Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

Conservation agriculture news

Update on May/June farm visit series

July 24, 2016

CASI folks,

A final summary of the many lessons that surfaced during the five farm visits that were held back in May and June is now posted at the CASI website at

Additional farm demonstration evaluations are being established and we hope to have more opportunities to share this work in the near future.  If you are interested in becoming involved with the farm demonstration network, please contact us at (559) 303-9689.


Posted on Monday, July 25, 2016 at 8:31 AM

Sano Farms Farm Visit Video Now Available on You Tube and at the CASI Website

A short video summarizing some of the information that was provided at the June 24th farm visit to Sano Farms in Firebaugh, CA is now available at You Tube ( or at our CASI website (  We apologize that not more of the field day was captured, but we didn't do a very good job of audio capture that day and are sorry that we didn't collect better sound.

Posted on Monday, July 11, 2016 at 8:41 AM

Tom Willey's Radio Interview with CalCAN's Renata Brillinger and CASI's Jeff Mitchell

Tom Willey's "Down on the Farm" 88.1 FM KFCF Radio Interview with CalCAN's Renata Brillinger and CASI's Jeff Mitchell on California's GHG emissions offset programs and the California farm demonstration network


An audio archive of the KFCF 88.1 FM radio program of Tom Willey's "Down on the Farm" segment for July 1, 2016 that included interviews with CalCAN's Renata Brillinger and our own CASI's Jeff Mitchell is now posted at the CASI website.  This hour-long interview included discussion of the State's GHG emissions offset programs by Brillinger and information on our farm demonstration network from Mitchell.

The radio program can be heard by clicking on this link:


Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at 2:14 PM

CASI / UCCE / NRCS discuss California farm demo network with Doug Karlen

Meeting with Doug Karlen
Eight folks from NRCS, UCCE, and the CASI Workgroup met with Dr. Doug Karlen of the USDA ARS National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, IA on July 1st on the UC Davis campus to discuss the California farm demonstration network and to get ideas for improving the network as we move forward.  Karlen is a distinguished soil scientist at the National ARS Lab and has contributed a very large amount of research during his illustrious career to a range of soil quality topics and efforts.  He is a Fellow in each of the Tri-Societies, - the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America, and was also one of the very first scientists to begin discussion and work on the concept of soil quality, or more recently, the area of soil health.  

Karlen and Susan Andrews, who worked with him as a Post-Doc ecologist for several years before leading the early formation of the Soil Quality Institute with NRCS, have done quite a lot of work in California on soil quality and published several research papers on work they collaborated with California scientists on the topic based on work conducted in Five Points and Davis.  

Upon being introduced to our California farm demo network and its goals, Karlen offered a number of insights based on his own experience and familiarity with efforts similar to ours in other states.

  1. reach out to representatives in different areas that may have interest in what we're doing ("systems enhancement")
  2. make sure we emphasize "baseline, baseline, baseline" information gathering and data collection
  3. consider very carefully and thoughtfully how data generated from the effort will be organized, archived, available in a database  (there are a variety of data entry templates that Doug will send us leads on)
  4. consider approaching key private sector potential partners such as Monsanto (as in the Midwest Soil Health Partnerships effort
  5. consider partnering closely with appropriate ag-related groups and entities who can do better at 'driving' information events and at generating farmer participation and turnout
  6. consider involving what Doug termed "short-line" manufacturers in our programs and events (not necessarily the mega-companies, but smaller, affiliated companies)

Following the focused discussion, several folks continued their discussions with Karlen for a luncheon by the NRCS State Offices in downtown Davis.

We thank Doug Karlen for taking time to meet and talk with us.  It was most productive and helpful.

Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at 9:10 AM

UC Berkeley students sample soil microbiome in NRI field – June 29, 2016!

UC Berkeley students sample soil microbiome in NRI field
Three students, - led by Heidi Wipf, a graduate student working with a team of UC Berkeley researchers including Devin Coleman-Derr, Peggy Lemaux, and John Taylor, - endured the high temperatures of Five Points these past couple of days and completed an initial sampling of surface soils in the long-standing NRI Project field June 28 – 29.  Following an initial orientation to the study and its background and previous findings with Jeff Mitchell, the students completed the field sampling over the course of a full afternoon and a follow-up morning effort before leaving for other sites where they'll also be working this summer.  Mitchell promised cooler weather and a nice lunch at El Ranchero Café when the students return in August!

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 12:53 PM

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