California State Seal

News Release

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contacts: Steve Lyle (CDFA), 916-654-0462 ,

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #21-137
Print This Release



SACRAMENTO, October 25, 2021 – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is announcing $4.14 million in grant funding to agricultural organizations and universities.
The funding includes $3 million for the University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources (UCANR) to conduct targeted nitrogen and irrigation education and training in California’s Central Valley and Central Coast and $1.14 million for five research and education projects to advance California growers’ understanding and implementation of improved nitrogen and irrigation management practices. 
Summary of Funded Projects:  

Targeted Nitrogen and Irrigation Education and Training in California’s Nitrate Impacted Regions

Doug Parker and Khaled Bali – UCANR

This project has been awarded $3 million to hire six extension personnel whose work will be devoted to administering on-farm demonstrations and interactive trainings and workshops in nitrogen and irrigation management. These extension personnel will collaborate with local grower coalitions to focus resources on high-priority areas, crops and growers, as determined by nitrogen reporting data. Additionally, personnel will work with growers to gain their perspective on the irrigation and nutrient needs of their individual operations and assist them with addressing those needs. 

Nitrogen Fertilizer and Irrigation Best Management Practices for Low Desert Sudangrass Production Systems

Oli Bachie – University of California Cooperative Extension, San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties

This $243,331 project will develop improved nitrogen and irrigation management strategies for sudangrass production in the low desert region, which is the top sudangrass-producing region in California with over 50,000 acres. The improved management strategies developed by this project will help growers reduce nitrogen loss to the environment and produce a high-yielding forage crop with a desirable nutritive value. 

Quantify and Model Overlooked Pathways of Nitrogen Loss from Organic Inputs Across Contrasting Soil Types

Timothy Bowles and Hannah Waterhouse – University of California, Berkley; Eric Brennan – U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service; Bhavna Arora – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

With $223,568 awarded, this project aims to assist growers and agricultural consultants on the Central Coast with determining the right time and rate for compost applications in specific soil types, while preserving groundwater quality. Field work, lab incubations, column experiments and ecosystem modeling will be used to evaluate the impacts of compost applications on nitrogen cycling and loss. Results from this project will help inform both organic and conventional growers how to properly apply compost to support their production goals while minimizing nitrogen losses. 

Nutrient Management and Irrigation Efficiency Outreach and Education for Latino and Southeast Asian Farmers

Carmen Carrasco and Tom Stein – American Farmland Trust

Many underserved farmers and farm workers need irrigation and nitrogen management information and technical assistance services. This project has been awarded $229,981 to overcome language barriers and other access challenges for some farmers. The applicants will deliver on-farm tailgates, business development trainings and radio broadcasts to increase the adoption of best management practices. Efforts will be carried out in counties in the Central Valley and Central Coast and will target Latino and Southeast Asian Farmers. 

Distributed Water and Fertilizer Delivery for Minimizing Nitrogen Losses by Leaching and Volatilization

Teamrat Ghezzehei and Tapan Pathak – University of California, Merced; Khaled Bali – UCANR 
This $218,941 project will test a novel nitrogen and irrigation management application strategy. Utilizing two lines of drip irrigation to decouple the distribution of nutrients and water to the crop, this strategy addresses one of the major pathways of nitrogen loss: leaching. Results from this project will provide growers with a scalable approach to meeting crop nutrient and irrigation requirements while reducing nitrogen losses. 

Optimizing Nitrogen Fertilizer Concentrations in Vegetable Transplant Production

Lorence Oki and Bruno Pitton – University of California, Davis; Don Merhaut – University of California, Riverside

This project has been awarded $224,691 to determine optimal nitrogen concentrations for the top five vegetable transplant crops in California. Researchers will measure nitrogen uptake and water use to fine tune nitrogen fertilization guidelines for vegetable transplant producers. Guidelines developed through this project will help growers increase nitrogen-use efficiency and economic profitability, while maintaining high quality yields. 


Each year since 1990, FREP has funded research, demonstration and education projects related to the environmentally safe and agronomically sound use and handling of fertilizing materials. Visit the FREP Grant Program webpage to learn how to apply for funding and visit the FREP Research & Project Database to see how these research projects are available, understandable and convenient for growers to implement.

CDFA Protects
Follow CDFA News on Twitter and Facebook
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814