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Gary S Banuelos


Soil Scientist


9611 South Riverbend Avenue
Parlier, California 93648-9757

(559) 596-2880



Gary Banuelos is a plant/soil scientist at the USDA-ARS, Water Management Research Unit and adjunct professor at UC California and CSUFresnoUniversities in California. 


Dr. Banuelos was recognized as USDA-ARS Pacific West Area Senior Research Scientist of the year in 2016 for the "Development of alternate crops and bio-based products from phytoremediation strategies used on poor quality soils".


Dr. Banuelos began his work with the "green technology" with Professor H. Marschner in Germany, where he tested for radioactive vegetables contaminated from the Chernobyl disaster.  Fascinated by the ability of plants to take up contaminates and still survive, Banuelos focused his research activities on the phytoremediation of soils and waters laden with selenium, boron, and salinity in California. 




His integrated approach to field phytoremediation involves more than just the selection of crops, but also considers crop rotation, irrigation and drainage management, natural chemical transformations within the soil, production of alternative bio-based products, e.g., biofuel, Se-animal feeds, organic fertilizer/herbicides, and he strives for implementing his plant-based strategy worldwide. 



Current Research Project Summary:


 Develepment of  salt and boron tolerant prickly-pear fruit


Soils on the western side of central California contain naturally high levels of salt, boron, and selenium. Due to the high soil salt content and the unavailability of good quality water, normal irrigated agronomic crop production is on the decrease for this part of California.  For this reason, there is a strong need to identify alternative drought and salt resistant plants, i.e., cactus prickly pear fruit. For the last 5 years, research led by the incumbent at the Water Management Research Unit in conjunction with CSU Fresno and Red Rock Ranch, Five Points CA have evaluated numerous cactus cultivars of prickly pear from the Plant Introduction Station in Parlier, CA for their ability to tolerate soils high in salt, boron, and selenium. After a multi-year evaluation, they identified individual multi-colored fruit-producing cultivars that can survive excessive salinity and accumulate and volatilize selenium. After making new cuttings and establishing new plantlets under adverse soil conditions from the salt-tolerant spineless prickle-pear cultivars, the successful growth of new salt and boron tolerant cultivars (named Seleno-Green, Seleno-Purple, Seleno-Orange, Seleno-Red) were established and patented. Planting these newly-developed cultivars on the westside of central California may help growers consider the production of cactus prickly pear on some otherwise unproductive soils with minimum water.





Bachelor of Arts in German from California State University

Bachelor of Science in Crop Science and Master of Science in International Agriculture from California Poly Technical University

German Proficiency Certificates from Goethe Institute and from Middlebury College, Vermont Diploma in Plant Biology from the University of Tubingen, Germany

Doctorate in Agriculture/Plant Nutrition at Hohenheim University, Germany, as a National Science Foundation Fellow.