Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
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Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

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16 farmers from Uzbekistan visit CASI and the NRI Project in Five Points

July 31, 2018

News Release

Uzbek visitors tour the UC CASI NRI Project field in Five Points, CA
Sixteen farmers from the Fergana and Jizzakh regions of Uzbekistan visited five farms and toured the NRI Project in Five Points, CA July 30th and 31st as part of a project sponsored by the World Bank to improve wheat and cotton production in their country through the use of no-till and conservation agriculture approaches.  The tour group was hosted by CASI's Jeff Mitchell who was asked by John Bradley, formerly of the University of Tennessee's legendary Milan Research Center and Monsanto, to coordinate the tour.  Bradley had visited CASI back in the early 2000's when he spoke to us regarding the advances that farmers in Tennessee had made with no-till systems. 

Soil aggregation demonstrations provide to Uzbek visitors in the CASI NRI Project field in Five Points, CA
The Uzbek farmers were hosted by Danny Royer of Bowles Farming in Los Banos, Gary and Mari Martin in Firebaugh, Don Cameron in Helm, Mark and Connor McKean in Riverdale, and John Diener in Five Points.  They also took part in a presentation/discussion on conservation agriculture and a field tour of the NRI Project at the Five Points field station that was hosted by Jeff Mitchell and Geoff Koch, a graduate student at UC Davis who is working with the Martins in Firebaugh and Mitchell in Five Points on a new CDFA Healthy Soils Project study of cover crop impacts on soil function.

Uzbekistan has a very similar climate to California's San Joaquin Valley and thus, the tour group visited largely arid regions of the US including stops in Lubbock, TX, Goodyear, AZ and Five Points, CA.  The World Bank is working with Uzbek farmers with the transition to no-till cotton systems and technologies as a means of invigorating the private sector agricultural economy. 

Uzbek farmers with Danny Royer at Bowles Farming, Los Banos, CA
Don Cameron of Helm, CA hosts farmers from Uzbekistan July 31, 2018
Mark McKean, Riverdale, CA, showing Uzbekistan farmers his cotton fields
Uzbekistan tour group visiting John Diener of Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, CA


Posted on Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 4:26 PM

CASI's Munk and Mitchell talk crop and soil management with Sustainable Cotton group in Mendota, CA, July 24, 2018!

Veteran UC Cooperative Extension Advisor, Dan Munk, of Fresno County, leading discussion of mid-season cotton crop and water management, at the July 24th public field day at Pikalok Farms in Mendota, CA.
CASI's Dan Munk, UC Advisor in Fresno County, and Jeff Mitchell, Cropping Systems Specialist out of the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis, shared knowledge and experience that they've developed over the years with a highly engaged and interactive group of cotton farmers on July 24th at a public field day hosted by Sustainable Cotton at Pikalok Farms in Mendota, CA.  Gary and Mari Martin of Pikalok graciously hosted the educational event that turned out to be a quite-animated and instructive, frank exchange among all participants.  Sustainable Cotton has been active in the San Joaquin Valley as a convener of information on alternative practices and approaches to cotton farming that use less chemical inputs.  Munk provided a thorough discussion of important mid-season crop and water management topics and Mitchell challenged the group with respect to opportunities for using reduced disturbance and soil health techniques.  The session was also part of the outreach and educational program of a California Department of Food and Agriculture Healthy Soils Program project, Securing the future of highly productive annual cropping systems in California, that involves monitoring sites at Pikalok Farms in Mendota and the longstanding NRI Project in Five Points.  A follow-up summary of Mitchell's presentation and discussion on the under-valued importance of soil care in most annual cropping systems in California today will be posted at the CASI blog site during the coming days.



Posted on Monday, July 30, 2018 at 8:28 AM

CASI receives 2018 Award of Excellence from the Western Extension Directors Association!

UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston (left), Fresno County Advisor and CASI member Dan Munk (center), and ANR Associate Vice President, Wendy Powers (right)
July 10, 2018 

The Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation (CASI) Center received this year's Award of Excellence from the Western Extension Directors Association (WEDA).  CASI's Dan Munk received the recognition on behalf of our Center on July 10 following a presentation he delivered on our goals and accomplishments at the group's annual conference in Guam.

WEDA is made up of the following states and territories:  Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Micronesia, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.  Their annual Awards of Excellence Program was created in 2005 to recognize Extension outreach education programming that has achieved outstanding accomplishments, results, and impacts in addressing contemporary issues in one or more of the 13 Western states and Pacific Island US Territories.   

The group that submitted our application for consideration for this year's recognition included Brenna Aegerter, Howard Ferris, Amelie Gaudin, Temarat Ghezzehei, Kurt Hembree, William Horwath, Louise Jackson, Betsy Karle, Sarah Light, Mark Lundy, Dan Marcum, Milt McGiffen, Glenn McGourty, Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, Jeff Mitchell, Gene Miyao, Dan Munk, Tapan Pathak, Samuel Sandoval-Solis, Gary Sposito, Scott Stoddard, Tom Turini, Amber Vinchesi, Jeannette Warner, and Daniele Zaccaria. 

Congratulations to all and special thanks to Dan Munk for making the trip to Guam on our behalf!

Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 12:54 PM

NRCS Mississippi soil scientist, Allen Curry, visits NRI Project with CASI's Roy, Munk, Koch and Mitchell!

(L to R) Rob Roy, Allen Curry, Geoff Koch, Dan Munk
June 27, 2018

The NRCS Soil Scientist for Mississippi, Allen Curry, who is on a two-month detail visiting the Fresno Area Office with Area Agronomist and long-time CASI Workgroup member, Rob Roy, visited the CASI NRI Project in Five Points, CA and engaged in a lively discussion with Dan Munk, Geoff Koch and Jeff Mitchell at the study site.  Curry is working with Roy on a number of efforts and is having the opportunity to see how the NRCS operates in California as part of his training exchange.   The group observed the tomato and garbanzo plots before heading to El Ranchero Café in Five Points for a sumptuous luncheon that many CASI visitors in the past have also experienced.  A warm CASI welcome to Allen Curry!


Posted on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 at 4:26 PM

Debating California Tillage

Alan Wilcox, left, and Jeff Mitchell debate the challenges and opportunities for conservation tillage.
UC ANR scientist debates conservation tillage practices with industry leader

Alan Wilcox of Wilcox Agri-Products and UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jeff Mitchell debated the challenges and opportunities for increased implementation of conservation tillage practices on California farms during the World Ag Expo in February, reported Alan Stenum in Farm Equipment magazine.

Wilcox said farmers are going to be resistant to anything they suspect will affect yield. Mitchell said creative innovation underway will have a big impact on some of the more challenging crops that are grown in California.

"This is a region where costs are high. The cost of doing business is high, and maximum yields on any crop are important to even break even," Wilcox said. "We're going to be intensely committed to water management and the maximum amount of water."

Mitchell said farmers in other parts of the U.S. started to switch to reduced disturbance no-till systems to conserve water.

"The recognition of the value of that opportunity to reduce soil water evaporation and have more water going through the crops through transpiration hasn't really sunk in here in California in large fashion," Mitchell said.

While Mitchell noted that water is essential to the discussion of conservation agriculture, there are other important aspects to consider.

"Biological cycling of nutrients in the soil, tightening up the system so there are fewer losses, either to the groundwater as some sort of pollution, or improving the overall soil function and nutrition provision capacity of the soil - that's not a small aspect of the overall system, nor are the opportunities for reducing costs," Mitchell said.

Wilcox said he would characterize the argument differently.

"The point is in all of our tillage strategies - and in every situation - we never compromise yield," he said.

Read the complete debate in Farm Equipment magazine.

More information about the use of conservation agriculture practices can be found on the UC Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation website.







Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 8:36 AM

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