Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

Conservation agriculture news

Advantiv’s Ed Noma visits CASI’s NRI Study in Five Points

Ed Noma
April 20, 2018

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.

Posted on Monday, April 23, 2018 at 11:57 AM

CASI ANR team begins two new CDFA soil health projects!

April 18, 2018

Soil Health Team
Seven UC ANR Advisors along with UCD professor, Will Horwath, and CE Specialist Jeff Mitchell, have been awarded two new projects by CDFA's Healthy Soils Program.  The work will be conducted in the four Central Valley counties of Sutter/Yuba, San Joaquin, Merced and Fresno with local farmer partners.  In addition, work will be conducted at the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points.  The ANR Advisor team consists of Sarah Light and Amber Vinchesi from Sutter/Yuba, Brenna Aegerter and Michelle Leinfelder-Miles in San Joaquin, Scott Stoddard from Merced, and Dan Munk in Fresno County.  Two students in the Department of Soils and Biogeochemistry will work with the ANR team to collect soil and greenhouse gas emission data from each farm demonstration evaluation site.   Farmer partners will be including cover crops into their farm crop rotations and this practice will be compared with a no cover crop control system.  The team held a kick-off planning meeting at the UCCE offices in San Joaquin County on April 17, 2018. 

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 8:09 AM

Organic Amendment Suppliers Visit NRI Project in Five Points!

S. Martin and B. Louder of Arable One
April 4, 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. 




Posted on Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 8:50 AM

Kaisers of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, CA recognized as CASI 2017 Farmer Innovators!




Kaisers of Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, CA recognized as CASI 2017 Farmer Innovators!

February 28, 2018


Farmer meeting on February 28, 2018 at Park Farming, Meridian, CA at which innovative reduced disturbance organic vegetable production systems were discussed and at which the Kaisers were recognized as CASI’s 2017 Farmer Innovators
The Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser Family and their farming partners at Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, CA were recognized as 2017 Conservation Agriculture Farmer Innovators at a ceremony that took place on February 28, 2018 as part of a meeting on reduced disturbance organic vegetable systems at the farm of Scott Park in Meridian, CA.  The system that the Kaisers have developed relies on an approach that makes use of compost applications to essentially undisturbed planting beds that cycle quickly through a diverse vegetable rotation.  Their unique no-till system, unprecedented in organic vegetable farming, is key to Singing Frogs' immense productivity.  Virtually weed-free permanent beds, top-dressed with several inches of compost, can be cleared of one finished crop's residue of a morning, then replanted to another from the greenhouse that same afternoon.  Such rapid turnaround of garden beds enables the Kaisers to harvest five sequential market crops over twelve months in a climate with fewer than 228 frost-free days.  Additional background information about the Kaisers farm can be found at the website of Craftsman Quarterly at .



Farmer meeting on February 28, 2018 at Park Farming, Meridian, CA at which innovative reduced disturbance organic vegetable production systems were discussed and at which the Kaisers were recognized as CASI’s 2017 Farmer Innovators



Posted on Monday, March 19, 2018 at 8:41 AM

Acknowledgement of National No-till farmer 2017 Organization Innovator Recognition

Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation (CASI) — Organization

Location: Five Points, Calif.

CASI Workgroup members Jeff Mitchell (second from left), Michael Crowell (third from left), and Monte Bottens (right) receiving National No-till Farmer 2017 Organization Innovator acknowledgement at the 2018 Annual Conference of the Association in Louisville, KY, January 23, 2018
In 1998, a group of select pioneering farmers came together with different reasons for using no-till, but had one common goal of bettering the soil in the state of California.

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.”

Written by Brooke Haas
Posted at the website of the National No-till Farmer Magazine
January 13, 2018

Posted on Monday, March 19, 2018 at 8:06 AM

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