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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 desert environments.

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.



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 deserts
Initiate and expand linkages with other stakeholders in desert agriculture
Attract support for programmatic activities through grants, contracts, donations, and endowments


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:

Plant Sciences
Biotechnology, Crop Improvement, Cultural Practices, New Crops Development, Marketing/Economics

Pest and Disease Sciences
Exotic Pests, Diseases, Vegetation Management, Integrated Pest Management Systems

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
e-mail: michael.stanghellini@ucr.edu


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    University of California, Riverside 
        College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences