A very diverse and large group of farmers, consultants, public agency, and private sector folks participated in a highly successful training session on the benefits of soil management for farming systems at the site of the long-term USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture National Research Initiative (NRI) Project field in Five Points on Tuesday, June 6th. The overflow crowd took in discussions by farmers Scott Park, Jesse Sanchez, Alan Sano, and Tom Willey; UC Davis researchers Randy Southard, Rad Schmidt, Howard Ferris, Sloane Rice; and KARE's own Jeff Mitchell. Attendees also participated in a number of demonstrations of soil function that were provided by NRCSers Sheryl Feit and Kabir Zahangir and were also able to view soil profiles of two of the tillage and cover crop systems that have been evaluated at the site for over 17 years with soil pit trainers, Phil Smith and Rafael Ortiz of NRCS and Randy Southard of UC Davis. The training event was organized to provide evidence and experiences related to the benefits that might be achieved through a dedication to reduced disturbance management and soil biology.
Take-home messages from the training event emphasized the fact that no-till has now been shown to be a successful seeding technique for a range of crops in California, that deliberate and sustained attention to sustaining soil biology through practices such as reduced disturbance, cover crops and compost amendment applications may have functional benefits to farming systems, and that there are great opportunities for expanding the application of such practices to good advantage particularly in Central Valley annual crop systems.
Handout informational materials were provided and may be requested by writing to Jeff Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Educational videos summarizing progress that has been made at the NRI Project site over the years are also available through CASI.
In addition, tour visits of the long-term site can be scheduled by contacting Mitchell at (559) 303-9689. Now is a particularly good time to visit the site as there are two no-till crops, garbanzos and sorghum, growing simultaneously throughout the entire study field.
KARE outreach and education leader, Laura Van Der Staay, along with UCD Cooperative Extension Cropping Systems Specialist, Jeff Mitchell, had their hands full with over 300 enthusiastic Tulare County 4th graders as part of the 2017 half-day AgVentures extravaganza that was held at the International Ag Center on May 12. This is the third time the two of them have taken part in this activity that is always a big hit with the kids, teachers and parents. Students learned about soil science and research that is underway at the KARE Center related to soil function and management and also had a chance to see up close and personal how soils can change if they are managed using conservation agriculture practices. While the day is always grueling, both Van Der Staay and Mitchell departed after a hearty hamburger lunch that was provided by the event organizers with the satisfaction of having hopefully expanded horizons and inspired a new generation of science-loving students.
- Author: Laura J. Van der Staay
UC ANR is participating in the World Ag Expo, held February 14, 15, and 16, 2017. Statewide programs, UC Cooperative Extension, and the Research and Extension Center System will have booths and personnel available for the entire show. We have booths 1411, 1412, 1512 and 1513. Wilcox Agri Products donated some space for an UC ANR conservation tillage tent in the M48-53 area. UC ANR will also have people participating in the newsmakers conference as well as providing seminars.
- Author: Jeffrey Mitchell
This Friday starting at 10:00 AM and going till about 11:45 AM, Alan Sano and Jesse Sanchez of Sano Farms will host visitors at 44935-B W. Shields Avenue. They will discuss and show what they've done to achieve their soil management goals in their processing tomato fields using reduced disturbance tillage, precision drip irrigation and cover crops. Visitors will also have an opportunity to learn more about the growing farm demonstration network and its work. The visit will start at 10 o'clock and wrap up at about 11:45 AM. Further information can be acquired by calling Jeff Mitchell, ANR Cooperative Extension Cropping Systems Specialist at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, by calling his cell (559) 303-9689 or emailing him at email@example.com
Take Hwy 180 west out of Fresno through Kerman, CA and to Mendota. In Mendota, take Belmont Avenue west out of town. At Fairfax Avenue, go north (right) about a mile. Turn left (west) onto Shields Avenue and continue about two miles to the farm on the left side of the road.
From I-5 north or south:
Take Shields Avenue exit. Go east on Shields. Continue about 5 miles to Sano Farms on right side of road. Follow signs to meeting place.
This past Monday, October 26th, Jesse Sanchez, the farm manager at Sano Farms out west of the small town of Firebaugh, was honored in Washington, D.C. as a White House Champion of Change. Working closely with Alan Sano, the farm's owner, over the past ten years, Jesse has developed highly efficient production practices for the roughly 1500 acres of processing and fresh market tomatoes that employ the use of off-season cover crops to add carbon to the soil to improve tilth as well as water storage and movement in the soil, and also, the use of a form of reduced tillage that is called strip-tillage. Read more on the Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation (CASI) website.