August 13, 2018
Patrick O'Neill, certified crop and soil health advisor in the San Luis Valley in Colorado, took time from his busy travel schedule in California to stop by the NRI Project study field and talk with Jeff Mitchell on August 13th 2018. He works in CO with a group of 15 farmers who are themselves trying to evaluate opportunities for improving soil function through the use of what they call “fungal-dominated compost” and cover crops in the largely potato, onion and grain food production systems that they have. This is a region that is in many respects like California's San Joaquin Valley in terms of water availability and farmers there have had to constrain the actual amount of land that they now farm due to water allocation cutbacks. Surprisingly perhaps and in contrast to what is commonly seen in the SJV, many farmers in the San Luis Valley are now using cover crops on lands that are fallow due to restrictions in irrigation water allocations as means to stabilize them and to keep some measure of soil biology active for when they rotate back to these fields for their cash crops. We have invited Patrick to take part in future information exchanges with us in the new NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant and we look forward to very informative exchanges between him and folks in his region and the core group of farmers who are now working on this CIG effort. Patrick took part in the “Health from the Soil Up – Bridging the Silos of Health and Agriculture” three-day conference that just concluded in Berkeley and Paicines, CA along with CASI's Jeff Mitchell. This forum of folks from agriculture and the medical professions is now working together to look at creative ways to improve not only soil health, but also human health and opportunities for improving the overall health of the soil as well as the health of humans. Much more will come from these sorts of collaborations and we welcome Patrick to being part of our work in California!
Kelly O’Neill (left), Patrick O’Neill (center) and Jeff Mitchell (right) visiting the CASI NRI Project field in Five Points, CA on August 13, 2018