On June 24, 2016, about 40 visitors came to the public field day at Sano Farms in Firebaugh, CA and learned about the innovative, climate-smart, and reduced disturbance production systems that they have developed over the past 13 or so years for processing tomatoes. In the fall of each year, Sano and Sanchez grow a cover crop mix that consists of several species. They are now thinking of planting the cover crop flat, without beds. In the following spring, they come in with a 5-row (25 ft wide) cover crop roller that cuts and crimps that standing cover crop and knocks it down on the surface of the soil. They then run a Wilcox-Agriproducts Roller-Cutter implement that cuts the cover crop into pieces. Finally, they use a Wilcox-Agriproducts Performer reduced pass implement to reshape their tomato planting beds ahead of tomato transplanting. They unveiled the 25-ft wide cover crop roller and talked about a variety of soil improvements that they've seen as a result of the practices that they now employ. For instance, fertilizer inputs have been reduced by about half since they've been on this management program.
A video summarizing the farm visit with Tom Willey of T & D Willey Farms, a 75-acre organic farm in Madera, CA is posted below. In the video, Tom discusses his farm's goals for soil health and he describes how he achieves these goals through the practices he uses at the farm. More Conservation Tillage videos are available at the following website: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVd3wKF3P6fA4zQWVKIouWA
Darrell Cordova and his son, Trevor, hosted a farm visit tour group that was part of the California Farm Demonstration Network at their farm on June 9th in Denair, CA and provided a complete overview of the goals and management approaches they use for their diverse almond and walnut tree crop acreage as well as their no-till winter forage and summer corn crops that they grow under a 135-acre center pivot for a nearby dairy. You can see the half-hour video summary of the field day below or go to the You Tube link https://youtu.be/JYl_J1ZnfDA .
The Cordova's discussed their commitment to efficiencies of all sorts including with water, nutrients and labor. They are extremely conscientious in their use of sampling and data for all their management decisions and shared with participants how they've not only managed to be extremely careful with all the inputs they provide to their crops, but also that they have seen their production systems provide ever-increasing yields at lower costs over the years. The coupled benefits they now have achieved from use of their highly precise center pivot irrigation system for the silage crops with their no-till planting systems that preserve surface residues, have allowed them to not only completely reduce water runoff from their rolling hill topography, but to also actually cut down their typical seasonal water application volumes from the typical 3 acre-feet to closer to about 2 acre-feet in recent years.
A video summarizing the farm visit that took place at Lone Willow Ranch with farmer host, John Teixeira, of Firebaugh, CA is available at the You Tube link below. This farm visit was the first in a series of five visits that are hosted by Central Valley farmers as part of this segment of the California Farm Demonstration Network's public education events throughout May and June of 2016. Each visit features a pioneering California farmer talking and sharing information about what his or her general farm and soil care goals are and how they are achieving them. In addition, farm visit participants will have the opportunity to learn about and contribute to actual baseline monitoring related to key soil functions as part of the educational program.