Posts Tagged: conservation tillage
United States Congressman Jim Costa visited the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points last week to introduce his new legislative director, Nick Choate, to west side farming practices. A focus of the visit was conservation tillage, a farming system in which growers minimize tractor work and plant crops in the residue of a previous crop.
UC research has shown that CT practices have numerous benefits, including water conservation, dust suppression, reduced runoff, lower labor needs and costs, fuel savings and carbon sequestration. Members of the Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems workgroup asked Costa for federal funding to study the adoption process and fund CT extension activities.
Costa is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, which is laying the groundwork for the reauthorization of the Farm Bill in 2012.
He shared the following comments about the value of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources programs:
A series of conservation tillage workshops last month and a follow-up news release by UC Davis cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell resulted in a story about the event on a Fresno morning ag show on KMJ 580 am radio. The radio story is archived online, about midway through the hour-long broadcast.
Mitchell conducted a phone interview with host Sean Michael Lisle in which he
said national experts on no-till and strip-till came to California to encourage the state's farmers to try conservation tillage, which can conserve water, suppress dust, reduce runoff, lower labor costs, save fuel and sequester carbon.
"There is a growing interest now in these kinds of systems that potentially can reduce production costs and can have a number of adjunct benefits associated with them, and that would be quite new for California," Mitchell said on the program. "Currently in California, very little of the annual crops, row crops, field crops are grown with these kinds of practices."
Mitchell said the dairy industry has been particularly receptive to the idea.
"Our workgroup has documented some rather significant changes in tillage practices in the last 6 years," Mitchell said. "The adoption of these kinds of practices has actually gone up to about 20 percent of the acreage from about 2 percent in that time period."
More information on conservation tillage is available on the workgroup's Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems website.
More savings can be realized by combining overhead irrigation with conservation tillage.
Hanford dairy farmer Dino Giacomazzi was recognized for his innovations in conservation tillage yesterday at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 12th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony held in downtown Los Angeles, according to an EPA news release.
Giacomazzi was in good company. The 12 businesses and individuals honored included Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin and a 14-year-old boy who recorded a song about global warming that reached children on five continents.
According to the release, Giacomazzi is the fourth generation to manage Giacomazzi Dairy, a family farm of 900 cows and 600 acres, which has operated at the same location in Hanford since 1893.
Giacomazzi approaches his farm as a holistic system, and is continually looking for cultural practices that are sustainable both environmentally and economically. Working with USDA-NRCS and the University of California, Giacomazzi initiated the first demonstration evaluation of a strip-tillage corn planting system in the Central San Joaquin Valley, and has been experimenting since with different implements, plant varieties and planting configurations to optimize that system.
Strip-tillage is a farming practice that involves tilling in narrow strips rather than disturbing soil in the entire field. This process reduces diesel, dust, and particulate emissions as well as fuel and labor costs. For his corn-wheat rotation, Giacomazzi has reduced the annual number of tillage passes for each of his fields from 14 to 2.
Giacomazzi received the Conservation Tillage Farmer Innovator Award for 2008 by the University of California and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Tillage Workgroup.
The EPA awards were presented on the agency’s 40th anniversary to help celebrate "40 Years of Environmentalism," the news release said.
Giacomazzi, right, receives EPA award from Jarod Blumenfeld, administrator of EPA Region 9.
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.
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.