- Author: Jeffrey P. Mitchell
Documentary video on no-tillage in California being prepared
July 1, 2023
A video documentary featuring five of the CA and AZ farmers who have been part of the USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant project, "No-till network for California," is in the final stages of production and will be released in the near future through the University of California's Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation Center's You Tube channel.
The documentary will feature Eddie Sajian of Hanford, CA, Rick Adams of Laton, Paul Strojan of Farmington, Dr. Henri Carter MD of Yuma, AZ, and Cary Crum, of Fresno, CA and will show them describing details of the innovative approaches that they are working on to improve the overall performance of their agricultural production systems. The release date for the documentary is scheduled for late July 2023.
- Author: Jeffrey P. Mitchell
June 17, 2023
CASI's Mitchell visits Low Desert no-tiller, Dr. Henri Carter MD, June 17, 2023!
Jeff Mitchell paid a very early morning visit in Yuma, AZ to the farm of retired surgeon and now no-till farmer, Dr. Henri Carter MD on Saturday, June 17, 2023, to learn about the very innovative efforts that he has been pursuing during the past several years. The visit was planned for quite some time and provided a very nice chance for Mitchell to meet Dr. Carter and to see up close and personal just what he has been up to with his no-till farming endeavors. The visit was recorded as a video case study that Mitchell will compile on innovative no-till farmers as part of a USDA NRCS project on establishing a no-till network in California.
Dr. Carter has an interesting background and evolution toward the work that he is now conducting. He started out as a student of agricultural science at Arizona State University and worked not only on his family's farm in the Yuma area when he was growing up, but also in many related jobs on farms and in packing sheds for cantaloupes, lettuce, hay, and other crops. Then, after he had the opportunity to go to medical school, he returned to Yuma where he dedicated his career to work as a trauma surgeon which was most gratifying for him. Now retired from surgery, he bought farming/range acreage just north of the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers where he showed Mitchell what he is trying to do in conjunction with a project he has with Arizona's Game and Fish Department to provide access to hunters on his property using the permanent cover and no-till approaches that he is pioneering. He showed Mitchell blocks of no-till, quite high surface residue sunflower and cowpeas that he successfully established this year after a number of bouts with trial and error learning.
While not the usual crop context in which we tend to imagine no-till applications, what Dr. Carter is doing is nonetheless quite intriguing and interesting.
More to come soon once the video on maverick farmers and the unusual things they're doing in CA and AZ is released!
Strip-tillage under optimal soil moisture conditions is critical, - meaning not too dry, but hopefully not too wet. Using GPS to align planter units with strip-till rows is necessary, as is the timely (usually within one week of corn seeding) application of herbicide. Finally, anticipating and applying irrigations earlier and perhaps more frequently than with standard till systems.
Gordon Foster (pictured at right), a Barcellos Farms employee, has done the bulk of the farm’s no-till and strip-till corn seeding since Barcellos started with CT in 1993.
“The bulk of our corn is now strip-tilled,” he said, “due to the overall advantages we’ve seen with this system.”
Time and costs between crops are reduced. One of the primary lessons that Barcellos has learned through his years of using CT is the absolute need to be on top of water management.
“You may end up putting on less water with CT than conventional tillage systems, but you’ve really got to be prepared for earlier and perhaps more frequent irrigations," has been a learning-curve consideration that he reinforces to folks who are interested in getting into CT.
They use a John Deere 1590 no-till drill to seed wheat or triticale in the fall and also they use the same drill to establish a sorghum sudan triple crop following corn chopping. Corn is direct seeded with a Monosem twin-row planter that staggers two seed lines every 30 inches in flat plantings (pictured below right).
One problem that has surfaced in the Crowell’s CT system is the natural consolidation or settling of their largely sandy soil that has created low spots where irrigation water tends to collect resulting in poor crop growth.To address this problem, they will do a shallow landplaning following this summer’s crops.