- Author: Jeffrey P Mitchell
September 13, 2019
About forty people took part in the public educational event that was held at the farm of Gary, Mari, and Daniel Martin just north of Mendota, CA on the 13th of September to tackle the very timely and important topics of soil health and climate-smart farming techniques. The event was held as part of the CDFA Healthy Soils Program project that a group of CASI Workgroup folks are conducting with the Martins and at the Five Points field station about 40 miles south. This project is monitoring and evaluating what happens to important soil health properties and functions as well as GHG emissions under the practices of cover cropping and compost amendment applications. For two years now, the Martins have been growing cover crops in the winter months as has been done in the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points. Gary Martin (DSC 6473) provided an overview of the goals and operations that he has implemented at his farm as well as some of the costs and challenges of the cover cropping practice. He estimated that his costs for doing cover crops are roughly $100 per acre each year. UCD Soils graduate student, Geoff Koch, (DSC 6480) shared with attendees the work that he has been conducting on soil health indicators and also GHG emissions from the farm comparison in Mendota and also at the field station in Five Points. His research is aimed at preparing an accounting of the relative GHG emissions that come from the different tillage and cover crop systems under evaluation in Five Points, the cover crop and compost systems in Mendota. Caddie Bergren, Emily Lovell, and Shulamit Shroder, three newly-hired coordinators with UC ANR and CDFA's Healthy Soils and SWEEP Programs, presented information to the assembled audience about how farmers can access support funding that can help enable on-farm demonstration evaluations of climate-smart and water use efficient techniques. In addition, the beginning steps toward a San Joaquin Valley cotton farmer network were discussed by participants and an initiative that is being prepared by the Soil Health Institute in NC along with prominent partners, Cotton Incorporated, the National Cotton Council, Wrangler, and the Walmart Foundation. More to come on this network during the coming months! More information about the event and the material that was presented is available in the summary of Major Points that is attached here.