Conservation agriculture news
January 26, 2019
CASI had the honor of hosting Peter Donovan of the Soil Carbon Coalition at our long-term NRI Project field on Saturday, January 26th. Peter is a very well-known thought-leader and very dedicated person who has been working on the front lines to “advance the practice, and spread awareness of the opportunity, of turning atmospheric carbon into living landscapes and soil carbon” through the Soil Carbon Coalition, a nonprofit (501c3) organization for many years. He and other Coalition partners are traveling far and wide to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of the “soil carbon sponge,” the “living matrix that soaks up, stores, and filters water; holds landscapes in place; and provides nutrients for an entire food chain, from what would otherwise be bare rock and desert sands.” CASI's Jeff Mitchell hosted Peter for a very good visit and examination of the diverse cover crops that are now growing in the NRI Project study and of the changes in soil functions that have occurred with no-tillage and cover crop management since the NRI Project was started in 1999. Peter will join our CIG project group at the upcoming cover crop workshop at the Paicines Ranch February 7 – 9 and he will share some of his thinking with our group at that event. We sincerely thank Peter Donovan for coming by the NRI Project and sharing his ideas with us!
Peter Donovan of the Soil Carbon Coalition visiting the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA. January 26, 2019.
CASI’s Rob Roy represents CA in Soil Health Institute's North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements in Chicago, IL January 23 and 24th!
CASI Website Blog Release
January 25, 2019
Rob Roy, NRCS Agronomist in the Fresno Area 3 office, took part in the Soil Health Institute's (SHI) conference held in Chicago, IL January 23rd and 24th and represented the longstanding NRI Project that he's been involved with since 1999 in Five Points, CA. The Chicago meeting brought together folks from about 120 long-term agricultural experiment sites across Canada, the US, and Mexico to begin planning and to launch preparations for the sampling phase of this major new soil health effort. The project will assess 31 indicators of soil health and till work to develop widely acceptable soil health measurements and standards, as well as “launch a comprehensive evaluation program that relates soil health to quantified productivity, economic, and environmental outcomes.” Roy has been an integral member of the NRI Project team since its start and is a frequent partner in education events and training activities associated with the project. The NRI study site compares four soil management systems including standard tillage without cover crops, standard tillage with cover crops, no-tillage without cover crops and no-tillage with cover crops. The project site in Five Points has evaluated this systems that have been consistently maintained now for twenty years. The Five Points NRI study site is a unique resource that has evaluated the combination of reduced disturbance and cover crop management in California's high-value annual cropping context. In the Chicago meeting, Roy learned about the SHI's plans for sampling and had the chance to interact with folks from other long-term studies. Our thanks go out to Rob Roy for representing our CASI/NRI team in Chicago!
NRCS’s Rob Roy (left), Area 3 Agronomist, and Paul Tracy (right) of the Soil Health Institute at the kick-off meeting of the North American long-term study site soil health project in Chicago, IL, January 23 and 24, 2019.
Dr. Daphne Miller MD and Dr. Jagdeep Singh MD visited CASI's long-term NRI Project field in Five Points, CA on January 21st to learn about how long-term reduced disturbance and cover crop management impact soil biology and to talk about connections between soil health and human health. Dr. Miller is a Family Medicine Physician in the Department of Family Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and a Project Scientist in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Singh is a Psychiatrist at the US Veterans' Hospital in Fresno and almond farmer in Madera, CA. Their tour and visit to the NRI Project field provided a good opportunity for them to see “up close and personal” how our no-till and cover crop management have affected soil function and health after twenty years of sustained implementation. Their visit stemmed from the “Soil Health and Human Health – Bridging the Silos” workshop that was held in Berkeley and at the Paicines Ranch back in August of 2018 and the recent Ag Emerge conference that was held in Monterey related to moving beyond the ag paradigm and it provided a good opportunity for them to talk with CASI's Jeff Mitchell about the NRI study and related, ongoing work that our Workgroup is conducting. Following their visit to Five Points, they were joined by Tom Willey of Madera, CA for a tour and discussion at Dr. Singh's almond orchard and then a quick visit out to Sano Farms with Alan Sano in Firebaugh to view the expansive cover crops that are being grown there this winter. We thank Drs. Miller and Singh for their visit and we look forward to many strong connections with them in the future!
Drs Daphne Miller MD and Jagdeep Singh MD visiting the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA January 21, 2019
Dr. Daphne Miller MD, Dr. Jagdeep Singh MD, Jagdeep Singh’s father, Tom Willey, and Sharon Meers at the Singh’s almond orchard in Madera, CA January 21, 2019
Alan Sano of Sano Farms, Firebaugh, CA, along with Sharon Meers, Dr. Daphne Miller MD and Tom Willey visiting Sano Farms in Firebaugh, CA January 21, 2019
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!
August 29, 2018