- Author: Sarah Light
We are pleased to announce that we have two new advisors working on field crops in the Sacramento Valley. Mariano Galla is the new Agronomy and Weed Science Advisor serving Glenn, Butte, and Tehama counties. He is based in the Orland office. Sarah Light is the new Agronomy Advisor serving Sutter, Yuba, and Colusa counties. She is based in the Yuba city office. Brief bios of both are below. Welcome on board!
I was born and grew up in Italy. My grandfather was an agronomist and I spent almost all my summers helping him at “Pian del noce” (Walnut Flat), his farm in southern Tuscany where he grew grapes, olives, walnuts, and vegetables.
I studied Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florence, Italy and in 2010 I pursued a Master of Science Degree in Agriculture working at the department of plant pathology studying organic control of yellow leaf spot disease on vegetables. The same year, I moved to Australia where I worked for Agrisearch Services a contract research company. In the following four years, working from different location across Australia, I managed many field trials in a wide range of crops, ranging from cotton to sugarcane, but also almond and row crops.
In 2014, I moved to UC Davis to pursue a Ph.D. Degree in horticulture and agronomy, working under the supervision of Dr Brad Hanson and Dr Kassim Al-khatib. My Ph.D. project focus on rice herbicide drift on walnuts in the Sacramento Valley. I will be done with my doctorate by the end of this year.
I started in June as the new agronomy/weed science farm advisor for Glenn, Butte and Tehama counties, based at the UCCE Glenn office in Orland. I am working in small grains, corn, sunflower, cotton, alfalfa and dry beans. In addition, as a weed science advisor, I am also looking forward to working with horticultural and orchard crops. I can be reached by phone (530-865-1105) or email (email@example.com).
Tell us a little about yourself:
I've just moved back to California from Oregon for this position. I moved up to Oregon to for a dual master's program in Soil Science and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University. I was based at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Eastern Oregon where I conducted research projects in potato production systems. One project evaluated the impact of the accompanying anion (chloride vs. sulfate) from potassium fertilizer applications on nutrient content in potato plants, with a specific focus on the movement of chloride in the system. Another project evaluated the efficacy of essential oils and selective fertilizer application to manage Verticillium wilt, with the goal of finding alternatives to an expensive and increasingly regulated soil fumigant. I also worked as technician at the USDA Agricultural Research Service on a project that evaluated the impact of biochar application on soil water properties.
My background is a bit unique in that my first degree is in Latin American Studies with a minor in Spanish Literature, and I worked in various roles in the non-profit sector for 5 years after college, including as a professional event planner and fundraiser. I went down to Mendoza, Argentina to work on a small farm in 2010, and have been passionate about agriculture ever since. I was born and raised in the Bay Area and worked on urban farms and gardens there for several years before I started grad school. Also, I'm fluent in Spanish.
Why do you want to work with UC Cooperative Extension?
I enjoy doing applied research, solving problems, and working with people. I love science and agriculture. Extension gives me the opportunity to do work that I enjoy, while having a real impact.
What do you have planned for this year?
I look forward to developing a field crops research and education program that meets the needs of growers in the area, while continuing to protect our valuable natural resources. This year I'd like to meet as many farmers, CCAs, PCAs, and stakeholders as I can so that I can familiarize myself with the issues in the Sacramento Valley. My crop list includes alfalfa, beans, wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, sunflower, safflower, canola, as well as other small grains and pseudo-cereals.
Is there anything we can do to help you get settled?
Yes, I'd love the opportunity to come meet with you to discuss the issues you are facing on your farm! I'm glad to come out for a farm call so feel free to call (530-822-7515) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) me if any issues arise. I look forward to meeting you!