JUNE 10, 2019. BY BROOKS ESTES.
Dr. Matthew Johnson from the Wildlife Department at Humboldt State University (HSU) and his grad students have been studying the movement patterns and feeding habits of barn owls in Napa vineyards for several years. Nest box monitoring research has found that, on average, a family of two adult barn owls and four chicks consume over 1,000 rodents in the March-June nesting season, and GPS tracking has found that they spend about 34% of their time hunting in vineyards.
Brooks Estes, a master’s candidate in the Environment & Community Program at HSU, working under Dr. Johnson, is building on this research by examining how the use of barn owl boxes relates to the use of other pest management practices and general environmental values. This is an under-researched facet of vineyard pest management; most studies focus on strictly cost-benefit analyses or lump winegrowers in with all other agricultural producers. There is a perception that winegrowers fundamentally differ from other producers in how they perceive the environment and make pest management decision. This research hopes to provide some preliminary insights beyond existing anecdotal evidence that will work towards better informing sustainable outreach efforts and paint a more nuanced picture of sustainability in the California wine industry.
The Agricultural Research Institute of California State University and the Humboldt Area Foundation are contributing founding toward the creation and distribution of an online survey to address these questions.
The survey is anonymous, available to any winegrape grower in California, and will run through the end of June. The results of the survey research will be disseminated through participating regional associations this fall.
Please follow the link below to participate in the survey by June 30, 2019.
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