Presentation by Jeff Mitchell at the National Strip-Till Farmer Association Conference
August 2, 2019
A You Tube video of the presentation that CASI's Jeff Mitchell made on the evolution of strip-tillage in California cropping systems may be viewed at https://www.striptillfarmer.com/articles/3237-video-changing-the-production-landscape-with-smarter-strip-till-practices. Over 300 largely Midwestern farmers took part in this meeting including about six folks from CA.
April 27, 2019
The “cover crop that was almost not planted” until very late last December 2018 due to persistent rains and wet conditions, turned out to be an award-winner this month with truly impressive growth and cover. The CDFA Healthy Soils Project field that Vincent Andreotti has been working on with UCCE Advisors, Amber Vinchesi-Vahl and Sarah Light, along with neighbor farmer mentors, Scott and Brian Park, receives the top recognition in the ‘beautiful sight' category of this year's cover crop ratings. Couched within view of the famed Sutter Buttes, Andreotti's vetch cover crop provides a stunning example of cover cropping as a means to improve soil function – the approach that is being evaluated by Vinchesi-Vahl and Light as part of their Healthy Soils Project monitoring. Biomass and % nitrogen data are not yet in from the two UCCE Advisors who've been spearheading the study's evaluation, but the Andreotti field takes this spring's ‘beautiful sight' recognition “hands-down”, according to UC project partner, Jeff Mitchell, who had the good fortune to see the field on April 15th. “Yes, the ‘beautiful sight' category is a bit of a sticky one,” Mitchell acknowledged. “But if you were out there to see it, you'd surely know why this field so richly deserves this designation and recognition.” Congratulations go out to Vincent Andreotti up in Sutter County!
*”Beautiful sight” category for California cover crops 2019
August 15, 2019
Mike Titley and David Vernon, two vegetable farming consultants and farmer network coordinators in Australia, had a wonderful visit on August 15th with Jesse Sanchez in Firebaugh and Phil Foster in Hollister, after having first met and toured CASI's NRI Project field in Five Points. They were quite keen to meet Sanchez and Foster and to dig into their soils and see the simply spectacular crops that both are producing this summer. The two of them work with a very wide-ranging group of Australian vegetable farmers literally all across the vast country who themselves are working on developing some of the very same new, reduced disturbance and cover crop-based systems that our CIG group in CA is working on. To say that they were “blown away” by the very impressive crops and soils that they saw at both Phil's and Jesse's farms would be an understatement. I know that they both very much appreciated the very kind and generous hosting that Phil and Jesse provided.
It is becoming very interesting and reinforcing, I think, to see and meet people from various places who're quite keen and interested in what we are all doing in the CIG effort. Titley and Vernon were in particular interested in our group's strip-till vegetable efforts and how we are proceeding in this general direction. They'll be joining our CIG Collaborative Tools network and may have things to ask about and share in the future. Meanwhile, sincere thanks go out to Phil Foster and Jesse Sanchez for their very gracious and kind hosting of Mike Titley and David Vernon!
August 13, 2019
Samuel Araya is a new PhD at UC Merced! On August 13, 2019, in the Science and Engineering 2 building on the UCM campus, he successfully defended his PhD research before a review committee of four professors and about thirty well-wishers who took part in the public seminar part of his defense. Very hearty “Congratulations” go out to Dr. Samuel Araya on this wonderful and very well-earned accomplishment!
For the past five or so years, Dr. Araya has worked with his mentor professor, Dr. Teamrat Ghezzehei, on a very wide range of quite interesting topics that have addressed soil hydraulic properties and function, machine learning models, conservation agriculture management impacts on soil structure and water relations, as well as modelling of landscape hydrology using UAS and machine learning. The seminar that he presented and the sheer body of work that he has completed were most impressive and he received a very nice recognition by the assembled audience following his research overview presentation.
Both Drs. Araya and Ghezzehei have worked on CASI's NRI Project field in Five Points, CA during the past few years and one of the three areas of work that were reported on by Dr. Araya included a summary of this work. For CASI folks who are familiar with the NRI Project, let me just say that there are going to be some very interesting findings that will be released in the very near future stemming from this work of Araya and Ghezzehei.
August 8, 2019
Right off an intensive two-month internship with South Dakota Hall of Famer, Dwayne Beck, University of Bordeaux agricultural engineering student, Mazarine Foustel, took part in a whirlwind tour of a number of California agricultural sites and met with a number of CASI Workgroup members on August 8th before heading off to the Grand Canyon and her return to France later this month (Figure 1). Foustel is from Brittany in western France where her family has a dairy farm. She searched out the internship with Dwayne Beck through his worldwide reputation in conservation and regenerative agriculture and because of the huge impact he has had on improving food production systems around the world. While at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm these past two months with Beck and his team, Foustel conducted a wide range of duties including helping with the daily moving of cattle that have been integrated into Beck's cropping system research and also learning about how Beck and farmers in his area have been working to implement soil care practices now for several decades.
While in California, she stayed initially with a family in Sacramento that had first hosted her back when she was in high school. Then, she took part in an ambitious tour with CASI's Jeff Mitchell that included visits to the UC Davis campus and the field laboratory site that is being prepared for this fall's PLS111 agronomy students (Figure 2), the Century Experiment at the site of the Long-term Research on Agricultural Sustainability just west of campus (Figure 3), a very nice visit with CASI farmer, Rich Collins at his farm southwest of Davis (Figure 4), and then Mitchell hosted her a few days later down at the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA. While in Five Points, she also visited the local West Side San Joaquin Valley farms of CASI Workgroup members, John and Justin Diener and Scott Schmidt, and saw broadacre farm processing tomato and garlic harvests underway. We thank Mazarine Foustel for spending time with us a we wish her all the very best as she now returns to France to complete her studies!