Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
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Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

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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

National No-till Farmer Association - Recognition of CASI as 2017 Organization Innovator

March 10, 2018

No-Till Award Presentation in Louisville, KY
Our CASI (Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation) Center was recognized as the Organization Innovator for 2017 by the National No-till Farmer Association at their recent annual meeting in Louisville, KY.  Over 990 no-till farmers were in attendance.  CASI members Michael Crowell, Monte Bottens and Jeff Mitchell received the acknowledgement on behalf of our Workgroup.

A summary article on the recognition can be seen at the link here. 


Posted on Monday, March 12, 2018 at 8:09 AM

CASI Hosts USDA ARS’s Doug Karlen of the National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment


Jeff Mitchell, Roberto Botehl, Doug Karlen, Hudson Minshew, Rich Collins, Jessica Chiartas, Tony Rolfes, and Zahangir Kabir (left to right)
Seven CASI Workgroup members had the very good opportunity to host Dr. Doug Karlen, well-known soil scientist from the USDA ARS National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, IA on March 5th in Davis, CA.  The group included NRCSers Zahangir Kabir, Tony Rolfes, Hudson Minshew, UCD Soils PhD student, Jessica Chiartas, local Davis farmer, Rich Collins, Brazilian no-till vegetable researcher, Roberto Botelho, and Jeff Mitchell.  Karlen was one of the first researchers back in the mid-1990's to publish research work on the soil quality, - now soil health, - concept.  He also has conducted wide-ranging research on biofuel crops and tradeoffs associated with residue removal as energy feedstock material and soil function.  This was the second recent trip Karlen has made to the area and the CASI group had a very good chance to talk with him about a range of open-ended topics including ideas for increasing the adoption of soil health or soil care practices, successful farm demonstration networks, and whether soils that have had considerable carbon inputs through cover crops along with reduced disturbance tillage might be less leaky and have lower emissions to the groundwater and the atmosphere than conventionally managed soils.  CASI salutes Doug Karlen for the lively and very engaging dialogue we had with him!


Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 9:31 AM

USDA's Brennan hosts Fresno State's Shrestha and Brazil's Botelho!

News Release
March 1, 2018
Salinas, CA

Eric Brennen, Anil Shrestha, and Roberto Botelho
USDA's Brennan hosts Fresno State's Shrestha and Brazil's Botelho!

Eric Brennan, the well-renowned USDA ARS organic vegetable systems researcher in Salinas, CA provided a simply wonderful and very gracious hosting of Anil Shrestha, also a well-recognized weed ecologist and professor at Fresno State University and Roberto Botelho, a leading no-till vegetable researcher in Sao Paolo state Brazil on March 1, 2018 at the USDA ARS long-term organic research plots.  Brennan provided a wealth of information and content based on his career's worth of organic production systems research for a video that Shrestha is working on as part of a CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program project that is preparing a series of 30 videos for use in courses at Fresno State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Chico State and UC Davis.  The video will feature information Brennan has developed on the use of cover crops in organic vegetable production systems and it will feature his vast and quite unique experiences with all aspects of cover cropping in these systems.   

Posted on Monday, March 5, 2018 at 9:21 AM

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