Longtime UC Santa Cruz researcher Joji Muramoto will lead statewide program to support organic growers

By vast

Published: May 27, 2019

Category: Organic News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter

For the first time, the University of California has hired a Cooperative Extension specialist dedicated to organic agriculture.

Joji Muramoto, a longtime research associate with the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), will coordinate a statewide program focused on the organic production of strawberries and vegetables.

Muramoto is highly regarded for the depth of his knowledge of soil science and for his pioneering contributions to the organic production of strawberries—a high-value crop that is notoriously vulnerable to pests and soil-borne disease. He will have a joint affiliation with UC’s Cooperative Extension (CE) and the Environmental Studies Department and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at UCSC.

CE specialists serve as liaisons between the university and the agricultural sector, building research programs that align with the needs of farmers and conducting collaborative on-farm studies that address problems growers are facing.

“I’m honored and humbled to have this position,” said Muramoto, who plans to focus on soil fertility and the organic management of soil-borne diseases. In his position as assistant specialist, he looks forward to expanding his reach statewide and to coordinating short courses on organic pest management and organic soil fertility management.

CASFS Director Daniel Press said the establishment of an organic specialist is long overdue—and that Muramoto was an excellent choice.

“This is highly visible, public recognition of the significance of agroecology and organic agriculture,” said Press. “It signals to the community of organic growers that we are a partner with them. They know this is for them, and they really love it.”

UC Santa Cruz has played a vital role in the flourishing of organic farming on the Central Coast and beyond, through undergraduate education, training provided by the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, CASFS, and faculty research projects, many of which Muramoto supported in his capacity as a research associate. Thirty percent of agriculture in Santa Cruz County is certified organic, said Press, who called the figure “astonishing.”

Source: University of California Santa Cruz

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