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To provide Cal Poly students, faculty, staff and the public with a unique interdisciplinary environment in which to foster the Learn by Doing philosophy by providing educational experiences on a working ranch, supporting diversified agriculture and forest resources while maintaining the integrity of ranch operations.

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Projects and Research

Flow to Abstraction Wells in the Multi-Layered Aquifer System Underlying Lower Scotts Creek

In coastal California watersheds with threatened or endangered anadromous salmonid populations, the adverse effects that groundwater abstraction can have on aquatic environments are a serious concern. Since groundwater abstraction can cause streamflow depletion, understanding the hydraulic connectivity between streams and aquifers is critical to effectively manage water resources for societal needs and ecological conservation. This study investigates the potential impacts that groundwater abstraction from several agricultural irrigation wells has on lower Scotts Creek stream flows by characterizing the underlying alluvial aquifer and by quantifying the hydraulic connection between the stream and aquifer. To achieve the objectives of this research, we characterized the alluvial aquifer by estimating its hydraulic properties from a series of pumping tests and permeameter tests, calculated changes in hyporheic exchange and stream transient storage by measuring changes in the concentration of a fluorescent dye tracer injected in the stream, and determined the correlation between stream stage and aquifer heads by passively monitoring water levels in piezometers and wells. 

Contact: Devin Pritchard-Peterson


Evaluation of Apple Cultivars and Yeast Strains for Hard Cider Production

In the last decade, consumption of hard cider has rapidly increased in the United States. Traditional hard cider is produced from cider apples; however, the availability of "true" cider apples in the US is limited. The goal of the project is to use California grown apple cultivars to produce quality hard cider. The objectives of the project are to: 1) determine chemical characteristics of 14 apple varietals grown at Cal Poly's Swanton Pacific Ranch, 2) produce cider from a selected varietal or apple blend 3) evaluate juice and yeast selection on cider quality. This research will allow cider makers sourcing apples from California to better determine optimal apple varietals or blends of varietals for production of quality cider. Cider makers will also have additional information regarding the selected yeast strains that should aid in producing a high quality cider with desired sensory characteristics.

Contact: Dr. Amanda Lathrop -

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Post Fire Updates
Blog posts with news about Ranch recovery

Organic U-Pick Apple Orchard...
CLOSED due to CZU Lightning Complex Fire devastation.
Posted September 4, 2020

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