- Author: Laura J. Van der Staay
After attending the 6th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in June, Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, and Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, stated, "Focusing on soil care will improve soil water intake and storage...Reducing soil water evaporation can be achieved by preserving surface residues. Together these steps reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions – very important goals.”
Mitchell is the chair of the UC Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation Center. CASI is exploring options to help support the implementation of conservation agriculture in California. Read more.
- Author: Jeff Mitchell
- Contributor: Laura J. Van der Staay
A video of the soil health workshops that were held last week on Tuesday, December 10th in Davis and Wednesday, December 11th in Five Points with Jay Fuhrer, a district conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Bismarck, ND and Brendon Rockey, a farmer from Center, CO is now available for viewing. These workshops attracted over 150 participants and generated many good ideas and interactions between attendees.
The Conservation Agriculture Systems Institute (CASI) thanks all who took part and also extends warm gratitude to Jay and Brendon for taking the time to share their experiences with California Ag stakeholders.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Free Twilight Field Day and bus tour 1 to 8 p.m. Sept 12, 1 pm to 8 pm September 12.
Sustainable agricultural systems involving precision irrigation and conservation tillage will be featured at the University of California Cooperative Extension's annual "Twilight Field Day," which will feature a new farm tour.
"We want to introduce more farmers to these proven technologies," said field day coordinator Jeff Mitchell, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. "We've done research here, and there's a lot of work from other areas showing that these systems work and they save water, reduce dust, store carbon in the soil and save farmers money."
Specific innovative technologies that will be presented include:
- Proper irrigation application package selection for specific soil types and conditions
- Salinity and irrigation management to avoid penetration and surface sealing problems
- ‘Innovative Boomback’ technologies for maintaining dry wheel tracks with ‘tire-to-tire’ production
- Economic comparisons of irrigation systems
- Innovative soil and crop residue management practices to improve long-term soil properties and function
The program focuses on both the potential benefits of combining these practices to achieve greater profits and resource conservation as well as specific strategies for avoiding problems.
This year, the event has been expanded to include an afternoon bus tour to three San Joaquin Valley farms where conservation agriculture systems are already being successfully implemented. Registrants will gather at 1 p.m. at the UC Westside Research and Extension Center, 17353 West Oakland Ave., Five Points, to load the buses.
The farm tour visits include:
- Johnny and Joann Tacharra Dairy in Burrel. The Tacharras will explain their plans to apply dairy waste water through an overhead irrigation system to grow forage crops.
- Armando Galvan of Five Points Ranch. Galvan will show how he refined his irrigation system to apply water to vegetable and row crops. Galvan installs special nozzles and boom configurations on his overhead irrigation drop lines that are designed to improve water infiltration and avoid ponding and crusting on the soil surface.
- Scott Schmidt of Farming 'D' Ranch in Five Points. Schmidt will discuss the new management strategies that must be applied to successfully implement new agricultural systems.
Following the tour, the participants reconvene at 4 p.m. at the UC Westside REC for a workshop on the economic and environmental benefits of conservation agriculture systems. The event continues with a free barbecue dinner, entertainment by the Wheelhouse Country Band and a keynote address by Suat Irmak, director of the Nebraska Water Center and professor of biological systems engineering. The Water Center was established at the University of Nebraska by congressional mandate in 1964. Nebraska farms currently lead the nation in adopting precision irrigation systems.
Following Irmak's presentation and discussion, Mitchell will name the 2013 Conservation Tillage Farmer Innovator of the Year award winner.
The expanded event coincides with a concerted effort by the Conservation Agricultural Systems Innovation (CASI) Center to grow the conservation agriculture movement in California. CASI is a diverse group of UC researchers, farmers, public and private industry and environmental groups formed to develop and exchange information on sustainable agricultural systems for California row crops.
"In each century, there are just a handful of times when agriculture can transform itself in revolutionary ways," Mitchell said. "There is growing evidence that today presents one of those rare chances for agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley to reinvent itself."
- Author: Laura J. Van der Staay
A training and certification workshop was held at UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center for agricultural pest management professionals and successfully added 23 individuals to the registry of Technical Service Providers .
