Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
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Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

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CASI's Mitchell on MyAgLife podcast, June 28, 2024

CASI's Mitchell on MyAgLife podcast June 28, 2024

 July 1, 2024

Jeff Mitchell, CASI member and Professor and Cropping Systems Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis, appeared in a 39-minute podcast with host Taylor Chalstrom on June 28, 2024 to talk about conservation agriculture in general and the recently-published article in California Agriculture on the 20-year study  in Five Points, CA.  The podcast is available at

You may need the podcast platform, Spotify, to listen to it. 

MyAgLife June 28, 2024 Image
MyAgLife June 28, 2024 Image

Posted on Monday, July 1, 2024 at 1:00 PM

CASI’s Mitchell announces long-term NRI Project publication in Cal Ag on Don York’s KMJ580 AM morning “Ag Report” radio program, May 23, June 4, and June 6, 2024

In an effort to extend information on CASI's twenty-year conservation agriculture study that has been conducted at the University field station in Five Points, CA and that has been recently published in the journal, California Agriculture, Jeff Mitchell provided three radio interviews on the morning Ag Report that Don York produces for KMJ580 AM each morning out of Fresno.  The segments aired on May 23rd and on June 4th and 6th, 2024 and are available below.  Mitchell shared findings of the long-term “NRI Project” that since 1998 has examined four production systems – standard tillage without cover crop, standard tillage with cover crop, no-till without cover crop, and no-till with cover crop. 

The NRI Project started as an effort to determine the potential of reduced disturbance tillage in terms of generating or producing less dust and in the early 2000s found that dust can be significantly reduced by as much as 80% with a variety of reduced tillage practices relative to standard tillage techniques that have been widely used in annual crop fields throughout the San Joaquin Valley since the early 1930s.   The recent findings from the unique long-term study have shown that several soil health indicators including aggregation, water infiltration, biodiversity, and surface carbon were improved through the long-term use of cover crops with reduced disturbance tillage. 

In the interviews, Mitchell points out that the systems that were evaluated and developed in the NRI Project were not at all easy to implement and required considerable trial-and-error effort to achieve.  Yields, for instance, of cotton in the early years under the high residue, no-till cover crop system lagged behind the standard tillage, however once effective planting techniques were learned to establish the cotton crop. There were no yield differences between the two tillage systems for the next several years. 

The results of this study that included 18 coauthors can be seen at

Screenshot 2024-06-07 090600 Cal Ag Screenshot Cal Ag
Screenshot 2024-06-07 090600 Cal Ag Screenshot Cal Ag

Posted on Friday, June 7, 2024 at 9:03 AM

20-year summary of soil health research in Five Points, CA published in California Agriculture!

May 17, 2024

Findings from twenty years of soil health research in Five Points, CA have been published in the University of California's California Agriculture peer-reviewed journal's May 1, 2024 issue.

This work has been a large collaborative effort involving twenty-one UC and non-UC coauthors.  It began in 1998 initially as an effort to evaluate the potential of reduced disturbance tillage systems to reduce dust emissions from annual cropping systems that are common in California's San Joaquin Valley.  It long-term nature however, allowed it to become a unique site for also monitoring changes in soil properties and function under four experimental systems:  conventional tillage with no cover crop, conventional tillage with cover crop, no-till with no cover crop, and no-till with cover crop.  Crops rotated between tomato and cotton initially, but later during the study, the rotation was diversified to include melons, sorghum, and garbanzo beans.  

The work involved the Soil Health Institute's Shannon Cappellazzi, who sampled at the site in 2019.  That sampling event led to the site becoming part of a multiple-publication series of articles that reported on soil health impacts in 124 long-term study sites across North America. 




Screenshot 2024-05-17 080919 Cal Ag
Screenshot 2024-05-17 080919 Cal Ag

Posted on Friday, May 17, 2024 at 7:58 AM

Fresno State MS student shares his research work on strip-tillage!


Robert Willmott not only recently wrapped up his MS thesis research at Fresno State, but he also works full-time as the Farm Manager for his college's student ag farm, is married, and has two small children as well!  A full plate, to say the least.  In addition to all this, he recently told his story at Fresno State in a 3-minute video that is now posted at You Tube

Working in the Department of Plant Science in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology under his award-winning and Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy major professor, Anil Shrestha, Robert presented his thesis work in an exit seminar on May 14th on campus ahead of being awarded this MS and graduating later this month.  His work consisted of a multiple-year study to evaluate the potential of using a roller crimper and strip-tillage for producing silage corn under center pivot irrigation, a new systems approach for San Joaquin Valley dairies that rely on winter and corn silage for animal feed materials.  The several years of the study saw quite good success in terminating a variety of winter cover crop mixes using the roller crimper, strong weed suppression during the early corn season, and corn yields comparable to industry standards and the conventional control system that was part of the evaluation. 

The work is now being prepared for submission to a scientific journal later this summer.  A three-minute You Tube video summarizing Robert's work may be viewed at the link 

Screenshot 2024-05-17 074737 Fresno State
Screenshot 2024-05-17 074737 Fresno State

Posted on Friday, May 17, 2024 at 7:44 AM

CASI hosts the Soil Health Institute's US Regenerative Ag Cotton Program leaders - April 11 and 12, 2024

April 12, 2024

The UC ANR CASI Center hosted five members of the Soil Health Institute's US Regenerative Ag Cotton Program in the San Joaquin Valley on April 11th and 12th, 2024.  The Soil Health Institute (SHI) is a non-profit organization based in Morrisville, NC that conducts research and extension education related to soil health management.  Five SHI members, Diana Bagnall, David Lamm, Jessica Kelton, Emily Ball, and Nate Looker, took part in the two-day tour of six San Joaquin Valley farms and the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations.  San Joaquin Valley farmers who hosted the SHI members included Mark Borba of Borba Farms in Riverdale, CA, Mark McKean of McKean Farms also in Riverdale, Tony Azevedo of Stone Land Company in Stratford, CA, Cannon Michael and Derek Azevedo of Bowles Farming in Los Banos, Gary and Mari Martin of Pikalok Farms in Mendota, and Gary Smith of Ingleby Farms in Burrel.  Roger Isom, President of the CCGGA in Fresno, also hosted the SHI guests.

SHI requested help from CASI with the cotton tour and discussions that took place as an effort to expand their national Regenerative Ag Cotton Program to California in 2024.  The tour provided excellent opportunities for SHI to learn about California cotton and to make connections with leading cotton farmers in the San Joaquin Valley who may become part of the baseline soil sampling project that SHI is looking to conduct with cotton producers this year.

In addition to the farmers who generously hosted the SHI guests, several other local California folks including Cary Crum, Kimber Moreland, Rob Roy, Jacob Wright, and Olivia Peters helped CASI's Jeff Mitchell in sharing information about California cotton systems.  

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Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2024 at 8:21 PM

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