- Author: Jeffrey P Mitchell
About 80 Master Gardeners of the UCCE group in El Dorado County came together to learn about the principles and practices of conservation agriculture in a lively discussion with CASI Workgroup Chair, Jeff Mitchell, on June 23rd at the group's monthly meeting in Placerville. The meeting was organized by Master Gardener event coordinator, Catherine Mone, and drew a very animated and engaged group of participants.
Mitchell talked about the core principles of conservation agriculture and the extent to which they're now being used around the world and recently in California. He showcased examples of pioneering innovation that have been achieved in a number of cropping contexts and also provided information and ideas as to why it will be increasingly likely that these sorts of production system options may have greater receptivity and resonance in California in the future. He ended his discussion with some examples of motivation that he has benefited from over the years from his professional mentor, Dwayne Beck of South Dakota State University. "Take the E out of ET and the T out of can't," was Beck's encouragement to Mitchell. This can be accomplished by protecting the soil surface with crop residues that cool soil temperatures and reduce soil water evaporation, and by not giving in to merely accepting the status quo, but by identifying bold, ambitious, and long-term cropping system goals and then coming up with the ways to achieve them. This is, according to Beck, "Nothing short of the agronomic and ecological equivalent of the space race back in the 1960's" and we are going to need to really dedicate tremendous creativity and effort toward achieving it.
CASI was very honored to be invited by the Master Gardeners of El Dorado County and we look forward to returning to Placerville in late September!