- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Farming in California has traditionally involved a series of preplant tillage operations, including disking, subsoiling, land planing, bed formation and dry mulching. The fifth installment of the Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation documentary details a viable alternative - a sub category of conservation agriculture known as "minimum tillage." The video is available today on the CASI website. (It is also posted below.)
"Tillage is the one situation the grower still can deal with,” Alan Wilcox, president of Wilcox Agri-Products, says in the video. “He can’t really affect the fertilizer price, the seed price, the herbicide price or the revenue he gets from his crop. But he still has a tremendous amount of control over how he tills his fields.”
Reducing the cost of production has motivated many farmers featured in the video to look into minimum tillage. For example, Mendota farmer Gary Martin said his operation has been able to reduce fuel consumption by a third with minimum tillage.
"Over the years, we've saved a tremendous amount of money just in fuel, but it also cut down in labor," Martin said.
Minimum tillage research findings provide further support to growers who may be interested in giving the new systems a try.
"What gets you there is a little confidence from a completely autonomous group like UC Davis, that are not persuaded by any other factors other than results and economics that make you feel comfortable about the size of your first endeavor," Wilcox said.
More information about minimum tillage will be available the annual Twilight Conservation Agriculture field day, to be held at 4 p.m. Sept. 13 at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center, 17353 W. Oakland Ave. in Five Points. To register, go to: http://ucanr.edu/TwilightRegistration. For more information about the field day, see the field day announcement.
All videos in the series are available on the documentary table of contents.