Conservation agriculture news
May 17, 2019
Andrew Molinar, Product Development Manager, and Keith Heidecorn of Locus Agricultural Solutions of Solon, OH, visited CASI's long-term NRI Project field in Five Points, CA on May 17th as part of the project's ongoing series of open-house Fridays. They viewed the four tillage and cover crop management systems that make up the NRI study and expressed interest in joining the large CIG Project that CASI is leading with several organic vegetable farmers in California.
Andrew Molinar (left) and Keith Heidecorn of Locus Agricultural Solutions visit the NRI Project on May 17th 2019
April 2, 2019
Two irrigation experts, Alex Flores of Yardney Water Filtration Systems in Riverside, CA, and Moises Luna of Agrivalley Company in Fresno, CA visited the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points on April 2, 2019 to discuss with CASI's Jeff Mitchell efforts to upgrade the NRI field's irrigation filtration system. Flores and Luna work with farmers throughout the San Joaquin Valley on irrigation system design and filtration and they graciously offered to help the NRI Project site with state-of-the art irrigation system technologies and equipment for the 2019 season. Our NRI Project team extends our sincere thanks to both Alex and Moises for their visit, time and support!
Moises Luna (left) of Agrivalley Company and Alex Flores of Yardney Water Filtration Systems visit the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA April 2, 2019
April 1, 2019
UC soil physics professors, Teamrat Ghezzehei of UC Merced and Jan Hopmans of UC Davis, along with UCM graduate students Samuel Araya and Jennifer Alvarez, joined CASI's Jeff Mitchell for a visit and research planning meeting at the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA where they are working to characterize soil hydraulic properties and processes in the long-term study site. The group has a research award from California's Department of Water Resources that is enabling them to monitor key soil physical properties including infiltration, water retention, hydraulic conductivity, aggregate stability, and bulk density and their potential relation to increased water use efficiency and system resilience. The work is becoming part of the PhD programs for both Ayala and Alvarez. DWR support has enabled the students to collect samples and to analyze them in the lab of Ghezzehei at UCM. In addition, an in-depth effort has been underway at the site to document soil water depletion under winter cover crops and fallow conditions now for three years. In this most recent site visit and planning meeting that was held on April 1st, the team hosted Jan Hopmans who has been a partner on the work since it was started, but who had not yet visited the study site. Efforts will now continue with Ayala writing up his first publication based on the findings he's come up with and also additional publications that are expected from the study by both Araya and Alvarez. In addition, the team decided to formally begin testing the hypothesis that the changes in soil water intake that have now been documented during the winter period may result in the ability to reduce irrigation applications in certain of the tillage and cover crop management systems. Thanks go out to this great team of soil physics researchers for coming down to the NRI Project field in Five Points!
Teamrat Ghezzezei, Jennifer Alvarez, Samuel Ayala, of UC Merced and Jan Hopmans of UC Davis (left to right), tour the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA April 1, 2019
Jan Hopmans making a point to Teamrat Ghezzehei, Jennifer Alvarez, and Samuel Ayala during the group’s visit and research planning meeting at the NRI Project in Five Points, April 1, 2019
March 26, 2019
A very good group of folks took part in a lively, engaging and very productive visit to Scott and Brian Park's farm in Meridian, CA on March 26, 2019 to push forward ideas and innovations for equipment to help address challenges of achieving reduced disturbance organic production systems. Scott and Brian had prepared ahead of time a full array of implements and pieces of equipment that they've developed in recent years and these items provided ample points of departure for the very fruitful discussion that took place. Paul Muller offered a path forward for near-term equipment acquisition needs that includes a small-width roller-crimper for early-season weed and cover crop management and an adjustable mower much like the one that Scott and Brian have developed. The group is now in the process of continuing the planning and fabrication process so as to have prototype items available as soon as possible. During the wide-ranging discussions that we had, it was abundantly clear to folks who were new to the CIG group just how dedicated and committed we all are to the fundamental goals of developing reduced disturbance approaches for organic systems. This was a very productive and fun session. Our thanks go to Scott and Brian for so graciously hosting us!
CIG group of participants in the March 26, 2019 visit to Park Farming in Meridian, CA.
Scott Park leading discussion of CIG Project equipment ideas.
CIG Project participants talking reduced disturbance organic production equipment.
Scott Park, co-host of the CIG Project’s equipment group, showing finger weeder used by Park Farming.
UC Merced researchers sample soil hydraulic properties in NRI Project in Five Points, CA, March 15, 2019!
March 23, 2019
News blog release for CASI blog site
Dr. Teamrat Ghezzehei, a soil physics researcher and professor at the University of California, Merced, along with Jessica Alvarez, a first-year graduate student working with him, sampled soils from the long-standing NRI Project field in Five Points, CA on March 15th. Alvarez is joining Samuel Araya, another one of Ghezzehei's students in using the NRI site as part of her graduate thesis work. The goals of this work are to determine and characterize soil hydraulic properties and functions in each of the four management systems that have been conducted in the NRI study now for twenty years. These systems vary in tillage intensity and also in terms of organic matter inputs to the soil via off-season winter cover crops. The four experimental treatments are standard tillage without cover crops, standard tillage with cover crops, no-tillage without cover crops, and no-tillage with cover crops. This study site is the only such site in all of California where the reduced disturbance system has been evaluated for so long. Their project has been supported by a grant from California's Department of Water Resources. To date, the study has determined significant changes in a number of soil properties including carbon and nitrogen content, water infiltration, aggregation, and biodiversity. The work of Ghezzehei, Alvarez and Araya will now add a very important piece, - soil water properties and function. We look forward to learning more of what they find soon.
Visitors at the long-term NRI Project field on March 15, 2019 (left to right) Jessica Alvarez, Teamrat Ghezzehei, Tom Willey, Steve Beck, and Tyler Beck
Tyler Beck, Steve Beck, Jessica Alvarez, and Teamrat Ghezzehei discussing soil health at the field station in Five Points, CA March 15, 2019