Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

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Calling your attention to the ANR Green Blog

There are lots of interesting things there.

Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 11:51 AM

California Soil Health Network in the Sacramento Bee

An op-ed article prepared by Jeff Mitchell and Randy Southard that is in part related to California's soil health farm demonstration network that many CASI members and affiliates are involved with appeared in the Sacramento Bee newspaper on October 30.

Here is a link to that article... 

Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 10:24 AM

Sanchez honored as a White House Champion of Change

Jesse Sanchez
This past Monday, October 26th, Jesse Sanchez, the farm manager at Sano Farms out west of the small town of Firebaugh, was honored in Washington, D.C. as a White House Champion of Change. Along with eleven other farmers, researchers, and industry leaders from around the country, Jesse was recognized as part of the most recent White House Champions cohort for his contributions to sustainable and climate-smart agriculture. This extremely prestigious acknowledgment that honors “everyday Americans who are doing extraordinary things,” is a very fitting recognition of the outstanding contributions that this humble, soft-spoken pioneer has made to improved tomato farming systems here in the San Joaquin Valley.

Working closely with Alan Sano, the farm's owner, over the past ten years, Jesse has developed highly efficient production practices for the roughly 1500 acres of processing and fresh market tomatoes that employ the use of off-season cover crops to add carbon to the soil to improve tilth as well as water storage and movement in the soil, and also, the use of a form of reduced tillage that is called strip-tillage. In this reduced disturbance system, Jesse tills only in the center of his beds in a narrow line where his tomato transplants are placed. This approach to tomato farming has reduced fuel use and emissions resulting from diesel fuel burning compared to what is done traditionally, increased organic matter in the soil, and saved the farm roughly $100 per acre since they started making changes to their customary practices. Overall, the system that Jesse has refined attempts to emulate the type of natural system farming that his grandfather used back in Mexico when Jesse was a boy.

The evolution of these climate-smart systems at Sano Farms first began when Jesse installed subsurface drip irrigation tape in his tomato fields. This method of irrigating is very precise and enables Sano Farms to precisely apply small amounts of water to their tomatoes as needed. Because the plastic drip tapes are permanently buried in the centers of the farm's planting beds, Jesse, along with other tomato farmers in the past fifteen or so years, have begun to use minimum tillage approaches that work the soil shallowly without disturbing the buried drip tape. It was soon after Jesse first installed drip tape that he began his current quest to improve the health of his soil through the use of cover crops and strip-tillage.

In addition to the improved economic and efficiencies that have been achieved by the farming techniques that Jesse has developed for this tomatoes, there have also been smaller, yet no less important benefits that both he and Sano have seen with their new practices. One evening a few years ago, in hosting a visiting no-till farmer from Pennsylvania at their farm one evening, Jesse and Alan were both beaming with joy in finding an earthworm in a shovel-full of soil that they had dug up while looking at changes in soil properties. “This is the first worm I've seen in thirty years,” exclaimed Sano upon finding it.

Jesse Sanchez has also been a very generous and passionate promoter of the system that he's developed at Sano Farms. Over the years, he has hosted a variety of tours for San Joaquin Valley farmers, and also for farmers from as far away as Mexico, Brazil, China, and Afghanistan. He is very committed to the conservation agriculture systems that he has been working to develop and explains that farmers like him “can do an awful lot of conservation and help many people in local communities with jobs as long as we have water.” This past week's honor that comes with Jesse Sanchez being recognized as a While House Champion of Change is a truly fitting acknowledgment of one of our Valley's great pioneers.



Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 8:29 AM

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

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