September 13, 2019
About forty people took part in the public educational event that was held at the farm of Gary, Mari, and Daniel Martin just north of Mendota, CA on the 13th of September to tackle the very timely and important topics of soil health and climate-smart farming techniques. The event was held as part of the CDFA Healthy Soils Program project that a group of CASI Workgroup folks are conducting with the Martins and at the Five Points field station about 40 miles south. This project is monitoring and evaluating what happens to important soil health properties and functions as well as GHG emissions under the practices of cover cropping and compost amendment applications. For two years now, the Martins have been growing cover crops in the winter months as has been done in the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points. Gary Martin (DSC 6473) provided an overview of the goals and operations that he has implemented at his farm as well as some of the costs and challenges of the cover cropping practice. He estimated that his costs for doing cover crops are roughly $100 per acre each year. UCD Soils graduate student, Geoff Koch, (DSC 6480) shared with attendees the work that he has been conducting on soil health indicators and also GHG emissions from the farm comparison in Mendota and also at the field station in Five Points. His research is aimed at preparing an accounting of the relative GHG emissions that come from the different tillage and cover crop systems under evaluation in Five Points, the cover crop and compost systems in Mendota. Caddie Bergren, Emily Lovell, and Shulamit Shroder, three newly-hired coordinators with UC ANR and CDFA's Healthy Soils and SWEEP Programs, presented information to the assembled audience about how farmers can access support funding that can help enable on-farm demonstration evaluations of climate-smart and water use efficient techniques. In addition, the beginning steps toward a San Joaquin Valley cotton farmer network were discussed by participants and an initiative that is being prepared by the Soil Health Institute in NC along with prominent partners, Cotton Incorporated, the National Cotton Council, Wrangler, and the Walmart Foundation. More to come on this network during the coming months! More information about the event and the material that was presented is available in the summary of Major Points that is attached here.
September 8, 2019
In conjunction with CASI's public educational field day on soil health and climate-smart agriculture that will take place on Friday, September 13, 2019 at the farm of Gary and Mari Martin, the following online reference materials may be accessed that have relevance to the content of information that will be presented and discussed at the meeting.
Additional resources for Public Educational Field Day on Soil Health and Climate-Smart Agriculture Evaluations
September 13, 2019
“Future-proof your farm”
You Tube video by Pennsylvania farmer and cover crop expert, Steve Groff
You Tube video updates on the CIG Farmer Network Project that Jeff Mitchell talked about and that he offered as a possible model for what San Joaquin Valley cotton farmers might wish to consider developing
Friday, September 13, 2019
10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
We invite folks to an important information sharing opportunity at the Mendota, CA farm of Gary and Mari Martin on Friday, September 13th at 10:00 AM.
Work that is being done at their farm on soil health and climate-smart agriculture will be highlighted and discussed.
Information will be presented on the impacts of soil health management and opportunities for reducing GHG emissions.
A new farmer network aimed at providing opportunities for cotton farmers to share information on alternative crop production practices will also be explored.
Lunch will be provided and you'll have a good opportunity to learn and become better aware of locally-derived information on soil care and practices aimed at decreasing emissions.
Further information is available by calling or emailing Jeff Mitchell at (559) 303-9689 or firstname.lastname@example.org
August 27, 2019
Several CASI members recently stepped up to host Rick Reed, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Conservation Agriculture leader, at their farms over a three-day period of ambitious farm tours here in California from August 23rd through August 27th. Rick was the Extension County Director for Coffee County in south central GA during the time when considerable progress was made by local farmers on strip-tillage and cover crop systems for a range of crops that are grown in the region. He led a very results-oriented and highly dedicated team of farmers, NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation District partners, and other UGA colleagues including Sharad Pathak, in the development and expansion of conservation agriculture systems for their region. Much of their work spanned the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Rick was first, Coffee County's Extension Agent and later its Extension Director where he achieved the respect of countless farmers. He worked very closely and effectively with NRCS State Conservationist, Andy Page, and this duo made significant strides with the farmers that they worked with in advancing high residue, cover crop strip-tillage production practices throughout Central Georgia.
During his trip to California this summer, Rick and his wife, Candi, participated in the Acres USA soil health conference that was held on the UC Davis campus and they he visited several California farms to see up close and personal some of the innovations that are being worked on. First, he visited Scott Park up in Meridian, CA (Photo 1) and learned about Scott and Brian's nearly year-round cover cropping, sheep grazing and strip-till evaluation efforts. Following this farm visit, he enjoyed a wonderful lunch and discussion with Gene Miyao, Rich Collins, Dan Cohen, and Bob Bugg in Davis (Photo 2). Then, he was hosted by Justin Diener of Red Rock Ranch (Photo 3) and Scott Schmidt of Farming D down in Five Points and on the same day, Rick also went up to Firebaugh where he met Jesse Sanchez of Sano Farms (Photo 4). His travels to CA farms culminated with a very nice visit with Tom Willey and Jeff Mitchell to Phil Foster's farm over in Hollister (Photo 5) where year-round cover cropping, strip-tillage and use of a very innovative vertical tillage implement that Phil has modified after first borrowing a prototype developed by USDA ARS organic systems researcher, Eric Brennan, over in Salinas. All in all, Rick had some very wonderful farm stops during his California tour. We thank those CASI farmers who went out of their way to host him and we thank Rick for coming out to visit us!