- Author: Jeffrey P. Mitchell
Top 15 No-till and Conservation Agriculture Research Articles Selected by Panel at National No-till Farmer Association!
January 9, 2022
During the past couple of months, Randall Reeder, retired Extension Agricultural Engineer with the Ohio State University, (and legendary professional speaker who “brings to life the warmth and humor of Will Rogers as he speaks to business and agriculture audiences, and a variety of other groups”), who is also a recognized No-till Research and Education Innovator by the National No-till Farmer Association, and Don Reicosky, retired USDA ARS soil scientist from Morris, MN, who many of you in CA already know from our having hosted him here on at least a couple of occasions in the past (Don is also a past No-till Research and Education Innovator recognized by NNTFA), worked on a survey and compilation of the top 15 research articles of all time in no-till and in conservation agriculture. A committee was created and voting took place to come up with the final lists of works that were announced at the annual meeting of NNTFA last week in Louisville, KY. Both Randall and Don are pretty amazing folks in terms of their decades-long dedicated service to the fields of no-till and conservation agriculture. I think the idea for the lists came from the organizers of the NNTFA and they then asked Randall and Don to coordinate things.
The lists are attached. Perhaps you'll recognize some of the titles as they are pretty well-known and highly respected items.
All the best,
- Author: Jeffrey P. Mitchell
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.
- Author: Jeffrey P Mitchell
- Author: Jeffrey P Mitchell
Fifteen years of stunning conservation agriculture success at Rollin Valley Farms in Burrel, CA!
June 22, 2020
Andy Rollin, along with his brother, Donny, are dairy farmers near the small western San Joaquin Valley town of Burrel, CA. Their farm, Rollin Valley Farms, milks over 2,000 cows and has about 700 acres of silage crops including alfalfa, corn, oats, wheat, and sudangrass. About 15 years ago, they began some of the earliest efforts to develop reduced disturbance production techniques for their silage crops (see video below). They pioneered the successful development of strip-till corn way back in 2003 and 2004 and then a few years later, began working with Monte Bottens and Cary Crum of California Ag Solutions (CAS) in Madera, CA, to further improve their production systems. Monte and Cary helped them with state-of-the-art planter improvements, an Orthman 1-tRipR strip-till implement and also the use of CAS's Landoll no-till grain drill. (See Picture 1). In addition, the Rollins have in recent years added a late-summer multi-species silage “cover crop” which has now augmented their annual forage production over their prior double-cropping practices. Strip-till corn yields at their farm are up about 2 to 3 tons/acre over prior production rates and there have also been 10 to 15% improvements in their feed quality that have resulted from the coupled, innovative efforts that they have made.
The Rollins were also involved with a research study back in 2004 and 2005 with CASI's Nick Madden, Randy Southard, and Jeff Mitchell to determine the impacts of their reduced disturbance practices on air quality. (See Picture 2.)This work showed that over 85% of dust emissions were reduced by strip-till compared to their previous standard till system (see the attached article by Madden et al. 2008). (See Picture 3).
The Rollins are now firmly behind their transition to strip-till and no-till cover crops and small grain seeding schemes and attribute an early spring savings of about 10 days to their reduced disturbance corn planting systems. They now have switched to watering up their strip-till corn following the very minimal soil work they do following winter small grain chopping and harvesting. In recognition of their innovative and steadfast progress, they were Finalists in the 2018 Leopold Conservation Award Program. The following short video shows one of their strip-till corn fields this spring. (See Picture 4.)
Here is a link to a You Tube video of this project: https://youtu.be/mq8itVs3Iak