Page 1

agcircle |

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

agcircle 1


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 we’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

visitor experience.

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.

Haley Warner

Hannah Fortin Page 6

Page 10

Page 4

Matt Durian

Diane Meyer

James Broaddus

Emma Morris

Laurie Sisler

Roman Waskiewicz

Page 12

Page 20

Page 22

Page 28

Page 30

Riley Nilsen

Alexandra Lavy

Jeanine Madson

Caitlin Paulus

Marleigh Ostrom

Page 34

Page 36

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2 | Spring 2016













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 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





Agritourism expands at Madonna Inn





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 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






The roles of California’s commodity boards

How foods become trends

PERFECT BLEND How Krush 92.5 was born






The evolution of livestock feed

A potatoe’s journey to your dinner table agcircle 3




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

Student Benefits

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.

agcircle 5



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

new fumigants.

the program.

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

today’s problems.”

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.

agcircle 7


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.

agcircle 9

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

systems design.

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.

agcircle 11



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

agcircle 13

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

landscape 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

maintaining certifications.”

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


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



Mackenzie Gomes

Sarah Tormey

Mackenzie Gomes

Holly Wilson agcircle 17

Mackenzie Gomes

Holly Wilson 18 | Spring 2016

Mary Allen



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 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



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

statewide drought.

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.

agcircle 21




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.

agcircle 23




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

winning beers.

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

Coast provides.

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.

agcircle 27

The Road an Almond Takes



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.

and variety.

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

agcircle 29

THROUGH THE LENS OF AN ALUMNUS A glimpse at how Scott Stebner tells the story of agriculture through images


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.

agcircle 31

Paso Robles, CA

JULY 20-31

BLAKE SHELTON with Caroline Kole

JULY 23 MAIN GRANDSTAND ARENA 7:30 pm Tix start at $51

TIM McGRAW with Brooke Eden

JULY 24 MAIN GRANDSTAND ARENA 7:30 pm Tix start at $51 1.800.909.FAIR



• Alpha Gamma Rho is a social and professional fraternity based around developing the leaders of the agriculture industry. • • The Chi Chapter’s alumni network has a national reach and a brotherhood that extends more than 40 years.

For more information on how to get in touch with the chi chapter, email:

ADVOCATING FOR THE INDUSTRY The role of California’s Commodity Boards









hile the Broncos were

milk?” advertisements are two of the more

based on their industry’s needs, such as

Super Bowl 50, football fans

commodity boards.

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,”

Delyser said.

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

traumatic situation.

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.

agcircle 35


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

and strokes.

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

reviled vegetable.

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




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

agcircle 39

Feeding for the Future

How livestock feed is evolving



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.

agcircle 41

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

“killing� 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 consumer’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

agcircle 43

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