Conservation agriculture news
Ramos and Guido count on a number of “systems benefits” from their use of cover crops including better overall soil tilth via cover crop-derived inputs of carbon, better water movement throughout their 60-inch drip-irrigated tomato beds, and this year, - they are actually making money from the sale of the above ground portion of their cover crops to a nearby dairy as silage.
Ahead of their 2015 tomato crops, they've grown various mixes of cover crops that range from their standard triticale, mustard and vetch blend, to five very diverse mixtures including triticale-, rye-, barley-, and black oats-based, - and an especially high diversity mix of sixteen species.
In the field day that they hosted with Jeff Mitchell of the CASI (Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation) Center at UC Davis, they talked about how they managed their 2015 cover crops and what they are hoping to get from them. Each of the mixtures was drill-seeded last October on the tops of their tomato beds, - not in the furrow bottoms, at rates ranging from 60 to 70 lbs/acre. They sprinkler-irrigated their fields as pre-irrigation ahead of this year's tomato crop and said that they applied only one and a half to two inches of additional water for the cover crops. After chopping and removing the above ground materials for silage that is going to a dairy in the Chowchilla area, they will run a strip-tiller to till the centers of their beds and to apply herbicide, before transplanting tomatoes. Later during the tomato season, they'll shallowly work in the remaining cover crop stubble during one of their weed cultivation operations.
Long-term research conducted by a team of UC researchers in Five Points has shown that cover crops, - and particularly cover crops coupled with no-tillage practices, - have increased soil carbon from about 8.8 tons/acre at the start of the study in 1999, to about 12.9 tons/acre in the top foot of soil after eight years.
Further information on the February 26th cover crop field day is available at the CASI website (http://casi.ucanr.edu/) and by viewing a summary video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V00CaEqUbE8&feature=em-upload_owner
A link to the article published in Agronomy Journal is available below.
Also posted here is an audio interview and discussion of this article. Please use the link below to hear this discussion.
CASI invites you to take part in a very interesting field educational event this Thursday, February 26th, at one of the fields of Danny Ramos and Jonathan Guido of Lucero Farms just south of Hwy 152 about midway between Los Banos and Chowchilla. Take 152 from either the east or west and then take Flanagan Road south about a mile. From there, turn east (left) onto Avenue 21 and follow this road about a mile or so till you see our sign on the right side of the road. Take the dirt road south about a couple hundred yards to the cover crop field.
Call Jeff Mitchell that afternoon at (559) 303-9689 if you need help finding the field.
Along with several other private sector, university and NRCS partners, the CASI Center once again took part in the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA this week and hosted a good number of guests at our well-positioned site that we have graciously been allowed to share with long-time CASI members, Alan Wilcox and Juan Trujillo, of Wilcox Agriproducts. An estimated 100,000 visitors took part in this year's equipment and technology show. While most interactions with participants at this event tended to be brief, we were able to engage a good number of folks in discussions about our work and several good contacts have now been made for a range of follow-up connections in the near future. Planning for the 2016 expo will be underway in the near future. If you'd like to participate with us, please contact Jeff Mitchell at (559) 303-9689 or email@example.com.
CASI farmer members, Michael and Adam Crowell of Turlock, Darrell Cordova of Denair, and Scott Schmidt of Five Points, along with Jeff Mitchell, hosted Amelie Gaudin, the new professor of Agroecology in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis at their farms on January 23, 2015 to share with her information about their farms and the efforts they have made to improve their crop production systems. Each of these farmers very graciously welcomed Dr. Gaudin who has been on the job in Davis for only three weeks.
Dr. Amelie Gaudin has tremendous experience with cropping system ecology and is currently establishing her research lab in Davis that is focusing on using agroecological principles to help develop efficient and resilient cropping systems. Three current themes that she will be emphasizing in her research program of her lab group are ecological intensification, climate-smart agroecosystems, and evolutionary root ecology, - all very nicely related to the core goals of our CASI Workgroup.