- Author: Jeffrey P Mitchell
December 9, 2018
Successful soil health field day held in Meridian, CA - December 6th!
A highly successful and engaging public field day dedicated to soil health and what annual crop farmers can do to improve soil health while also mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from their fields was organized and led by UC ANR Advisors, Amber Vinchesi and Sarah Light up in Meridian, CA in Sutter County, on December 6th. The event attracted upwards of forty participants who were actively engaged with the discussions and demonstrations that were provided. The effort that Vinchesi and Light are spearheading is part of a CDFA Healthy Soils Program (HSP) project that is working with several farmers throughout the Central Valley on monitoring evaluations of a variety of practices that ought to not only improve soil function over time, but also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The event took place at the farm of Vincent Andreotti on Meridian Road just east of the small Sacramento Valley town of Meridian where Vinchesi and Light are doing soil and GHG sampling in conjunction with the field comparison that Andreotti has set up of cover crops and winter fallow or bare ground. Following introductory discussions by both Vinchesi and Light on the monitoring techniques they're using and on how cover crops might benefit cropping systems in the region, Andreotti laid out what he is doing this fall to establish his winter cover crop and how he intends to manage it. Then, his mentor and next-door neighbor, long-time cover crop user, Scott Park, share with attendees the many positive things he has achieved by using cover crops now for over 35 years at his farm. Park shared with the audience the changes and improvements he and his son, Brian Park, are now seeing that result from their sustained use of inter-crop cover crops and how they are now actually undertaking plans to further intensify their reliance on even more ambitiously using cover crops, reduced disturbance tillage approaches, and production systems that actually include animals during certain periods. Jeff Mitchell also participated in the educational program that Vinchesi and Light had coordinated by sharing findings that have been seen in the long-term NRI Project in Five Points, CA and he demonstrated how aggregation of the cover crop and no-till soils in this project have been improved over the years relative to the conventional, intensively-tilled soils with no cover crops. The study of Vinchesi and Light is part of a larger CDFA HSP effort that also involves monitoring sites in San Joaquin, Merced, and Fresno Counties. Stay tuned for more findings from these sites in the near future!