Agriculture in California must adapt to a present and future in which water is more limiting, both due to climate change and state policies. Innovative farmers have already developed one strategy that uses much less water: dry farming. Dry farming is a technique that involves growing crops with little to no irrigation water inputs, contrasting sharply with the high irrigation water demands in most of California's agriculture. This technique is particularly promising in coastal regions with a maritime climate. A number of farms from Santa Cruz to Bolinas dry farm tomatoes and sell for a high premium. But almost all of the dry farming is done with one hybrid tomato variety. Additional research is needed to understand what other vegetable or legume crops, and what varieties, are conducive to dry farming.
This project will involve selecting 2-3 crops and 10-15 varieties of each of those crops to use in a dry farming field experiment at UC Berkeley's Oxford Tract research station. Data on crop traits, yields, and quality under dry farming will be collected. Field days will help share information with other farmers and the public.
Undergraduates will play a leading role in this project, working with Prof Bowles and two PhD students. Undergraduates will first conduct background research to identify promising crops and varieties. They will then start seeds in the greenhouse, transplant, and help maintain the field experiment. They will collect and analyze data.
We seek undergraduates with a strong interest in agroecology, horticulture, plant ecology, or plant ecophysiology. Required qualifications include upper division coursework in one or more of the previously listed areas. Desired qualifications include experience with horticulture and/or in ecological field research. We seek students who can demonstrated they are well-organized, enthusiastic, creative, reliable, and can act independently (with direction).