Conservation agriculture news
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.
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: http://bettercotton.org/about-better-cotton/regions/usa/
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.
Adar and Shoub have been touring and meeting with prospective partners throughout California and return to Israel by September 1st.
Contact Jeff Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like more information on the projects and technologies that were discussed in this tour and visit.