Conservation agriculture news
VP of New Business Development of the Fremont, CA based company, Advantiv Technologies, Inc., Ed Noma, took time to visit the CASI NRI Project site in Five Points, CA and to talk with Jeff Mitchell about the sorts of agricultural technology services that Advantiv is seeking to provide to farmers in California. Ed came across our CASI Workgroup through his visit of the UC ANR display site at this year's World Ag Expo in February where Workgroup members Jessica Chiartas and Brenna Aegerter were hosting visitors and providing live demonstrations of water stable soil aggregates using soils from the NRI Project study field. We invited Ed to take part with us at the upcoming Food for Thought Showcase of UC Davis's World Food Center that our CASI Workgroup will be participating in on June 4th at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center beginning at 4:00 PM. Several CASI Workgroup folks will be joining us for this event.
April 18, 2018
Scott Martin and Braeden Louder of Arable One, an organic amendment supplier out of Utah, visited the CASI NRI Project field in Five Points to learn about the work that is underway on biological diversity and reduced disturbance food production systems.
Kaisers of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, CA recognized as CASI 2017 Farmer Innovators!
February 28, 2018
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation (CASI) — Organization
Location: Five Points, Calif.
Many were looking to reduce operating costs, some wanted to conserve water by keeping residues on the soil surface, others wanted to improve water movement in their fields and some were dairy farmers looking to save manpower in their operations.
These pioneers were a very diverse lot, including San Joaquin dairy farmers Michael Crowell of Turlock, Tom Barcellos of Tipton and Dino Giacomazzi of Hanford, tomato farmers Jesse Sanchez and Alan Sano of Firebaugh, dryland no-tiller Fritz Durst of Dunnigan Hills, and private sector equipment expert Monte Bottens, a long-time Illinois no-till farmer who has done considerable consulting and equipment innovation work in California.
No matter the reasons, these farmers knew they could make a difference, which ultimately resulted in the creation of the Conservation Agriculture System Innovation (CASI) Center.
Jeff Mitchell, cropping systems extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California-Davis, has been working firsthand with these farmers ever since the group began. He has contributed numerous research efforts on behalf of the group and was one of the first to get the ball rolling.
The organization has more than 2,200 diverse members, including farmers, researchers, NRCS and Resource Conservation District and other university personnel.
Research knowledge includes learning the benefits in money spent, soil health, fuel function, production and reducing greenhouse gas and dust emissions.
Before CASI was formed, California was fairly new to no-till practices, but soon farmers were realizing that something needed to change in their operations to improve soil health. As time went on, this group of pioneering farmers grew into a diverse organization and began sharing and exchanging their successes.
“Some people started sticking their necks out in learning about no-till, developing skills and seeing benefits to the systems in terms of reducing machinery, reducing horsepower, improving soil function and, in a lot of cases, saving water,” Mitchell says. “We had common interests, we supported each other and we were all very eager to learn.”
California is one of the nation's most diverse and historically productive areas, which provides focus for both Mitchell and CASI.
“That means agronomic crop fields, crops like corn, wheat, sorghum, cotton and soybeans, but also vegetables like tomatoes, melons and broccoli,” Mitchell says.
Mitchell is hopeful for the future of the CASI organization and where no-till and soil conservation can take their farmers.
“Another thing we're working on is trying to improve the soil and overall function of the system by using cover crops,” Mitchell says. At this time, cover crops aren't used very much in California's production system, so one of the things we've been trying to do in addition to no-till is develop and evaluate opportunities for farmers to use cover crops as their additional means to improve the soil and soil function.”