Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

Conservation agriculture news

No-till and strip-till dairy silage production - one of the few annual cropping sectors in CA that addresses the important soil health principle of preserving residues

September 12, 2010

Dairy silage fields under no-till and strip-till are some of the only annual cropping systems in California that address the important soil health principle of generating and preserving surface residues.  While most annual crop fields are without residues due to intensive tillage practices that essentially make them disappear completely, no-till and strip-till silage farmers are achieving this key soil care practice that is otherwise ignored in most fields in the state.



Posted on Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 4:58 PM

Rewarding farmers for their practices - A dialogue between buyers and farmers slated for September 17, 2020

Getting ahead of marketplace demands – What farmers can do  -

August 31, 2020 

“Last fall, I participated in the National Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Indianapolis, IN,” says Jeff Mitchell, Cropping Systems Cooperative Extension Specialist with the University of California, Davis.

This was a very large gathering of over 650 people representing various sectors of the food system.

 One of the main messages in the keynote address of this meeting that was delivered by Patricia Stroup, Vice President of Nestle, - the largest buyer and seller of food in the world was that “if you want to sell your food to us, you'll meet our specifications.”  

A rather blunt warning to farmers about how they do things.

“And I don't know how far along it's gotten,” Mitchell adds, “but there are now apparently efforts under way in Europe mandating an increase in organic agriculture to 20%, along with a 50% reduction in pesticide use and 20% less fertilizer use by 2030.”

“I know a farmer though, who is quite fond of saying that he doesn't want to be told how he should farm.” 

He is quite literally way out ahead of these sorts of supply chain, or for that matter, government pressured that are now beginning to be seen.

It is not at all exaggerating to say that buyers are ‘beating a pathway to his farm' because they want to buy what he grows.

He is beyond being pressured.

The question of what farmers may start to do to be ahead of marketplace demands is what will be discussed in a public webinar that will be held on September 17th from 9 AM to noon. 

A $10 registration fee to offset meeting coordination expenses and to support the long-term research work in Five Points may be paid by registering early at 

Cotton growing following soil health management practices of reduced disturbance and surface residue preservation, Five Points, CA

Posted on Monday, August 31, 2020 at 6:59 AM

Healthy soils for healthy profits - How do we get to $2.50/lb cotton in the SJV? Webinar Introductory Video on You Tube -

August 16, 2020

Announcing the webinar, Healthy Soils for Healthy Profits - How do we get to $2.50/lb cotton in the SJV? slated for September 17, 2020 from 9:00 AM to Noon.  Registration is now open at:

A short introductory video including interviews with presentingSJV farmers is available at

Sign up now!


Capture You Tube SJV Soil Health Video 2020
Capture You Tube SJV Soil Health Video 2020

Posted on Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 1:17 PM

Healthy soils for healthy profits - How do we get to $2.50/lb cotton in the SJV?

JM HealthySoils Sept17-St
JM HealthySoils Sept17-St

Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 3:59 PM

Old theory drives new soil heatlh research in California!

July 7, 2020

“Generating and preserving surface residues on the soil – despite being one of the core principles of just about all of the soil health movements and government programs these days – has had very little play in most agricultural fields in California now for nearly ninety years.” That stark assertion come from experienced Cropping Systems Extension Specialist and leader of the State's Conservation Agriculture Center, Jeff Mitchell, who's been in the trenches tinkering with systems that couple residue-preserving and reduced disturbance practices for nearly 30 years.

 “The body of research knowledge and experiences on the values of high residue systems is enormous,” Mitchell says, “ and yet most folks in California have not come around to them.” Scientific theory supports the role of residues in reducing soil water evaporation and weed emergence, cooling the soil, and increasing soil carbon gain. “And this theoretical underpinning is now guiding our expanded work with high residue systems to better understand the value they may have in improving biodiversity as well as the efficiency of the carbon, nitrogen and water cycles in California's food production systems,” says Mitchell about the new work that is now underway at several farm study sites throughout the State.

Most annual crop fields that you'll drive by in California typically have close to zero residue on them. “Residues are pretty much managed to make them disappear,” Mitchell observes. Yet, several studies from both irrigated and rainfed regions around the US and including our own work in Five Points have shown that when no-tillage is coupled with high residues, annual irrigation savings can be as much as 4 to 5 inches. In several areas including the Central Great Plains of the US, no-till, high residue practices have positively affected agricultural management and local farm economies with both the intensification and diversification of cropping systems. “What we're doing at this point is trying to figure out just how these residue practices might actually work in various California production systems and minimizing risks associated with transitioning to them.”

More information on these types of systems will be shared on July 23rd as part of the Desert Southwest Soil Health Webinar (, slated for July 23rd from 8 AM through 6 PM.

Accompanying photo caption

High residue, no-tillage and cover cropped surface soil conditions achieved in 21-year conservation agriculture research study in Five Points, CA showing the extent of residue cover that can be achieved when these practices are coupled together.

Residue 2020
Residue 2020

Posted on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at 9:58 AM

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