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Farmer Profiles: On-Farm Practices

Farmer profiles feature different farmers discussing their nutrient management efforts around their farm to feature innovative, creative, and high quality practices.  As a way to increase the networks and engagement around nutrient management, farmers can volunteer to be a resource to people looking for more information on their practices.

These profiles do not serve as UC recommendations. Rather, they illustrate how different farmers throughout the state regard nutrient management as part of their overall farm management.

Farmer Profiles were created with the help of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

Nate Ray - De Jager Farms

Minimum Tillage and Subsurface Drip Irrigation in Dairy Forage Production

Nate Ray of De Jager Farms
Nate Ray of De Jager Farms
Nate Ray is the general manager of DeJager Farms Inc., responsible for producing forage feed for 8 different diaries with a total of 25,000 cows on 17,000 acres of land near Chowchilla. About 8000 acres are in alfalfa, another 8000 in a corn-wheat rotation, and “since enough forage is produced for the dairies,” 1000 acres are in almonds and tomato. He has focused on improving tillage, irrigation, and nutrient management practices at the farm.

Continue reading about De Jager Farms' practices.

Frank Muller - Muller Ranch

Large-scale Diversified Organic and Conventional

The Muller Ranch, grows organic and conventionally managed tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sunflower, walnuts, almonds vine grapes, olives, alfalfa, squashes, millet, wheat, corn, safflower, canola, and garlic on several thousand acres in Yolo County, where Joe Muller & Sons, as the family enterprise was formerly known, was founded in 1967.

Continue reading about the Muller Ranch practices.

Paicines Ranch Vineyard

Integrating Livestock as a Management Tool

Cattle grazing at Paicines Ranch
Cattle grazing at Paicines Ranch
Paicines Ranch, located south of Hollister, has been operated since the mid-19th century and was purchased by Sallie Calhoun and Matt Christiano in 2001. It consists of 7,600 acres in total, which is divided between 570 acres of farmland and the rest grazing land. The grazing land is temporarily leased to Joe Morris of T&O Cattle Co./Morris Grassfed Beef, which markets grassfed beef directly to the public. Paicines Ranch is managed by Kelly Mulville, who is a Certified Educator with Holistic Management International (HMI), and also a UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden graduate.

Paicines Ranch’s irrigated bottomland was previously farmed by Earthbound Farms, but the ranch has taken it back and is currently restoring the soils through cover crops and planned grazing. They plan to incorporate a larger variety of crops into their production, resulting in a polyculture of fruit and nut trees and vegetable crops.

Continue reading about Paicines Ranch Vineyard's practices.

Full Belly Farm

Diversified Organic Farm

Full Belly Farms in Capay Valley
Full Belly Farms in Capay Valley
Full Belly Farm is a diversified organic farm in the Capay Valley that produces over 80 different crops, from vegetables, fruits, and nuts to cut flowers, eggs and wool. The farm is owned by 4 partners, Andrew Brait, Judith Redmond, Paul Muller, and Dru Rivers and consists of 250 acres of owned land plus an additional 150 acres that are rented. It has been certified organic by CCOF since 1985, and sells to wholesale and retail stores and restaurants. Its products also reach consumers directly through multiple farmers markets and a 1,100-member Community Supported Agriculture project that delivers to customer pick-up locations throughout the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.

Continue reading about Full Belly Farm's practices.

 

Scott Park Farming

Multipronged Approach to Nutrient Management

Scott Park Farms in Meridian, California
Scott Park Farms in Meridian, California
Scott Park farms about 1500 acres in Meridian, California. He currently leases and owns 22 separate fields, which are all certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers. He grows a wide array of crops including corn, processing tomatoes, rice, wheat, beans, millet, stevia, vine seed, and herbs. Scott is a first generation famer with no formal education in agriculture. He started working on farms in the Meridian area in 1970, while in college. After graduating with his degree in Political Theory, a friend asked him join in on a partnership for a processing tomatoes farm. From 1974 to 1985, Scott grew processing tomatoes with conventional practices, but then he leased a new field that changed his perspective.

Continue reading about Scott Park's practices.

John Teixeira - Lone Willow Farm

Self-Sufficient Nutrient Management

Texeira showing the species of his cover crop mix
Texeira showing the species of his cover crop mix
John Teixeira farms 90 acres of land bordering the San Joaquin River in Firebaugh, California. The land has been certified organic since 1991. One field also carries biodynamic certification, which will soon extend to the entire farm. The farm has evolved from producing organic cotton, heirloom tomatoes, and basil in the early years, to now focusing on producing pastured pigs, goats, and chickens in rotation with livestock feed, including alfalfa and corn. It also produces ancient grains for commercial sale, including Ethiopian emmer, kamut (an old wheat relative), and Sonora wheat, as well as dry beans, sunflower seed, melons, and honey. In some years the farm also produces salsa from ingredients all grown on the farm, including tomatoes, onions, and garlic. His livestock are direct-marketed to butchers and other buyers in the Bay Area and at local farmers markets, where their excellent flavor and quality have received high praise. His ancient grains are made into pasta and other products.

Continue reading about Lone Willow Farm's practices.

Charlie Starr Vineyards

Nutrient Management Planning

Charlie Starr Vineyards in Acampo
Charlie Starr Vineyards in Acampo
Charlie Starr grew up around vineyards; today, together with his father and father-in-law, the family oversees around 100 acres of vines in Acampo, California. Since the 1960s, the families have been expanding vineyard acreage, with the oldest Zinfandel dating back to the 1960s and the youngest vines planted in 2005. The majority of their vines are Zinfandel, with about 10% Syrah. They currently sell their fruit to various wineries, including Sutter Home, Bogle, and Lange Twins.

The nutrient management plan for Charlie’s family vineyards is based off of petiole samples, soil samples, and the inspection of the vines for visual symptoms of deficiencies. “Nutrient management should never be reactionary, you need to have a plan,” Charlie says. “If you already see a deficiency, it may be too late to correct it that season.”

Continue reading about Charlie Starr Vineyards' practices. 

Pasture 42 - Ken and Susan Muller

Grazing orchard cover crops in the Capay Valley

Using livestock forage for cover crops throughout their hundred-acre farm in the western Sacramento Valley brings a plethora of benefits to farmers Ken and Susan Muller. According to Ken, the forage crops allow them to maximize production from their limited water, builds soil, and improves water-holding capacity. The approach works in part because it fits with their marketing strategy of fetching a premium price due to organic production methods and selling directly to customers.

Continue reading about Pasture 42's practices.