Sustained by irrigation water, California's desert communities support
a year-round agricultural industry. An astounding variety of crops--from lettuce
and broccoli to citrus fruit and dates--is produced in regions that regularly
top the nation's daily high-temperature listings. For example, the Imperial,
Palo Verde and Coachella Valleys combined produce more than 90 percent of the
country's winter vegetables, all of California's dates and nearly all of the
state's winter grapefruit.
While being highly productive, desert agriculture also faces serious
challenges now and in the future. Invading pests such as the Silverleaf Whitefly
and the Red Imported Fire Ant, diseases such as vine-decline of melons,
decreasing water availability and increasing salinity levels, and lack of crop
diversity have serious economic impacts on desert agriculture.
Desert agriculture encompasses both production and aesthetic/amenity
interests, and implicitly includes the relationship of agriculture to the
environment and natural resources.
For almost 50 years, the University of California at Riverside (UCR)
has provided research to address the needs of desert agriculture. UCR has
coalesced its expertise into a new initiative--the Agricultural Research
Institute for Deserts (ARID)--to stimulate the economic growth and contribute to
the long-term viability of agriculture through basic and applied research in
ARID aims to serve both rural and urban environments, including growers, the
agricultural industry, commodity groups, agencies, public policy
decision-makers, and the general public.
The Agricultural Research Institute for Deserts
promotes interdisciplinary research, service, and educational programs
on sustainable and integrated practices that enhance
the long-term viability of desert agriculture.
OBJECTIVES OF THE INSTITUTE
The objectives of ARID are diverse and representative of the University
of California's mission of research, education and service to the State of
California. These objectives are to:
|Foster and coordinate interdisciplinary programs on agricultural issues of
particular concern in desert environments
|Convene and coordinate rapid response teams to address new or developing
agricultural problems in desert environments
|Function as an outlet for transfer of technology and information to the
public on issues relating to desert agriculture
|Serve as a focal point for research, service, and educational programs in
|Initiate and expand linkages with other stakeholders in desert agriculture
|Attract support for programmatic activities through grants, contracts,
donations, and endowments|
PROGRAMMATIC FOCI OF ARID
The objectives of ARID are addressed by campus-based faculty at UCR.
ARID is staffed to fulfill the Institute's goals in the following critical
action areas which face individuals, businesses, organizations, and agencies in
desert agricultural communities:
Biotechnology, Crop Improvement, Cultural Practices, New Crops Development,
Pest and Disease Sciences
Exotic Pests, Diseases, Vegetation Management, Integrated Pest Management
Environment and Natural Resources
Water Management (quality and quantity), Environmental Policy &
Management, Biological Systems (conservation biology), Soil (quality and
management/conservation), Atmosphere (air quality)
UCR's geographic location and expertise make it uniquely capable of
addressing many of the research and education demands of desert agriculture and
to work cooperatively with expertise on other campuses and county Cooperative
Extension operations in the UC system to provide comprehensive coverage of
desert agriculture needs.
Three field stations support desert agricultural research: the 540-acre
Coachella Valley Agricultural Research Station (CVARS) located 80 miles
southeast of the UCR campus in Thermal, the 255-acre Desert Research and
Extension Center in the Imperial Valley near Holtville, and the 420-acre Citrus
Research Center and Agricultural Experiment Station (CRC-AES) that is adjacent
to the UCR campus in Riverside. UCR has state-of-the-art quarantine facilities
for both insects and nematodes as a resource for research efforts. Also located
on the campus is the U.S. Salinity Laboratory (USSL), operated by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.
UCR is home to several significant collections, including the Citrus Variety
Collection and the USDA's National Repository for Citrus and Dates. Germplasm
collections form an invaluable reservoir of genetic diversity of agriculturally
important crops and native plant species. Additionally, the UCR Herbarium, with
its collection of dried plants, is a clearinghouse for information regarding
plant species. UCR also houses one of the largest botanic gardens in California.
Dr. Michael E. Stanghellini, Director
Agricultural Research Institute for Deserts
234B Fawcett Laboratory
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-3407
fax: (909) 787-4294