Mike Vereschagin - 2016
In 2005, the University of California, NRCS, and California Association of Resource Conservation District’s Conservation Tillage Workgroup, - which has now been expanded to the Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation (CASI) Center, established the Conservation Tillage Farmer Innovator Award as a means for providing greater visibility to CT pioneers in California. The criteria for this award are – demonstrated innovation and leadership in the development, refinement and use of conservation agriculture systems within the California crop production environment. Nominations are received and carefully reviewed by a Workgroup panel and recipients are announced in our annual meeting.
Mike Vereschagin is a fourth-generation Glenn County farmer who produces a variety of crops including dried plums, almonds, and olives on more than 1,700 acres near Orland. He is active in Farm Bureau and has taken on many other local leadership roles to promote agriculture, innovation, and sustainability for future generations and our natural resources. Over the years, has also been working very closely with local NRCS and RCD partners to develop comprehensive conservation plans for his entire farm.
Mike possesses many unique talents that are rare, but that are extremely important in the area of conservation agriculture and the promotion of soil health. He has run his family farm for many years and has always been an innovator and early adopter of new farming practices including planting cover crops for soil health and nematode and Pythium suppression in his orchards. He has been using mustard and radish mixture cover crops in his orchards for several years now which benefit not only his soil and his trees, but also the bees he rents for almond pollination each season.
Mike is a firm believer in caring for the soil that his family has farmed for generations, and he is a great example of how growers adapt to changing conditions and develop new practices to improve their farming operations.
Since 2015, he has graciously served on the RCD’s Soil Health Technical Advisory Committee despite his very full schedule, because, in his own words, ‘of the importance of healthy soils and sharing of information’.
Mike has hosted many previous field days and tours of his family’s farm including RCD’s Soil Health TAC’s first field day in a series of four field days.
Held on March 28, 2016, this event attracted over 30 farmers and interested participants and was a very highly successful outreach event. The theme “Cover Crop Efficacy in Orchard Settings – A Growers Perspective,” was of such interest that participants stayed late, even during one of the windiest days this year and well after the presentation was completed. In summary, Mike Vereschagin is a unique farmer in that he speaks of both his successes or failures, - is not shy to try a new conservation practices, - and is a true advocator for innovative farming approaches. In the words of the local, RCD, NRCS, and UCCE team that nominated him for this year’s Conservation Agriculture Farmer Innovator Award, “There is no box around his way of planning or thinking. Mike is very admired in the Glenn County community and beyond.”
It is highly fitting that our Workgroup honor Mike Vereschagin as the 2016 Conservation Agriculture farmer innovator.