Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

Conservation agriculture news

UCD student begins CDFA Healthy Soils Program project in San Joaquin Valley!

May 4, 2018


New UCD PhD student, Geoff Koch, who is working with Will Horwath on San Joaquin Valley Healthy Soils Program effort.
UCD graduate student, Geoff Koch, and former CDFA Environmental Farming Act's Science Advisory Committee Director, Don Cameron of Helm, CA.
Geoff Koch (left) meeting Mendota farmer, Gary Martin.
Geoff Koch, a brand new PhD student in the Department of Soils and Biogeochemistry at the University of California, Davis, working with soil scientist, Will Horwath, and CASI Cooperative Extension partners, Jeff Mitchell and Dan Munk, began his research project in earnest this week with a whirlwind tour of the San Joaquin Valley study sites where he'll be monitoring soil function and greenhouse emissions during the coming two and a half years.  He is working on a CDFA Healthy Soils Program project, “Securing the future of highly productive annual cropping systems in California,” that will be implemented in the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points where he will compare impacts of reduced disturbance tillage and cover crops on soil health and at the Mendota, CA farm of Gary and Mari Martin where he'll investigate the effects of winter cover crops.  Geoff will be in charge of much of the data collection at these sites and for analysis of information that is generated by the project.  During his first week on the job, Geoff visited both sites and had chances to meet the Martins and to also meet Don Cameron, the former Director of CDFA's Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Committee which was initially responsible for getting the Healthy Soils  and State Water Efficiency Enhancement Programs up and running.  We look forward to many very good contributions from Geoff during the coming few years and we welcome him to this exciting new project!




Posted on Friday, May 4, 2018 at 3:56 PM

No-till tomato transplanting April 23, 2018 in Five Points, CA

May 3, 2018

No till tomato transplanting. Five Points, CA. April 23, 2018.
No-till transplanter used for establishing tomatoes in sorghum, garbanzo, and cover crop residue. Five Points, CA. April 23, 2018.
A short video showing no-till tomato transplanting into sorghum, garbanzo and cover crop residues is now available at the You Tube link - .  This experimental activity took place in the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points, CA that is evaluating a variety of cropping system efforts to reduce disturbance, promote biological diversity, decrease emissions, and improve soil function.  Several local project partners including farmers, USDA NRCS, private sector, and other agency folks have been part of this study since it was started back in 1999.  Over the years, this research has documented significant changes in a number of soil properties or characteristics including increase carbon and nitrogen, greater abundance and diversity of several biological indicators, improved infiltration and aggregation, lower fuel use and dust emissions, and reduced costs.  The study is now phasing into an effort to evaluate more vegetable crops using reduced disturbance techniques.

Posted on Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 8:04 AM

UCD Undergrad, Anna Gomes, Shares Research on Tradeoffs of Cover Crop Water Use in NRI Project Study!

April 27, 2018 


UCD undergrad Anna Gomes
Anna Gomes, a senior student in Agricultural Education at UC Davis, presented the research project that she is working on at the 2018 Undergraduate Research Conference that was held on the UC Davis campus on April 27th.  Her work focuses on tradeoffs associated with using cover crops in annual cropping systems and is based on data from the CASI National Research Initiative (NRI) Project that has been underway since 1999. 


Locations of farm and field station cover crop water use monitoring sites

Anna's presentation provided findings from the past two years of intensive soil water content monitoring during the winter cover crop growing period.  She has been working with a large team of collaborators that includes Dan Munk, UCCE Advisor in Fresno County, Daniele Zaccaria and Samuel Sandoval-Solis, UCCE Water Management Specialists at UCD, Alyssa DeVincentis, graduate student in Sandoval-Solis's lab, Sloane Rice, Junior Specialist in Zaccaria's lab, Khaled Bali, UCCE Water Management Specialist at the Kearney Agricultural Center in Parlier, and a number of long-time local farmer, private sector and NRC partners who've been involved with the work in various ways.  This team is working at a number of farm sites throughout California's Central Valley to determine impacts of growing cover crops on soil water storage during the winter.   The research team hopes to have their data published by the end of summer 2019.


UCD cover crop water use study team. (L to R) Jeff Mitchell, Samuel Sandoval-Solis, Sloane Rice, Anna Gomes, and Alyssa DeVincentis




Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 8:10 AM

Down on the Farm with Tom and Denesse Willey

January 5, 2018

KFCF 88.1 FM Fresno


The hour-long “Down on the Farm with Tom Willey” radio program for January 5, 2018 is now posted at our CASI website.  In this segment of Tom's monthly program, he is joined by his farming partner, Denesse, and the two of them talk about their farm and the successful small business that they had at T & D Willey Farms for so many years in Madera, CA.  The tables are turned on the show's usual host, Tom, this time with guest host, Jeff Mitchell, having a nice conversation with his good friends, Tom and Denesse.

Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 8:14 AM

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

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