Nearly one year ago, Yara North America announced its Almond Scholarship Initiative in California. Since then the participating school – University of California, Merced – and the 2016-2017 scholarship recipients have been identified.
Gary Vogen, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, and Brian Kenyon, Vice President U.S. Western Region Sales & Marketing, travelled to Merced in central California for discussion with key faculty, staff and students about the challenges facing agricultural communities and our growers, as well as collaboration opportunities.
“This campus,” said Brian, “is truly focused on bringing the brightest possibilities of the future into use by capturing the vision of the Silicon Valley and combining research with practical applications. It is a state of the art, cutting edge facility which can help Yara improve its focus on water use and nutrient efficiencies in almonds and other crop production.”
Florence Lucy, who received Yara’s undergraduate Almond Scholarship, presented to the visitors a summary of her project on nitrogen soil movement from organic and inorganic sources, which could increase the understanding of nutrient sources and their interactions. This could provide insight into improving nutrient use efficiency in crops and the reduction of nutrients entering into groundwater.
Also visited was the campus’ Mechatronics, Embedded Systems & Automation Lab to see the work being developed for water sensing and plant health in almonds using UAVs. Yara’s Almond Fellowship recipient, Tiebiao Zhao, provided an overview of his research to spatially map almond tree water stress using this technology.
Yara North America made a three-year commitment to UC Merced with its graduate fellowship and undergraduate scholarship programs. In addition to awarding scholarships, Exploring collaborative opportunities between Yara and University of California, Merced potential opportunities exist between the two entities for;
• Possible pairing of Yara’s global research team with the innovation leaders and concepts on the UC Merced campus
• Incorporating Yara’s Ph.D. agronomist, perhaps, into the campus’ Sierra Nevada Research Institute to help evaluate projects for future benefits to growers and for Yara crop solutions.
• Developing internship programs to expose students to Yara and to elevate Yara’s mission, vision and values to the forefront of the student community, creating a pathway for potential employee development
• Participating in UC Merced’s Innovate to Grow competition through the School of Engineering
While the commitment is for three years on paper, the potential for impact within Yara and agricultural communities is far greater.
“By exploring and expanding this relationship,” said Gary, “we really get a chance to frame the questions that we want answered for the future.