Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation
University of California
Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation

CT innovators

Michael Crowell - 2011

Michael Crowell
Michael Crowell
A 2011 CT Farmer Innovator Award goes to Michael Crowell of Bar Vee Dairy in Turlock, Calif. This award acknowledges the outstanding and pioneering work he has done to develop and expand no-till dairy forage production systems not only at his dairy, but also throughout the Turlock region, and also recognizes the very generous contributions he has made to achieving the goals of California’s Conservation Cropping Systems Workgroup. 

Over the past several years, Michael has acquired and mastered tremendous knowledge and experience related to no-till production and he is now a true pioneer of these systems. His entire dairy is now completely no-till including no-till twin row corn, no-till drilled sorghum sudan, followed by no-till wheat or triticale. 

Michael has participated in three annual conferences of the National No-Till Farmer Association and has tenaciously gone to each of these meetings with a very deliberate goal of informing himself as much as he can about no-till techniques. His involvement in these sessions each January are, in his words, “the best value for his money,” and he has learned a tremendous amount from his participation in them. 

He completely modified the twin-row (12 row) Monosem planter that he bought to now successfully produce twin-row corn no-till. This is a pull type planter that has been specially modified to apply fertilizers and achieve very uniform stands. He generously has shared his experiences on no-till twin row planting with other CT Workgroup farmer members. In addition, he has hosted numerous field days at his dairy and is a regular participant in workgroup meetings, generally in Davis, and has also been a strong supporter of the initiatives of the workgroup.

Michael began his no-till work very strategically.  Recognizing that the edges of his field presented compaction issues, he ripped them before starting his no-till planting systems.  He also took part in the 2007 CT Workgroup Tour back to Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado with his wife, Jonette, and was a very tenacious and wonderful participant and mentor for other California farmer and workgroup members.

The thing that sets Michael apart from others is his sheer persistence and commitment to no-till.  He is, as he has said, committed to making it work and the successes he has had with it to date bear well for his being able to continue down the no-till path. As he has mentioned publicly to a UCD student tour group, he “loves the dirt” and loves working on ways to improve his soils.  Michael is very humble about his accomplishments in the arena of conservation tillage, however, what he has done and the willingness with which he has done it, make him an extremely meritorious innovator who is highly deserving of our Workgroup’s Farmer Innovator Award this year. 

-Jeff Mitchell

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