Backyard Orchard News
KARE supports a June 6, 2017 soil management training at West Side Research & Extension Center in Five Points.
A very diverse and large group of farmers, consultants, public agency, and private sector folks participated in a highly successful training session on the benefits of soil management for farming systems at the site of the long-term USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture National Research Initiative (NRI) Project field in Five Points on Tuesday, June 6th. The overflow crowd took in discussions by farmers Scott Park, Jesse Sanchez, Alan Sano, and Tom Willey; UC Davis researchers Randy Southard, Rad Schmidt, Howard Ferris, Sloane Rice; and KARE's own Jeff Mitchell. Attendees also participated in a number of demonstrations of soil function that were provided by NRCSers Sheryl Feit and Kabir Zahangir and were also able to view soil profiles of two of the tillage and cover crop systems that have been evaluated at the site for over 17 years with soil pit trainers, Phil Smith and Rafael Ortiz of NRCS and Randy Southard of UC Davis. The training event was organized to provide evidence and experiences related to the benefits that might be achieved through a dedication to reduced disturbance management and soil biology.
Take-home messages from the training event emphasized the fact that no-till has now been shown to be a successful seeding technique for a range of crops in California, that deliberate and sustained attention to sustaining soil biology through practices such as reduced disturbance, cover crops and compost amendment applications may have functional benefits to farming systems, and that there are great opportunities for expanding the application of such practices to good advantage particularly in Central Valley annual crop systems.
Handout informational materials were provided and may be requested by writing to Jeff Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Educational videos summarizing progress that has been made at the NRI Project site over the years are also available through CASI.
In addition, tour visits of the long-term site can be scheduled by contacting Mitchell at (559) 303-9689. Now is a particularly good time to visit the site as there are two no-till crops, garbanzos and sorghum, growing simultaneously throughout the entire study field.
As many folks at KARE already know, the California Farm Demonstration Network was recently formed and formally launched in a MOU signing ceremony that was held May 5th at the Winters, CA orchard of Russ Lester. The Network is a partnership of several groups including the California Farm Bureau Federation, the USDA NRCS, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, UC ANR, and the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, plus many farmers, local farmer associations, and other private and public sector affiliates. The attached You Tube link provides a brief introductory overview of a small part of the Network's initial efforts.
Since UC ANR is a formal signatory to the MOU that launched this effort and because many of us in ANR are already and will hopefully be involved with the Network's efforts in the future, we would like to actively encourage participation of any and all ANR colleagues who'd like to become involved with the Network in any capacity. At this point, for instance, we welcome your involvement in everything from service on the Network Steering Committee (or other technical and advisory committees that are now being formed) to hands-on collaboration with any of the various farm demonstrations that are going to be started and that you'll have direct roles in starting yourselves. This is frankly a great time for everyone to step up and to register their interest in becoming involved. The overall purpose of the Network is to increase adoption of conservation agriculture, soil health, and climate-smart systems in California. Its goals emphasize the development of water-, climate-, and nutrient-smart systems for California's diverse crop production environments and its focus areas include, but are not limited to the following: participatory learning resulting in the adoption of improved management practices grounded in sound science and experience-based principles, the public, voluntary showcasing of innovative systems developed by experienced farmer leaders, a program of farm demonstration evaluations that employ monitoring, data collection, and analysis of findings, and the use of proven, creative methods for sharing, discussing, and communicating results and findings to scale-up even broader adoption of improved systems.
We sincerely welcome your support of and interest in the Network and hope that colleagues throughout the Division will become involved with it and in particular, if anyone would like to help by serving on the Network's Steering Committee as a delegate of ANR, please step forward and let us know.
The introductory video was edited and produced by two students in the Soils and Biogeochemistry Group at UC Davis, Jessica Chiartas and Irfan Ainuddin.
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