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Posts Tagged: Jeff Mitchell

Conservation tillage catches on in California

Farmers in California interested in trying conservation tillage practices have a new resource available with the launch yesterday of the UC Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup website, said an article in the Sacramento Bee. The story also appeared in the Merced Sun-Star.

Reporter Carol Reiter picked up the story from an ANR news release about the new resource.

No-Till Farmer magazine also ran a story this week about California efforts to encourage the use of minimum till methods.

“The practice is particularly well suited to dairy silage production in California where dairymen typically rotate from winter wheat or triticale right into spring corn,” the story quoted Jeff Mitchell, UC Davis Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist based at the Kearney Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

The new website, created using the ANR Communication Services Site Builder 3 web content management system, will help farmers investigate cropping management systems that have been shown in research and in practice to increase profits, reduce dust, conserve water and sequester carbon on the farm. The site includes research reports, a photo gallery, a video library, an audio podcast and much more.

Currently, about 2 percent of California farmland is managed under conservation tillage techniques. The rest continues to be managed with systems that have changed very little since irrigation and cropping intensification began in the region more than 65 years ago.

The new website is designed to arm farmers with information that will help them set aside the common conventional practices of annual plowing, disking, ripping and chiseling.

New conservation tillage website.
New conservation tillage website.

Posted on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Earthworms signal success on innovative tomato farm

If the return of earthworms to farm fields is an indication of success, then Sano Farms is on the right track.

“I haven’t seen earthworms in these fields in years,” said Firebaugh farmer Alan Sano. Sano and his partner, Jesse Sanchez, combine subsurface drip irrigation, winter cover crops and strip tillage to consistently produce a high-yielding crop of processing tomatoes.

In addition to boosting yield, the system they developed for the 4,000-acre farm is cheaper, increases soil organic matter and improves the tilth of their silty clay soil.

The farmers took several trips to the Midwest and consulted with UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist Jeff Mitchell to learn the improved management techniques they applied on the farm.

After switching from furrow irrigation to drip, Sano and Sanchez began experimenting with cover crops.

"It wasn’t always an easy transition into cover crops," Mitchell said. "It did take some time to learn the best way to manage them."

As the benefits of years of cover cropping accumulated, they saw that they didn’t need to till the entire field to get good soil-seed contact; they only needed to till a strip of soil a few inches wide.

Recently, they shared their innovative farming system with other growers at an open house event sponsored by California's Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup.

Farmers interested in adopting conservation tillage techniques may contact Mitchell for more information at mitchell@uckac.edu.

Posted on Monday, August 2, 2010 at 11:42 AM

More farmers using dust-reducing techniques

Farmers in the Central Valley are increasingly turning to "conservation tillage," a variety of practices that reduce soil disturbance and cut down on dust, according to a story in the Modesto Bee over the weekend.

The story, written by John Holland, said producers in nine valley counties were surveyed by the Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup, an alliance of farmers, researchers and industry representatives coordinated by UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist Jeff Mitchell. The survey found that 64,613 acres were being cultivated using some form of conservation tillage in 2004; and 416,035 acres were in CT in 2008.

"My philosophy is that good environmental stewardship must be profitable to be sustainable," workgroup member and Hanford-area dairy farmer Dino Giacomazzi was quoted in the story. "Our conservation tillage program has been helpful to our family business during these hard economic times."

Merced County UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Maxwell Norton posted a comment about the story on the Modesto Bee website.

"The contribution of agriculture to reducing dust pollution over the last 30 has been huge: less burning, less tillage of all types, cover crops in orchards and vineyards are commonplace, nut harvesting equipment is getting better, and roads are being treated," Norton wrote.

A CT system following tomatoes and before cotton planting.
A CT system following tomatoes and before cotton planting.

Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 10:49 AM

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