Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

Conservation agriculture news

CASI’s Diener and Mitchell, and CalCAN’s Renata Brillinger on Drought Resilience Panel at the Berkeley Food Institute

Food Exchange Flyer




CASI members, John Diener and Jeff Mitchell, both of Five Points, CA, and Renata Brillinger of CalCAN, were part of a panel that discussed farming practices to reduce risks tied to drought that was put on by the Berkeley Food Institute on April 13.   A video recording of the panel discussion including the question and answer session that followed can be seen at the following link:

Jeff Mitchell, John Diener and Renata Brillinger head panel discussion of farming practices related to drought. Photo by Jonathan Fong.



Posted on Monday, May 11, 2015 at 9:26 AM

CASI’s Diener and Mitchell in UC Berkeley forum on “Resilience and Health of Food Systems in the Face of Drought” Monday, April 13, 2 – 6 PM

Our CASI Center's John Diener, a Five Points, CA farmer and long-term workgroup member, along with Jeff Mitchell of UC Davis, will be participating as panelists on Monday, April 13th, from 2 – 6 PM in the Tampalpais Room of the David Brower Center at 2150 Allston Way at Oxford Street in Berkeley, CA as part of the Berkeley Food Institute's Food Exchange Series on “Farming practices to reduce risk tied to drought.” 


Posted on Monday, April 6, 2015 at 9:33 AM

Cover Crop Field Day – March 10th from 9 to 11:30 AM at the USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center in Lockeford, CA


Dr. Margaret Smither-Kopperl, Director of the USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center in Lockeford, CA, has organized a public field day on cover crops Tuesday, March 10, from 9 to 11:30.


The agenda for this field day is attached.


Additional information is available by calling Margaret at 209-727-5319 ext 102, or emailing her at


Posted on Monday, March 9, 2015 at 8:57 AM

Cover Crop Mixtures Showcased in Los Banos

Audience at Lucero Farms Field Day, February 26, 2015.
With only five years of experience with cover crops under their belts, Danny Ramos and Jonathan Guido of Lucero Farms in Los Banos, have come quite far in terms of learning to manage cover crops to achieve considerable advantage in their processing tomato production systems. They shared their cover crop knowledge and experiences with a group of about forty visitors at a field day held on February 26th in one of their 2015 tomato fields just south of Hwy 152.

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 ( and by viewing a summary video available at


Posted on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 9:47 AM

Audio discussion of Agronomy Journal research article

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.



Posted on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 10:13 AM

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