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Agriculture briefs

SRJC talks focus on sustainable agriculture

Local pioneers in sustainable agriculture will tell stories of innovation Jan. 30 at Santa Rosa Junior College’s second annual inov8 speaker series.

The free, TED-inspired talks will feature Nick Papadopoulos, co-founder of CropMobster; Jennifer Lynn Bice, owner of Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery; Kathleen Inman, owner and winemaker of Inman Family Wines; and Chris Benziger, partner at Benziger Family Winery.

The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Newman Auditorium at the college’s Santa Rosa campus. A video simulcast will be shown at the Carole L. Ellis Auditorium at the Petaluma campus.

Parking permits are required at both locations and cost $4.

The series is sponsored by the SRJC Foundation and the college’s Entrepreneurship Program.

Citrus pest found in Ojai Valley

The Asian citrus psyllid, a pest that can carry the citrus greening disease, has been found in Ojai Valley.

The insect was discovered last month in a tangerine tree on a residential lot next to commercial citrus orchards.

Citrus greening has no cure and threatens California’s $1.8 billion citrus industry. The psyllid most recently has been found in Tulare, Kern and Fresno counties.

The actual disease has been found in only one tree in California in Los Angeles. However, in Florida the disease is blamed for the loss of more than 6,600 jobs and $1.3 billion in lost grower revenue.

State agriculture officials are using pesticides to treat the Ojai Valley trees where the psyllid was found and at nearby properties. Commercial growers have said they would treat their own trees.

Farm sales remain strong in 2013

Sales of agricultural land finished strong in 2013, spurred by farmers’ demand for additional land, according to Farmers National Company.

The Omaha, Neb., farm and ranch real estate firm reported a record $750 million in land deals during 2013, up from $640 million in 2012.

While land prices have stabilized after double-digit price increases in recent years, levels remain at historical highs. Prices per acre for high-quality land range nationwide from $3,500 to as high as $13,000 per acre in areas of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.

“Farms remained profitable in 2013 despite lower commodity prices, in part due to reductions in fertilizer expenses of nearly 30 percent,” Randy Dickhut, vice president of real estate operations, said in a statement. “This is prompting farm owners to continue buying premium land to expand their operations.”

Staff and wire reports. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com

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