Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

Conservation agriculture news

Tony Turkovich featured in UC research video

The 2007 recipient of the Conservation Tillage Innovator of the Year Award, Tony Turkovich, was featured in a recent research video by the UC Office of the President.

See the video here:

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Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Second annual *twilight* conservation tillage field day


Jeff Mitchell addresses farmers at last year's twilight CT field day.
The Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Institute will hold its second annual twilight field tour and barbecue from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center, 17353 W. Oakland Ave., Five Points.

Participants will learn how San Joaquin Valley farmers are using overhead, mechanized, automated irrigation and conservation tillage to cut production costs. Overhead irrigation and conservation tillage also have the potential to improve soil quality, save water and cut back on agricultural dust emissions.

The late afternoon program will include research updates on trials with wheat, corn, tomatoes, onions, cotton and broccoli. Industry presenters will discuss the basics of water delivery devices and initial design and operation considerations for center pivot irrigation systems. Updates on the profitability and impacts of conservation tillage cotton and tomato production systems on soil properties will also be provided by UC and CSU Fresno researchers.

During the barbeque dinner, recipients of the 2011 Conservation Tillage Farmer Innovator Awards will be announced. This year’s session will also feature a number of awards for private sector innovation in CT and irrigation. A farmer panel composed of Armando Galvan, Darrell Cordova, Scott Schmidt and John Diener will discuss recent farm experiences with overhead irrigation and the evening will wrap up with a farm visit to one of the pivots of Scott Schmidt at Farming ‘D.’

For more information, contact institute chair Jeff Mitchell at

JM TwilightBBQ2011
JM TwilightBBQ2011

Posted on Friday, August 19, 2011 at 2:10 PM

CT research compares subsurface drip with overhead irrigation

The Conservation Tillage workgroup has initiated a long-term study that directly compares the use of subsurface drip irrigation and overhead irrigation in a diverse no-till crop rotation. The drip lines are buried 10 to 12 inches deep, which will allow the scientists to experiment with a number of different crops over the next 6 or 7 years.

"We're trying to look at the flexibility of flat planting, diversity in cropping and drip irrigation, which is becoming the standard in many crops, and comparing this with overhead, automated mechanized irrigation," said workgroup chair Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist. "We want to study what the future is going to be."

Currently, nearly all the Central California acreage of processing tomatoes is drip irrigated; cotton, in contrast, is still mostly grown with furrow irrigation. An increasing amount of acreage is also being irrigated with overhead, mechanized irrigation systems in recent years.  In addition to cotton and tomatoes, the researchers plan to grow onions, broccoli and wheat on the plots.

Farmers visited the site of the new research during a workgroup meeting June 28 at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center near Five Points. At the first stop, the researchers introduced growers to conservation tillage research that compares no-till cotton and tomatoes planted in the residue of cover crops with crops grown using standard practices. These plots are furrow irrigated.

Data about soil surface water evaporation, soil temperature variances, nutrient differences, weed management, plant growth and yield are being collected.

In addition to generating data about the use of conservation tillage in California production systems, the CT workgroup encourages farmers to try conservation tillage in their own operations.

Jeff Mitchell, in the foreground, addresses participants from a conservation tillage research plot.
Jeff Mitchell, in the foreground, addresses participants from a conservation tillage research plot.

Drip-irrigated conservation tillage plots will be managed side-by-side with overhead-irrigated plots.
Drip-irrigated conservation tillage plots will be managed side-by-side with overhead-irrigated plots.

Jim Burton of AgRobotics Farming Innovations explains his invention, which makes soil sampling fast and easy.
Jim Burton of AgRobotics Farming Innovations explains his invention, which makes soil sampling fast and easy.

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 1:27 PM

Congressman Costa visits CT workgroup


Left to right, farmer John Diener, U.S. Rep. Jim Costa and UCCE farm advisor Dan Munk.
United States Congressman Jim Costa met with the Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center on April 27. During the meeting, he voiced his support for increasing implementation of conservation tillage farming systems. Costa is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, which is laying the groundwork for the reauthorization of the Farm Bill in 2012.

Workgroup member Ron Harben, air quality planner and coordinator with the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, asked the congressman for $5 million over five years to study the adoption process and fund CT extension activities.

Harben suggested U.S. representatives create a California agriculture caucus in order to work together to ensure the state, the No. 1 ag producer in the nation, gets its fair share of federal support for agricultural programs.

Costa said he liked the idea of establishing a California ag caucus.

"The question is how to put it together without it becoming political," he said. "We had such a caucus with 21 bipartisan members. It worked pretty well for a number of years."


Congressman Jim Costa comments about conservation tillage in this 90-second video.

Posted on Monday, May 2, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Jeff Mitchell touts CT on KMJ radio

UC Davis cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell appeared a Fresno morning ag show on KMJ 580 am radio. The radio story is archived online, about midway through the hour-long broadcast.

Mitchell conducted a phone interview with host Sean Michael Lisle in which he said national experts on no-till and strip-till came to California to encourage the state's farmers to try conservation tillage, which can conserve water, suppress dust, reduce runoff, lower labor costs, save fuel and sequester carbon.

"There is a growing interest now in these kinds of systems that potentially can reduce production costs and can have a number of adjunct benefits associated with them, and that would be quite new for California," Mitchell said on the program. "Currently in California, very little of the annual crops, row crops, field crops are grown with these kinds of practices."

Mitchell said the dairy industry has been particularly receptive to the idea.

"Our workgroup has documented some rather significant changes in tillage practices in the last 6 years," Mitchell said. "The adoption of these kinds of practices has actually gone up to about 20 percent of the acreage from about 2 percent in that time period."

Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 12:11 PM

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