Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

UC Delivers

Sustained conservation tillage tomato systems show promise
California tomato producers need profitable technologies that guarantee long-term viability in the marketplace and on the farm. Production practices used by tomato farmers need to be affordable and also preserve or improve the long-term sustainability of production fields. Two practices that can help producers with economic and sustainability goals are covercropping and conservation tillage. While widely used in the 1940s, cover crops were not a mainstay of California production systems during the last half of the twentieth century. In recent years though, their potential benefits have received renewed attention by researchers and farmers, and there is interest in integrating them into tomato production systems. Cover crops provide soil cover, scavenge and recycle nutrients, break up monocultures, and add organic matter to production fields. But they require additional costs and careful management to be successfully integrated into tomato production systems. Conservation tillage (CT) practices include a number of tillage management approaches that reduce overall operations and costs. CT systems are also frequently associated with adjunct benefits such as lower dust and diesel emissions, reduced equipment maintenance, and lower total labor requirements. CT systems also require management “know-how” and up-front planning.

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