What is in this article?:
- Tree nut farm advisor Gurreet Brar earned his Ph.D. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida, Gainesville.
- Almonds are grown on nearly 246,000 acres of land in Fresno and Madera counties in California.
- While almonds continue to be a popular tree nut for global markets, pistachios grown in California are making significant gains in acres planted and commercial popularity worldwide.
Gurreet Brar is the newest tree nut farm advisor to join the University of California Cooperative Extension team of tree nut specialists in the San Joaquin Valley.
Communicating with growers
One of Brar’s hobbies while in college in India was acting. This exposed him to various forms of communication, which piqued his interest and desire to help communicate with farmers.
While at PAU he and a friend discussed their interest in interviewing successful growers. They went on to interview 20 successful growers about innovations they used to increase the size of their operations and improve yields.
“This was an incredible learning experience,” he said
This led to a weekly column in a local newspaper and the understanding that PAU’s own cooperative extension service would become an important link for growers in the region to obtain the latest information to help them with their crops.
Through his work in India, and now with the UCCE, Brar believes that by seeking out the early innovators of various technologies and agricultural practices, and by working with them to achieve greater success with it, he can expand the adoption rate of better technologies and agronomic practices throughout the farming community.
“Through this kind of communication, if the farmer is doing good things you can share this and increase the adoption rate of that technology,” he said.
Much of what he saw in northern India with the advancement of technologies and agricultural practices mirrors what is happening today in California. More intensive farming and the use of fertilizers and ag chemicals carries with it unintended consequences and challenges.
According to Brar, insecticide resistance issues, human and plant disease, poor regulations and understanding of them all are some of the challenges faced in Punjab. He believes these challenges may exist in the United States.
“We can speculate on the impacts of intensive agriculture,” he said. “But I think we can still realize benefits from intensive agriculture with regulations and enforcement.”
Other issues Punjabi farmers experienced that are evident in California include depleted water sources and water contamination. Brar hopes to have a positive impact there too. For instance, he says, “you can reduce nitrogen use in your orchard if you already have increased nitrogen in your well water.”
One of the global challenges that excites Brar is the idea of feeding a growing world population without increasing the land space dedicated to agriculture.
“We cannot bring more land into agriculture,” he said. “We have a tremendous opportunity to produce more from the land we are already using.”
He continued: “As a researcher, making connections with the developing world is something I look forward to.”
It is that desire to communicate with growers and others that drives Brar.
“This is what led me to take this job,” he said. “There are growers out there who need to be educated, and my goal is to come up with multiple means to reach them.”
Growers who want to work with Brar on trials, or who need to reach him regarding issues in their orchards can contact him at (559) 241-7526 or via email at email@example.com.
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