January 20, 2022
Undergraduate student, Jennifer Valdez-Herrera, took home the first prize award in this year's student poster competition of the California Weed Science Society that was held January 19th - 21st at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sacramento, CA. Her poster titled, Potential of roller-crimper technology for weed suppression in annual crops, reported on the first four years of a study that has been conducted on the Fresno State campus under a center pivot irrigation system. The rolled cover crops are followed by strip-tillage planted silage corn. Five mixes, rye, an ultra high diversity mix from Green Cover Seed in Bladen, NE, a multiplex mix from Lockwood Seed and Grain in Chowchilla, CA, a faba bean and Phacelia combination, and a three-way mix of rye, peas, and purple vetch are replicated three times in about 300 foot strips throughout the field. A copy of Valdez-Herrera's poster is provided below and a short 56-second video showing the current stage of growth of the 2021 - 2022 cover crops may be seen at
January 20, 2022
Year 5 of a major cover crop roller crimper study is underway on the Fresno State campus in the school's center pivot field under the monitoring supervision of Dr. Anil Shrestha and his undergraduate student research assistant, Jennifer Valdez-Herrera and graduate student, Robert Wilmott. The project repeats five cover crop mix treatments (rye, an ultra high diversity mix provided by Green Cover Seed of Bladen, NE, a Multiplex mix of Lockwood Seed and Grain in Chowchilla, CA, a two-species mix of faba bean and Phacelia, and a three-way mix of rye, peas, and purple vetch. A short, 49-second video showing Valdez-Herrera and Wilmott and the stage of growth of the cover crops on January 20, 2022 can be viewed at the You Tube link
December 28, 2021
KMJ580's Don York, who produces the daily “Ag Report” on the Fresno-based radio station, interviewed Alyssa DeVincentis and Jeff Mitchell about work they and a larger team of researchers at UC Davis conducted on water-related impacts of winter cover crops throughout the Central Valley. The interview aired at 5:05 AM on York's Tuesday, December 28th, broadcast and can be heard by clicking on the link here below.
The work that DeVincentis and Mitchell summarized with York involved ten almond orchard and tomato field sites in which side-by-side comparisons of soil water content during the winter cover cropping period from November through March were conducted from 2017 through 2019. The study sites spanned San Joaquin Valley sites in Arvin, Shafter, Five Points, and Merced, as well as Sacramento Valley locations in Davis, Durham, Orland, and Chico. Basic conclusions stemming from the work include the finding that cover crops grown in the winter growing window do not lose more soil water than fallow bare ground despite considerable dogma about the likelihood that they deplete soil water reserves during the winter growing period.
This finding adds important information that may help local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) create groundwater management plans that are required for compliance with SGMA, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. If remote-sensed imagery is used to determine a farm's overall water use, winter cover crop vegetation may appear on satellite images as a net water loss, while in actuality, because cover crops perform other functions such as improving soil water infiltration from rain, increasing soil aggregation and water holding capacity, and reducing the energy available at the soil surface by providing shade by the cover crop canopy, the net effect tends to be no additional water loss relative to a bare soil surface during the winter period.
The team that worked together on this research included then UC Davis PhD student, DeVincentis, her major professor, Samuel Sandoval-Solis, Daniele Zaccaria, Anna Gomes, then an undergraduate student at Davis and now a PhD student at Stanford University, and CASI's Mitchell.
The project is summarized in a manuscript that will be published in an upcoming issue of UC's quarterly peer-reviewed journal, California Agriculture, in 2022. A pdf copy of the research article is also available below.
A group of relatively new NRCS hires including Kareem Adeleke, Elena De La Torre, Breana Garcia, Jacob Wright, and Mikhael Kazzi received an exceptionally valuable introduction to state-of-the-art regenerative agriculture orchard management systems in a tour that was organized by Area 3 Agronomist, Rob Roy on December 21 at a pistachio orchard of Inbleby Farms near the tiny San Joaquin Valley town of Burrell. The tour was very graciously hosted by Gary Smith, General Manager of Ingleby along with Steven Strong, the Agronomist who works with Smith. Together, the two of them laid out the remarkable story and history of Ingleby Farms worldwide (https://inglebyfarms.com/) as well as the specific and principle-guided goals and approaches that are being pursued in Ingleby's California farming operations. To say that the new NRCS conservationists received a wonderful and information-packed orientation to soil health and sustainable orchard management would be a great understatement as Smith and Strong stayed with the eager group of NRCSers for over two full hours and showed them the many innovations that are being implemented at Ingleby. These include the use of carefully planned cover crop mixes at various planting times throughout the year that serve multiple purposes including adding carbon to the soil, capturing and cycling nitrogen in the crop's rootzone, improving soil function, and providing a trap crop for aboveground pests. Ingleby Farms is a true leader in the development of improved performance crop production systems here in California and this they provided a generous, once-in-a-lifetime introduction to their approaches. Kudos to Rob Roy for coordinating the tour and special thanks to Gary Smith and Steven Strong for so graciously hosting this group of new NRCS conservationists!
Recently hired Area 3 NRCS Conservationists along with Area 3 Agronomist, Rob Roy, and Gary Smith and Steven Strong of Ingleby Farms in pistachio orchard near Burrell, CA. From left to right, Kareem Adeleke, NRCS Conservation Agronomist, Hanford Service Center; Gary Smith, Ingleby Farms; Elena De La Torre, Soil Conservationist, Visalia Service Center; Breana Garcia, Soil Conservationist, Bakersfield Service Center; Rob Roy, Conservation Agronomist, Fresno Area Office; Jacob Wright, Soil Conservationist, Fresno Service Center; Mikhael Kazzi, Soil Conservationist, Fresno Service Center; and Steven Strong, Ingleby Farms.
October 11, 2021
Students in the agronomy class of Dr. Ranjit Riar at Fresno State University had a rare opportunity to visit a working no-tillage research field as part of a field trip that they took to the NRI Project field at the University of California's West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points, CA. On what was the windiest day of the year, the students braved the uncomfortable and blistering wind to see not only equipment that is used for reduced disturbance production, but also no-till soils and residues, as well as live demonstrations of soil aggregation and water infiltration. Jeff Mitchell of the Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation Center at UC Davis hosted the group along with fellow CASI members Joy Hollingsworth and Dan Munk.
No-tillage is still very much in its infancy in California, but continuing research by the group in Five Points that includes farmers, university, NRCS and private sector partners has shown that it is possible to produce several annual crops that are part of Central Valley production rotations successfully with the reduced disturbance approach. In addition, the researchers have documented several positive changes in soil properties and function when the combination of no-tillage and cover crops is used consistently over time.
Students in Dr. Riar's class learned about the “3 E's of farming” – equipment, economics, and ecology, during their visit to the field station and they saw no-till drills and planters and strip-tillage implements. They learned how to determine % residue cover over the soil and compared residue cover under no-tillage with cover crops versus standard clean tillage. Dr. Riar mentioned how surprised he was when he first came to California to learn how little of the practice is actually currently used in the state.
Despite the horrendous wind, the field trip was a huge success and gave students much to think about as they carefully drove back to the Fresno State campus.