, The Krush 92.5 was
born and for nearly seven years has served as the premier local radio station for local wine, beer and all things tasty.
Daniels said The Krush has been a great way for local
wineries to promote their products while creating an
educational platform for locals who may be interested in wine or other related events.
“In the wine industry, they’d never really been conditioned
to use radio as a promotional vehicle,” Daniels said. “When the idea for The Krush came along it really took on a life of its own.”
As the interest of wine production on the Central Coast rose,
The Krush could not dive deep enough into the wine industry to satisfy its listeners. With the help of local winemakers and
sommeliers, The Krush continues to cover close to every aspect 38 | Spring 2016
STORY BY JEANINE MADSON PHOTOS BY THE KRUSH
INDUSTRY of the winemaking process, from planting,
the year. The Krush team created the
The Krush’s 12-weekly shows highlight
Avila Beach, and celebrates its fifth
bud-breaking, pruning and harvesting.
all facets of the wine industry, including
current issues such as the drought, wine pairings and local events. The Krush
utilizes winery input from all over San Luis
Obispo County to southern regions of Santa Ynez and Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County.
While it is their most popular subject, The
Krush doesn’t just stop at wine. In the last 18 months, The Krush added a new show to the station called Central Coast Craft Beer Radio showcasing local breweries
like Firestone Walker, Barrelhouse Brewing Company and Central Coast Brewing.
Macaroni and Cheese Festival held in
“When the idea for the Krush came along it really took on a life of its own.” PEPPER DANIELS
On-air Personality & Radio DJ, The Krush
successful event in 2016. According to
Daniels, upwards of 15 local wine and
beer events are held each month during spring. Some of these include Paso
Robles Blend Fest, WiVi Central Coast and the Chardonnay Symposium.
“What’s cool about The Krush…is
that it’s more local than any other radio station around,” Daniels said. “We
generate all of our content from the local area.”
Tune into The Krush at 92.5 FM or online
Aside from radio shows, The Krush hosts
and sponsors many events throughout
Feeding for the Future
How livestock feed is evolving
STORY BY CAITLIN PAULUS PHOTOS BY CAITLIN PAULUS & KATIE ROBERTI
ne-third of the world’s arable land is already in
production and the remaining land is being cultivated at an alarming rate, according to the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. With rising populations also in need of livable space, the amount
of land available for livestock and crop production will likely decrease in the future.
Organizations and groups such as the National Wheat
Association of America claim one-third of the world’s cereal grains (such as wheat, oats, corn, rice and barley) are fed to
livestock. However, Jude L. Capper, a livestock sustainability consultant, said the notion of reducing meat production to
increase the amount of food for humans may only be true if the
cereals fed to livestock were also edible for people and if the land used for pasture was farmable.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service
estimated that in 2007 less than nine percent of the country’s
pastureland was suitable for crop production other than forage.
This suggestion does not take into account the enormous amount of by-products from human industries that are fed to livestock
every day. By-products are the incidental or secondary products
made from the processing of grains, fruits and vegetables, along with the further manufacturing of food, fuel and fiber products. By-products typically are not readily available for human
consumption due to safety, quality or digestibility limitations, but they can be incorporated into feed for ruminant animals, such as
dairy cattle, according to the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
What makes these feeds so appealing as livestock feed additives
is they are nutrient rich and relatively cheap when compared to
traditional feeds. During the manufacturing process, liquid, sugar, 40 | Spring 2016
starch or some other component is removed from the commodity, leaving behind a protein and fiber dense product perfect for
livestock. By-products such as dried distillers’ grains (DDGs),
cottonseed, beet pulp, brewers’ grains, citrus pulp, rice bran and many others have become staples in livestock diets across the country.
DDGs are the by-products of the ethanol industry, which has
grown rapidly over the last few decades. From 1980 to 2014 ethanol production in the United States expanded from 175
million to 14.3 billion gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels
Association. To produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 56 pounds of corn is used, which generates 17.5 pounds of DDG by-product.
According to Cal Poly Professor Keela Retallick-Trennephol, a
beef cattle nutrition specialist, the feeding value of dried distillers’ grains is actually greater than that of corn.
“It has about three times as much protein as corn does and three
times as much fat; the thing that it lacks, however, are starches
because they are removed during the production of ethanol,” said Retallick-Trennephol.
Many by-product feeds are similar by lacking one or more
nutrients because production processes remove some nutrients.
In order to ensure livestock receive an adequate amount of each nutrient, proper advising should be taken into consideration when developing a feed mix.
Almond hulls are another example of a waste product turned
feed, especially in California where 80 percent of the world’s
almonds are produced. According to research conducted by the
Almond Board of California, 20 to 30 percent of the almond fruit is nutmeat, 20 to 30 percent is shell and 40 to 60 percent is hull.
Therefore, after processing, approximately twice the volume of
hull is produced compared to nuts produced. While humans can
“By feeding less forages and more by-products that are nutrient dense, you can both increase milk production and decrease costs.” ROLLAND ROSA
Co-Owner, Rosa Brothers Milk Co.
only consume a small portion of the almond fruit, a cow’s
specially adapted stomach can easily digest the fibrous hull, according to Rosa Brothers Milk Company.
