Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

Conservation agriculture news

CASI’s Rossiter honored by South Africa Irrigation Institute (SABI)

Jerry Rossiter

Jerry Rossiter, one of CASI's long-standing private sector members was recently honored by the South African Irrigation Institute (SABI) at their 2015 Annual Congress held in Polokwane, Limpopo, a province in southeastern South Africa, August 3rd to 6th.

Rossiter, who is President of CISCOAg, an international irrigation consulting firm based in Atwater, CA, with affiliates in Zurich, Switzerland and South Africa, was recognized as the 2015 recipient of SABI's Gold Award acknowledging his contributions as a founding father of the organization 40 years ago and his continued service since.

It was through Rossiter's pioneering efforts that the very first precision center pivot irrigation system was installed on the continent of Africa by South Africa's Harry Oppenheimer back in 1970 following Rossiter's personal introduction of the technology at Oppenheimer's farm.

Rossiter, 78, was the first vice president of SABI and later served two terms as the Institute's president.

Left to right: Rod Mountain, Jerry Rossiter, Felix Reinders
SABI is the internationally-recognized “go to” group for information, training, and expertise on all things related to irrigation in South Africa and in recent years it has expanded its impact throughout other countries in southern Africa as well. It currently has over 400 members and affiliates.

Rossiter has attended fifteen of SABI's 20 international congresses and was appointed a life member of the organization in 1983.


A link to a Power Point presentation given at the SABI awards ceremony is available at:




Posted on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 9:29 AM

List of successful no-till crops in California grows

2015 garbanzo harvest, July, Five Points, CA
The list of crops that have been successfully grown using no-tillage in California continues to increase with garbanzos being the latest addition.

Harvest data are now in for a 2015 garb crop that was no-till seeded in January in the longstanding conservation agriculture systems study field in Five Points, CA, and these data indicate that there was no difference in yield between the no-till with and without cover crop treatments and the standard till with and without cover crop systems. Garb yields for the four systems averaged about 3,600 lbs / acre with no statistical differences seen between the four experimental treatments.

Other than an herbicide spraying in the fall of 2014 to knock down weeds, the no-tillage systems relied on zero tillage prior to seeding that was done with a John Deere 1730 6-row 30” planter. Conventional tillage consisting of several passes of a Wilcox Performer bed-shaping tillage implement was done to prepare planting beds in the standard tillage plots as would be commonly done in the region.

There is now a growing list of several crops that both in research studies and on California farms that have been successfully produced with economically viable yields using no-tillage seeding.

Additional information about this study will be available at the CASI (Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation) Center's website ( and by contacting Jeff Mitchell at


Posted on Monday, August 24, 2015 at 10:07 AM

California Farmers Host FAO Visitors

Two guys in a corn field.

San Joaquin Valley farmers, Scott Schmidt of Five Points, Darrell Cordova of Denair, and Michael Crowell of Turlock, along with UCCE Stanislaus County Advisor, Marsha Campbell-Mathews hosted Eric Kueneman and Dirk Lange, both formerly international agriculture development workers with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy, at their farms on July 27th.

Kueneman is the former director of international conservation agriculture programs at FAO and was responsible for the organization's CA efforts throughout a number of regions with several member nations. He is currently a consultant involved in the evaluation and review of several development programs in India, Nigeria, and Brazil.

Lange is a career international development worker who has had stints with FAO, the German development agency, “GTZ,” (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit), and has also worked with fellow German development pioneer, Rolf Derpsch, - who was hosted by CASI for a series of seminars in California back in 2012.

A discussion taking place in the shade on a hot day.
CASI members, Schmidt, Cordova, and Crowell, shared insights related to the production systems they work with here in the San Joaquin Valley and the ways in which they now incorporate conservation agriculture principles into their production practices. Schmidt has reduced tillage operations as well as the overall horsepower of his tractors dramatically in recent years and employs a number of creative ways for inserting cover crops into his diverse crop rotations that include tomatoes, wheat, garlic, onions, cotton, and alfalfa. Cordova now uses no-tillage for both his winter forage mixes and his summer corn that are both irrigated using a precision-application center pivot. Crowell, a dairy farmer, has been no-tilling his small grain and corn crops since 2003. A video describing the efforts he has made to develop his no-till system and his emphasis on soil care is now available as part of the USDA NRCS “Unlock the Secrets of the Soil” farmer profile series at  He will also be on the program of the National No-till Farmer conference that will take place in Indianapolis, IN next January 6-9th.

