Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
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Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

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CASI’s Munk and Mitchell host CDFA’s Morco at Five Points cover crop study sites

UC Cooperative Extension Fresno County Advisor, Dan Munk, and CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Sheila Morco, at the cover crop water use study site in Five Points, CAMunk and Morco

Veteran CASI Workgroup member Dan Munk along with Jeff Mitchell hosted Sheila Morco of CDFA's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for a site visit for the project,  Evaluation of Trade-Offs between Winter Cover Crop Production and Soil Water Depletion in San Joaquin Valley Row Crop Fields and Orchards, that a very large team of UC researchers, farmers, and other private sector partners is working on at 7 farms throughout the Central Valley.  Morco is the CDFA Grant Analyst who oversees the team's work.  In addition, UC Davis Hydrology students, Alyssa DeVincentis, Sloane Rice, and Anna Gomes took part in a televideo conference call portion of the visit and provided nice summaries of the data that they've been working to compile based on the project's monitoring activities.  This project is determining the biomass potential for cover crops, changes in soil water storage under these cover crops compared to fallow, and data on the carbon and nitrogen capture potential of cover crops so as to inform farmers of the true tradeoffs associated with this practice.  There is considerable uncertainty surrounding cover crop water use and this has been an impediment to their wider adoption.  Additional information stemming from this CDFA SCBGP Project will be shared at the upcoming major educational training event that will take place in Five Points on June 6th

Posted on Friday, April 28, 2017 at 1:19 PM

Better Cotton Initiative Leaders Visit Five Points NRI Project Field – March 28, 2017

Scott Exo (left) US Country Manager for BCI and Carlos Silva (right) USA Program Officer

The US Manager of BCI, the Better Cotton Initiative, Scott Exo, and BCI's San Joaquin Valley Coordinator, Carlos Silva, visited the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points, CA on March 28, 2017 as part of a tour hosted by CASI's Jeff Mitchell.  BCI is a not-for-profit organization that encourages a holistic approach to sustainable and brings together people who are involved in cotton's complex supply chain, - from farmers to retailers.  Initiated in 2005, BCI exists to make global cotton production “better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector's future, by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.”  Exo and Silva visited the NRI Project field to learn about the work that has been done over the years on cotton production in this field using no-tillage and cover crop practices and the benefits that stem from the use of these approaches in lower costs, fewer dust emissions, greater carbon and nitrogen storage in the soil, increased soil aggregation and water infiltration, reduced soil water evaporation, and other positive changes in soil biology that have been documented since the project was started in 1999.  They also discussed with Mitchell the California Farm Demonstration Network, a broad group of partners who are working throughout the State on establishing local farm demonstrations of improved performance, conservation ag, climate-smart and healthy soils systems, and BCI's potential involvement in the network as a partner.

Better Cotton Initiative website:



Posted on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 8:42 AM

CASI meets with California Almond Board

CASI’s Mitchell (center) flanked by Gabriele Ludwig, Jenny Nicolau, Spencer Cooper, and Carissa Sauer.(from left to right).

CASI Chair, Jeff Mitchell, participated in an introductory idea exchange meeting on October 11th with seven representatives of the California Almond Board at their headquarters in Modesto, CA. The meeting provided an opportunity for CASI and the Almond Board to learn about each other's ongoing educational programming and also to exchange ideas related to the California farm demonstration network and other farmer networks that have been developed around the country. The Almond Board has very active farmer education initiatives in place on a number of fronts. This meeting laid the groundwork for possible collaborative efforts between the Board's over 6000 California farmers and CASI's network of farmer, private sector, University, NRCS, and RCD partners.

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 10:21 AM

Fresno Farm Advisor Dan Munk hosts TKI Crop Vitality at NRI Project Field in Five Points

Dan Munk (light blue shirt and wide-brimmed hat at left) hosts Steve Vasquez’s TKI Crop Vitality at the long-term NRI Project study site in Five Points, CA
Veteran UCCE soil, water and cotton Advisor, Dan Munk, of Fresno County, hosted a group of sixteen agronomists who work with the international fertilizer company, TKI Crop Vitality, at the long-term NRI Project study site in Five Points, CA on Friday, October 14th as part of a California tour organized by former UCCE Advisor and currently TKI regional agronomist, Steve Vasquez. Munk shared with the group the research history of the NRI study and provided an overview discussion on water issues in California. The group's visit coincided with the 2016 harvest of grain sorghum that was conducted by local Riverdale, CA farmer, Connor McKean of McKean Farms.  
Sorghum grain harvest conducted by Riverdale, CA farmer, Connor McKean, at NRI Project study site on October 14, 2016
Preliminary findings for the 2016 sorghum crop indicate that there were no statistically significant differences between any of the four tillage and cover crop systems this year with yields being about 6100 lbs or 108 bushels per acre. Following last week's harvest intercrop tillage was conducted in the standard tillage systems ahead of cover crop seeding during the coming week in both the standard and no-till cover cropped systems. 

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2016 at 8:48 AM

CASI hosts Israeli entrepreneurs at NRI Project site in Five Points

Roi Adar and Yofesh Shoub of Israel.
Two Israeli entrepreneurs, Roi Adar, Deputy Director of AutoAgronom Israel Ltd. And Yofesh Shoub, of the Ministry of Agriculture, met with CASI researcher, Jeff Mitchell, on Sunday afternoon, August 28th at the long-term NRI Project site in Five Points to discuss opportunities for collaboration related to a number of technologies that AutoAgronom Israel is developing. In addition, the visitors participated in a tour of local farming areas before adjourning to Sal's Mexican Restaurant in Selma for a dinner discussion.

Adar and Shoub have been touring and meeting with prospective partners throughout California and return to Israel by September 1st.

Contact Jeff Mitchell at if you'd like more information on the projects and technologies that were discussed in this tour and visit.


Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 8:19 AM

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