The goal of the workshop was to train, certify and register individuals with integrated pest management (IPM) expertise to support the mission of the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) as Technical Service Providers. These new Technical Service Providers will support the mission of NRCS by augmenting highly technical areas in the development and documentation of IPM Conservation Activity Plans. Using private sector expertise in conjunction with NRCS personnel and UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines, additional services can be provided to landowners seeking mitigation to natural resource concerns.
The workshop was conducted with University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, UC Cooperative Extension, the UC Statewide IPM Program, NRCS and the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists.
NRCS provides expertise to landowners to address and mitigate on-farm resource concerns that affect air, water, wildlife, soil and humans. In recent years, there have been increased requests for assistance to mitigate resource concerns linked to pests or pest management activities.
One of the trainees was Sylvie Robillard from Tecolote IPM Consulting, who has been a pest control adviser specializing in IPM consulting for 25 years in Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties. She feels that the use of Technical Service Provider consultants will increase the number of farmers using conservation activity plans for IPM. Farmers currently using Robillard’s services already practice IPM and have a desire to conserve natural resources so that they can continue to farm. Robillard believes that by using the USDA NRCS tools and being registered as a Technical Service Provider, she can better help her clients document and refine their conservation plans. With more Technical Service Providers, more farmers can become aware of and use Technical Service Providers to help create conservation activity plans for IPM and implement conservation efforts in accordance with NRCS guidelines.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The San Joaquin Valley boasts many of America’s most innovative farms. However, in terms of conservation agriculture practices – such as using little or no tillage, maintaining crop residues on the soil surface, and irrigating with buried drip or overhead systems – the most important agricultural region in the world is lagging behind.
To introduce more valley farmers to the benefits of conservation agriculture practices, Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation (CASI) produced a six-part documentary featuring California farmers, UC researchers and agency representatives. The series premieres Aug. 6 on the CASI website (http://CASI.ucanr.edu) with a 7-minute segment that lays out the theoretical principles and the scientific basis for conservation agriculture. Additional segments will be released each Monday for five weeks thereafter.
Throughout the series, viewers will meet farmers who are implementing conservation agriculture successfully and profitably on their Central Valley farms. The 6- to 10-minute episodes review the core principles and practices associated with conservation agriculture systems and provide examples of successful local adoption.
After the six-week series airs, viewers, farmers and others interested in conservation agriculture are invited to the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Fresno County for the annual Twilight Conservation Agriculture Field Day, Sept. 13. The event, which begins at 4 p.m. and concludes when darkness falls, is free and includes a barbecue dinner. Viewers can get clarification on points from the video series and meet many of the farmers and scientists featured in the documentary, plus get a first-hand look at conservation agriculture research currently under way.
To register for the Twilight Field Day go to http://ucanr.edu/TwilightRegistration. The West Side Research and Extension Center is at 17353 W. Oakland Ave., Five Points.
“Our goal with the video series is to reach a wider audience of farmers with our research results and on-farm success stories, which show conservation agricultural practices can help make farmers more competitive and sustainable in the long run,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis.
The Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation documentary series includes the following episodes:
Aug. 6: “Introduction to conservation agriculture” – The first video defines conservation agriculture and outlines its increasing credibility in the global context.
Aug. 13: “Maintaining crop residues” – California farmers have tended to adopt “clean cultivation” systems, but research has shown that maintenance of residues from the previous crop or a winter cover crop helps improve soil and reduces evaporation from the surface.
Aug. 20: “Conservation agriculture in tomato production systems” – These systems cut production costs, reduce dust emissions and store more carbon in the soil.
Aug. 27: “Conservation agriculture in dairy silage production systems” – Three dairy farmers committed to conservation agriculture systems in their silage production share their secrets and success.
Sep. 3: “Minimum tillage systems” – This video features examples of a number of reduced pass or ‘pass combining’ tillage systems that have been developed during the past decade.
Sep. 10: “Coupling conservation tillage with overhead irrigation” – Overhead irrigation systems, such as center pivots, are particularly useful when coupled with conservation tillage.
For more information, contact Mitchell at (559) 303-9689 or firstname.lastname@example.org.