Mark Bolda's Blog
Just started reading the book Machine Platform Crowd which is about the second phase of this machine age.
Great read, but what is striking is the summary of electrification and its initial slow uptake in factories. Why did something so obviously superior to coal fired steam power not get adopted the instant it was introduced?
There were actually a number of reasons. The adoption of electricity in factories was impeded by manufacturers who were reluctant leave to behind what they already were familiar with and knew well, and at the time electricity was only a marginally superior to coal anyway.
The real gains from electrification were to be made only when some manufacturers stopped just replacing steam engines with electric motors and redesigned the entire system - by placing electric motors on the conveyor belts, assembly lines and overhead cranes - and took full advantage of the new technology. The full potential of electricity now realized brought to bear huge advantages in price of production and flexibility, saturating the market with goods and hammering less able competition into the ground.
A lucid reading of the above should make us realize in the berry industry that in fact we are in a similar dilemma with our fitful advance on integrating automation into our agriculture. Really profitable automation simply doesn't mean replacing people with machines in the same fields as before. If we learn our lesson well from the transition to electricity from steam, we probably have to look at changing a lot about the production system itself.
With the retirement of Steve Koike on January 2, 2018, there may be some confusion regarding submission of plant samples to the UCCE Monterey County office for diagnostic services. Steve Koike addressed all plant disease samples that were submitted to our office for many years; however, a percent of the samples submitted for plant disease diagnosis were abiotic issues that were addressed by other advisors. UCCE Monterey County will continue to diagnose abiotic issues on vegetables (Richard Smith) and grapes (Larry Bettiga). Strawberry and caneberry abiotic issues should be directed to Mark Bolda at the UCCE Santa Cruz County office in Watsonville. We are willing to look at any samples you may have and can provide guidance on whether issues are biotic or need further confirmation by a plant pathology laboratory.
Just catching up on my reading, and ran across this little number concerning the production of seed propagated strawberries. To some extent, this is to provide an "environmentally friendly alternative to the vegetatively propagated varieties currently relied upon by the strawberry industry". One, seed propagation would mean less dictation of planting date by nursery harvest schedules and purchaser climatic region and two be able to eliminate the chemical inputs necessary in bare root production systems and avoid transmission of diseases by living plants.
I need some time to get my head around this.
Nice job btw by writer Lori Wright.
While most of the strawberry growing community is nestled around the warm fire roasting chestnuts, drinking hot toddies and reflecting on the past year, I've been managing a fairly large amount of communication concerning plant dieback which is almost certainly attributed to high nitrate accumulation from pre-plant fertilizers. Those queries which are accompanied by soil analyses say as much with EC's above four, and nitrates well above the 40 ppm what I would see to be of concern, with one sample even setting my heart racing with a stratospheric print of 220 ppm.
This has been discussed pretty thoroughly in this space before, so I simply provide the links here:
and a closer analysis of the issue, including soil samples, here:
We are not looking at getting much benefit from rain for a while, so it's time to run the overhead sprinklers to leach all of this stuff out if high nitrates are the issue in a plant dieback scenario.
I had lunch last week with Steve Tjosvold and Steven Koike last week to mark Steve K's leaving UC Cooperative Extension after 28 years of service. It's been a huge run, and his innumerable contributions to plant pathology have been of great benefit not only to science , but also Central Coast agriculture and beyond. He'll be moving on to Trical, and I look forward to continuing my work with him there.
For those of you who are happy with my research and extension program in berries, you have just Steven Koike to thank. I met him first as a graduate student touring the vegetable industry, and then continued to interact later on as a researcher in private industry. Steve's leadership, commitment to the industry, the depth and breadth of his knowledge accompanied by a first class program of extension delivery impressed me deeply and I resolved to get a job in this organization. As luck would have it, a few years later, I got one and have been loving it ever since.
Thank you Steve!