- Author: Jeffrey P Mitchell
August 27, 2019
Several CASI members recently stepped up to host Rick Reed, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Conservation Agriculture leader, at their farms over a three-day period of ambitious farm tours here in California from August 23rd through August 27th. Rick was the Extension County Director for Coffee County in south central GA during the time when considerable progress was made by local farmers on strip-tillage and cover crop systems for a range of crops that are grown in the region. He led a very results-oriented and highly dedicated team of farmers, NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation District partners, and other UGA colleagues including Sharad Pathak, in the development and expansion of conservation agriculture systems for their region. Much of their work spanned the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Rick was first, Coffee County's Extension Agent and later its Extension Director where he achieved the respect of countless farmers. He worked very closely and effectively with NRCS State Conservationist, Andy Page, and this duo made significant strides with the farmers that they worked with in advancing high residue, cover crop strip-tillage production practices throughout Central Georgia.
During his trip to California this summer, Rick and his wife, Candi, participated in the Acres USA soil health conference that was held on the UC Davis campus and they he visited several California farms to see up close and personal some of the innovations that are being worked on. First, he visited Scott Park up in Meridian, CA (Photo 1) and learned about Scott and Brian's nearly year-round cover cropping, sheep grazing and strip-till evaluation efforts. Following this farm visit, he enjoyed a wonderful lunch and discussion with Gene Miyao, Rich Collins, Dan Cohen, and Bob Bugg in Davis (Photo 2). Then, he was hosted by Justin Diener of Red Rock Ranch (Photo 3) and Scott Schmidt of Farming D down in Five Points and on the same day, Rick also went up to Firebaugh where he met Jesse Sanchez of Sano Farms (Photo 4). His travels to CA farms culminated with a very nice visit with Tom Willey and Jeff Mitchell to Phil Foster's farm over in Hollister (Photo 5) where year-round cover cropping, strip-tillage and use of a very innovative vertical tillage implement that Phil has modified after first borrowing a prototype developed by USDA ARS organic systems researcher, Eric Brennan, over in Salinas. All in all, Rick had some very wonderful farm stops during his California tour. We thank those CASI farmers who went out of their way to host him and we thank Rick for coming out to visit us!