Additional information about conservation agriculture and the CASI Center is available at the CASI website


Posted on Monday, August 3, 2015 at 9:39 AM

CASI partners work on center pivot-irrigated tomatoes in Walnut Grove, CA

The CASI group working on pivot irrigation in tomato fields in Walnut Grove.
A group of CASI partners has been working with Walnut Grove, CA tomato farmer, Michael Boparai, this summer on his efforts to produce processing tomatoes using an automated, precision-application center pivot irrigation system. Boparai is a new tomato farmer who recently purchased two 135-acre pivots that he had been using to irrigate alfalfa and corn before deciding to use them for his tomatoes in 2015.

The CASI team includes a diverse group of UC Cooperative Extension Advisors, Gene Miyao of Yolo, Sacramento, and Solano Counties, Brenna Aegerter and Michelle Leinfelder-Miles of San Joaquin County, and Cropping Systems Specialist, Jeff Mitchell of UC Davis, along with private sector partners, Dan Schueler of Senninger Irrigation Company, Rick Hanshew of Reinke Mfg., and Jerry Rossiter of CiscoAg. Several of these supporters of Boparai's goal of successfully producing tomatoes under his pivot this year have already met out in the field on a number of occasions to help him to assess progress of the crop and to develop water and crop management strategies for completing the 2015 season ahead of his harvest.

Pivot irrigation in a tomato field near Walnut Grove
While overhead irrigation has been researched and used successfully for a number of crops that have been recently featured in several CASI peer-reviewed studies, the application of this proven irrigation technology to tomatoes in California has so far not fared well in the limited number of trails that have been conducted. A variety of reasons including the need to very carefully maintain an adequate watering regime throughout the season and to avoid falling behind in terms of recharging the soil profile so that tomato roots can adequately acquire stored moisture to meet the demand of evapotranspiration account for why overhead irrigation of tomatoes has faced problems in these past attempts. Knowing how much water is stored in the soil profile is also a key to managing irrigation of tomatoes and thus the team that is working with Boparai has recently installed soil water sensors and dataloggers in his pivot irrigation field so as to gain real-time information on soil water status that can then be used to schedule irrigations.

Because of the importance of tomatoes to many crop rotations throughout much of the Central Valley, being able to use pivot irrigation for this “anchor” crop is seen as being very important to the wider expansion of overhead irrigation systems in the region.

Additional updates and a summary of the learning that has taken place through this team effort with Boparai will be available in September.

Posted on Monday, July 27, 2015 at 8:45 AM

UC Davis hosts Rain for Rent and Reinke Mfg at Center Pivot Field in Five Points

July 16, 2015. Field Meeting in Five Points.
UC Davis Horticulture and Agronomy graduate student, Gerardo van den Hoek, hosted a group of irrigation technology suppliers from Rain For Rent (San Joaquin, CA) and Reinke Mfg. (Deshler, NE) at the field site where he is conducting the second year of his MS thesis project in Five Points, CA. van den Hoek works with a large team of UC colleagues including Dan Putnam and Jeff Mitchell of the Plant Sciences Department, Jeff Dahlberg of the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Dan Munk, Kurt Hembree, and Tom Turini of UCCE Fresno County, and a number of other partners including Anil Shrestha of Fresno State, Rick Hanshew of Reinke Mfg., Dan Schueler of Senninger Mfg., Barbara Kutzner of Monsanto, Monte Bottens of California Ag Solutions, and local Five Points farmers, John Diener and Scott Schmidt. The field meeting took place on July 16.

van den Hoek and his advisory team are evaluating the performance of four corn and four forage sorghum varieties under deficit irrigation using the center pivot irrigation system as the means for imposing roughly 100%, 70%, and 40% amounts of full ET (evapotranspiration) following the application of full ET during the early part of the season. The deficit treatments were recently initiated and van den Hoek's calculations project roughly 25 inches of water being applied to the 100% system, about 20 inches going to the 70% system, and 17 inches to the 40% treatment by the end of the 2015 season. Varietal responses of the corn and sorghum crops are being evaluated in terms of growth and development, yield, and forage quality.

The team will host a public field education event later in the 2015 summer.

Additional information is available by contacting van den Hoek at, or Mitchell at

Posted on Monday, July 20, 2015 at 8:26 AM

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