Rolland Rosa, co-owner of Rosa Brothers Milk Company in
Tulare, Calif., along with his brother Noel, have watched their dairy cows consume masses of almond hulls since they began
using by-product feeds in the mid-1980s. For Rosa, these feeds are economical and they can help increase milk production.
“If you are feeding forages only, say if you are just feeding corn
silages with alfalfa, there is a limited amount of nutrients in those that would maximize milk production,” Rosa said. “By feeding
less forages, and more by-products that are nutrient dense, you can both increase milk production and decrease costs.”
The 1,000 head of cattle at the Rosa brothers’ dairy are currently
fed a mixture of almond hull, cottonseed, canola meal and various other forages. But Rosa and his dairy nutritionist are constantly
looking for new efficient and inexpensive feeds. “You’re always
looking for things that you haven’t fed before and that might have enough energy or protein to work well in your ration,” Rosa said. Rosa and livestock producers across the country continue to
seek affordable, nutritious and sustainable feeds. Finding such
sources is proving to be livestock agriculture’s greatest defense in the fight for shrinking resources.
PLANTING TO PLATE How potatoes get to your dinner table
STORY BY MARLEIGH OSTROM otato chips, potato salad, hash
as potato chips and hash browns.
on the variety, mature potato plants
bread—it’s no secret these
and onions nationwide to retail and
tubers per plant.
browns, french fries, potato
products all originate from potatoes. But
where do those potatoes come from, and what processes do they go through in
order to become products on the dinner table? From the plant to plate, growers,
processors and marketers work together so consumers can feel confident the best possible produce is enjoyed.
Potatoes are a tuberous, starchy spud
of the Solanaceae family grown in all 50
states, with Idaho as the leading producer. The Idaho Potato Museum claims
potatoes are a near perfect food because a diet of whole milk and potatoes alone
could supply almost all of the necessary nutrients for human survival. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)
National Agricultural Statistics Service
reported the overall crop value of potatoes in 2013 as more than $3.9 billion. More
than half of those potatoes were sold for
further processing to make products such
Potandon Produce markets potatoes
wholesalers. Potandon describes their
Shelly Carlson is the vice president of
pre-planting process in a few simple steps.
sales for Pro Health, a company priding
by tilling the soil, performing soil testing,
to their customer base, free of genetically
The fields are dressed prior to planting
and implementing initial soil fertilization
and pest control. Once rows are furrowed,
small potato seeds are planted. Depending
“Potatoes are a near perfect food because a diet of whole milk and potatoes alone could supply almost all of the necessary nutrients for human survival.” IDAHO POTATO MUSEUM
42 | Spring 2016
produce on average between eight to 25
itself in producing potatoes grown closer modified organisms and environmentally safe. Carlson explained the journey one
Pro Health potato takes from first planting to plate. Typically, the first potatoes are
planted mid-March in Western Nebraska and the Panhandle of Texas. To keep the
plants healthy, growers typically check the fields a few times a week. Potato plants
grow quickly. The tubers, soil and canopy of the plant are examined frequently to
ensure disease, pests and weeds do not interfere with optimum growth. Based
on the progress of the crop, the potatoes
may go through a few cycles of herbicides,
insecticides and pesticides prior to harvest. Irrigation is crucial to the potato growing
process. It is essential for the crop to get
the necessary amount of water throughout
INDUSTRY the growing season and for growers to
Pro Health performs its Pure Wash System,
more steps may take place from field to
to harvest to allow optimum skin set
to spray water and ozone to carefully
potato chips must be washed, peeled and
stop irrigating a few days or a week prior for the tubers. Farmers usually time the
â€œkillingâ€? of a field by spraying a defoliant
on the crop. This causes the above-ground foliage of the crop to die while halting
the growth of the underground potatoes, leaving the tubers a desirable size with
a thicker skin. According to Carlson, the
first harvest for their mid-March fields is
typically in early August. During harvest, the initial grading is performed based on size while dirt clods are sorted out of the crop. The very same day potatoes can be taken from the field to the packing shed only a few hours away.
Transportation from the field to the
packing shed is accomplished on 40-foot
refrigerated trailers. In the packing shed,
which uses stainless steel machinery
remove dirt and debris without taking
off the nutritious skin of the potato. Next,
potatoes are graded based on appearance, size and uniformity. Those same potatoes
in the field on a Sunday could be packaged and on grocery store displays three days
later if all goes as planned. Since potatoes are such a heavy product, the shipping
can be expensive for growers and packers. Many potatoes are placed in storage after
being harvested in order to meet consumer demands around Thanksgiving or in the
spring. Potatoes put in storage are held in refrigerated bulk cellars and monitored through computerized sensors.
market. For example, potatoes made into
trimmed. The potatoes are then put into a
brining solution, sliced and blanched, and either baked dry or deep fried. Additives may be included such as salt or other
seasoning. Once seasoning is added, the chips are packaged. Depending on the
designated end product for a potato, there are many different paths it may take.
However, industry standards and practices have been put in place to ensure all potato products are grown in the safest and
most sustainable ways possible with the consumerâ€™s health and happiness in mind.
For potatoes to be further processed
and not sold as fresh products, many
Excellent source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C 0 fat, sodium or cholesterol 2 grams of fiber
48 mg of magnesium
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