Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

Conservation agriculture news

New CASI video available

New CASI video available on "Twenty years of no-tilled double-cropped cotton and wheat in Goodyear, AZ" at


For over twenty years, Ron, Robert, and Earl Rayner of Goodyear, AZ have been perfecting a very interesting and successful system of no-tilled double-cropped cotton and wheat at A Tumbling T Ranches in Goodyear, AZ.  Their motivations and techniques for this highly innovative system, as well as the many very interesting things that they've learned over the years about how best to implement the practices that they employ are now chronicled in a 41-minute video that is available at the You Tube link above.

The video captures quite a lot of very good innovation and also sheds light on many very important aspects of conservation agriculture including risk management, the overall value of reduced disturbance residue-preserving practices, along with things that the Rayners have learned over the years related to water use efficiency, soil function, and farm sustainability. 

Special thanks to Ron Rayner for taking the time to share the many years of dedicated effort in this video.

A shorter, revised version of the video will be available later this year following the 2017 cotton harvest.


Posted on Monday, July 17, 2017 at 9:54 AM

UC Merced soil physics researchers visit NRI Project in Five Points


Teamrat Ghezzehei, Samuel Araya, Essey Afewerki, and Jing Yan, (left to right) at the NRI Project field in Five Points, July 12, 2017
UC Merced soil physics professor, Teamrat Ghezzehei, along with Post-Doc researcher, Jing Yan, PhD student Samuel Araya, and Teamrat's son, Essey Afewerki, visited the longstanding NRI Project in Five Points on July 12th to orient themselves regarding upcoming research they'll be conducting on hydraulic properties of the soils at the site.  A recently-funded DWR project, Increasing Water Use Efficiency and Drought Resilience in California Agriculture, will be the basis of the PhD research of Araya, who's starting up at UC Merced after receiving his MS degree at UC Merced and his BS at UC Davis.  The objectives of Araya and Ghezzehei's research will be to 1) compare soil hydraulic properties between conservation agriculture systems with conventional tillage with and without cover following 18 years of management in the NRI Project field, 2) quantify the changes in soil water storage with cover crops and fallow to determine the impact of cover crops on the soil water balance, 3) characterize the relationship between soil physical properties associated with soil water dynamics and water use efficiency and system resilience across multiple farm sites in the CV, and 4) to develop and implement an outreach program to disseminate the information and findings from this project to the region.  This UC Merced team will be working with others who've been involved with the study over the years including Randy Southard, Jan Hopmans, Will Horwath and Jeff Mitchell of UC Davis, Dan Munk of UC ANR Fresno County, Marsha Campbell of UC ANR Stanislaus County, Anil Shrestha of Fresno State, Jerry Hatfield of the USDA ARS National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, IA, Robert Roy, Genett Carstensen, Joe Williams, Margaret Smither-Kopperl, Tony Rolfes, Zahangir Kabir and Brook Gale of USDA NRCS, private sector partners, Monte Bottens, Alan Wilcox, Matt and Silas Rossow, and Cary Crum of Cal Ag Solutions, local farmers, John Diener, Scott Schmidt, Jesse Sanchez, Alan Sano, Dino Giacomazzi, Michael Crowell, and Tom Barcellos, and Mitchell's mentor, Dwayne Beck of South Dakota State University and the Dakota Lakes Research Farm.  This team is eagerly awaiting the start of the project's work this fall and to the understanding that Ghezzehei and Araya will be contributing to how no-till and cover crop management have impacted soil physical and hydraulic properties in the NRI Project study.

Ghezzehei hails originally from Eritrea where he tells us, “We don't have traditional last name;  thus, my son's last name is my dad's first name just like my last name is my grandfather's first name.”  Essey is a sixth-grader at a Merced elementary school. 

Following their visit to the NRI Project field, Teamrat, Essey, Samuel and Jing joined NRI Project representative, Jeff Mitchell, for a traditional CASI hospitality lunch at El Ranchero Café in Five Points where the group had a chance to talk with local Westside farmers and learn more about the water shortage issues they face.


Posted on Monday, July 17, 2017 at 9:36 AM

Links to two short introductory videos on the California Farm Demonstration Network

Links to two short introductory videos on the California Farm Demonstration Network are now available at the CASI website

The first one is about 8 minutes long and presents a number of the farmers and features of the Network.  The second one is a shorter, 3 minute, introduction to the Network.

The California Farm Demonstration Network is an partnership between the California Farm Bureau Federation, the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the University of California, Davis, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts to expand the adoption of improved performance, conservation agriculture farm production practices and systems in California.  It  relies on a series of local hubs showcasing various farm demonstrations of a wide range of conservation agriculture, climate-smart, and healthy soils systems are being evaluated. 

Full video link:


Trailer Link:


Posted on Monday, July 3, 2017 at 10:41 AM

CASI Hosts California Ag Solutions at longstanding NRI Project field June 27, 2017

NRI field project
Eight members of California Ag Solutions of Madera, CA were hosted at the longstanding NRI Project field in Five Points on Tuesday, June 27th by Jeff Mitchell.

The group was keen to see how the garbanzo planting that they had helped with had turned out and also how the 2017 no-till sorghum is performing.  Monte Bottens, Matt and Silas Rossow, and Cary Crum of CAS took part along with three other members of the Madera headquarters crew.  The tour visit allowed everyone to view the rather dramatic and surprising growth of the no-till sorghum which seemed to be taller and more vigorous than this year's standard tillage systems. 

In addition, the group also visited this year's trial of no-till cotton that was established in standing rye cover crop using row unit-mounted DAWN ZRX's.  These implements roll standing cover crops and allow seeding all in the same operation.

Now is a very good time to visit the NRI Project field as there is much to see related to the performance of the no-till crops this season.




Posted on Monday, July 3, 2017 at 10:35 AM

CASI Meets with UC ANR Leadership – June 20, 2017!


Left to right: Jeff Mitchell, Marsha Campbell, Wendy Powers, Betsy Karle, Mark Bell.
CASI's Betsy Karle, UCCE Glenn County, Marsha Campbell, UCCE Stanislaus County, and Jeff Mitchell, UC Davis Plant Sciences, met with UC ANR Associate Vice President, Wendy Powers, and Statewide Programs Director, Mark Bell in the ANR state offices in Davis, CA on June 20 to update them on the history, evolution, and accomplishments of our CASI Workgroup and the California Farm Demonstration Network, and to also invite them to become part of the Network's Steering Committee.  We are quite happy to report that on behalf of ANR, Wendy will become part of the Steering Committee and that when she is unable to participate in its meetings, that Mark will take her place.  This is very good news and will be an important addition not only to the Committee, but also to the eventual work of the statewide farm demonstration network.  Both Wendy and Mark have different sorts of experiences in their earlier careers that ought to be very useful to the Network and to the Steering Committee as it gears up to begin actual implementation of the activities that are now being developed.




Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 9:21 AM

First storyPrevious 5 stories  |  Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: