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Posts Tagged: California Farm Demonstration Network

California Farm Demonstration Network invites collaboration

Jeff Mitchell, UCCE specialist, describes the California Farm Demonstration Network goals at the MOU signing ceremony in Winters.

As many in ANR already know, the California Farm Demonstration Network was recently formed and formally launched in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing ceremony that was held at the Winters orchard of Russ Lester on May 5. 

The network is a partnership of several groups, including the California Farm Bureau Federation, the USDA-NRCS, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, UC ANR, and the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, plus many farmers, local farmer associations, and private sector and other public agency affiliates. The YouTube video at provides a brief introductory overview of a small part of the network's initial efforts.

Since UC ANR is a formal signatory to the MOU that launched this effort, and because many of us in ANR are already and will hopefully be involved with the network's efforts in the future, we would like to actively encourage participation of any and all ANR colleagues who'd like to become involved with the network in any capacity. 

At this point, for instance, we welcome your involvement in everything from service on the Network Steering Committee (or other technical and advisory committees that are now being formed) to hands-on collaboration with any of the various farm demonstrations that are going to be started and that you'll have direct roles in starting yourselves. This is frankly a great time for everyone to step up and to register their interest in becoming involved. 

From left, Jeff Mitchell, Marsha Campbell, Wendy Powers, Betsy Karle and Mark Bell

The overall purpose of the network is to increase adoption of conservation agriculture, soil health and climate-smart systems in California. Its goals emphasize the development of water-, climate- and nutrient-smart systems for California's diverse crop production environments, and its focus areas include, but are not limited to, the following:  participatory learning resulting in the adoption of improved management practices grounded in sound science and experience-based principles, the public, voluntary showcasing of innovative systems developed by experienced farmer leaders, a program of farm demonstration evaluations that employ monitoring, data collection and analysis of findings, and the use of proven, creative methods for sharing, discussing and communicating results and findings to scale-up even broader adoption of improved systems.

Associate Vice President Wendy Powers and Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs Mark Bell have agreed to serve on the Network's Steering Committee. We sincerely welcome your support of and interest in the network and hope that colleagues throughout the division will become involved with it; in particular, if anyone would like to help by serving on the Network's Steering Committee as a delegate of ANR, please step forward and let us know. Send an email to Jeff Mitchell at

The introductory videos were edited and produced by two students in the Soils and Biogeochemistry Group at UC Davis, Jessica Chiartas and Irfan Ainuddin. The full 9-minute video is at and the 3-minute version is at


Posted on Friday, June 30, 2017 at 7:04 PM
  • Author: Jeff Mitchell

California Farm Demonstration Network forms to foster farmers’ innovation

NRCS regional soil health coordinator Kabir Zahangir uses a rainfall simulator to spray water over trays of different soils to show how on-farm management practices affect soil health.

Innovation is key to keeping California farmers globally competitive. On May 5, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, UC Davis and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources signed a memorandum of understanding to better connect the state's farmers with each other and with science-based information sources to assure the sustainability of the state's agricultural systems.

The scarcity of water, fossil fuel use, carbon emissions, groundwater quality, labor cost and availability, air quality and loss of soil fertility are some of the challenges to the long-term viability of farming in California.

“What we are striving to accomplish with the California Farm Demonstration Network is to create a means for farmers to learn, to discover and to innovate,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist, who is leading the effort. 

The MOU was signed by Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation; Ron Tjeerdema, associate dean of UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Karen Buhr, executive director of California Association of Resource Conservation Districts; Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; and VP Glenda Humiston.

In Glenn County, the farmer-driven effort has provided the opportunity for local farmers to share innovative practices and hold honest discussions about opportunities and challenges related to these systems.

“The collaborative effort of the partners presents the opportunity to leverage resources based on local needs and increases the likelihood that innovative agricultural practices will be adopted sooner than they might have been without the networking opportunity,” said Betsy Karle, UC Cooperative Extension director in Glenn County.

With the California Farm Demonstration Network, the organizers hope to create more opportunities to connect local people, showcase existing farmer innovation, engage in new local demonstration evaluations of improved performance practices and systems, evaluate the demonstration practices, and share information with partners. They also hope to expand and connect other local farm-demonstration hubs throughout the state via educational events, video narratives and a web-based information portal.   

Read more about the ceremony in Mitchell's blog post //

Posted on Monday, May 29, 2017 at 10:57 AM
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