Annual sustainable agriculture event expanded to include farm tours
The Smith-Lever Act, passed in 1914, established a partnership between agricultural colleges or land-grant colleges and the USDA to support agricultural extension work and disseminate the information to the public. This Cooperative Extension service offered through these colleges continues to offer countless educational opportunities for ranchers and producers, and California producers can join in the annual “Twilight Field Day” in September at no cost.
Sustainable agricultural systems involving precision irrigation and conservation tillage will be featured at the University of California Cooperative Extension’s annual event and the University will also be offering a new farm tour, with both running from 1 to 8 p.m. Sept. 12.
“We want to introduce more farmers to these proven technologies,” said Jeff Mitchell, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and field day coordinator. “We’ve done research here, and there’s a lot of work from other areas showing that these systems work and they save water, reduce dust, store carbon in the soil and save farmers money.”
This year, the event has been expanded to include an afternoon bus tour to three San Joaquin Valley farms where conservation agriculture systems are already being successfully implemented. Registrants will gather at 1 p.m. at the UC Westside Research and Extension Center, 17353 West Oakland Ave., Five Points, to load the buses.
The farm tour visits:
• Johnny and Joann Tacharra Dairy in Burrel. The Tacharras will explain their plans to apply dairy waste water through an overhead irrigation system to grow forage crops.
• Armando Galvan of Five Points Ranch. Galvan will show how he refined his irrigation system to apply water to vegetable and row crops. Galvan installs special nozzles and boom configurations on his overhead irrigation drop lines that are designed to improve water infiltration and avoid ponding and crusting on the soil surface.
• Scott Schmidt of Farming ‘D’ Ranch in Five Points. Schmidt will discuss the new management strategies that must be applied to successfully implement new agricultural systems.
Following the tour, the participants reconvene at 4 p.m. at the UC Westside REC for a workshop on the economic and environmental benefits of conservation agriculture systems. The event continues
with a free barbecue dinner, entertainment by the Wheelhouse Country Band and a keynote address by Suat Irmak, director of the Nebraska Water Center and professor of biological systems engineering. The Water Center was established at the University of Nebraska by congressional mandate in 1964.
Nebraska farms currently lead the nation in adopting precision irrigation systems.
Following Irmak’s presentation and discussion, Mitchell will name the 2013 Conservation Tillage Farmer Innovator of the Year award winner.
The expanded event coincides with a concerted effort by the Conservation Agricultural Systems Innovation (CASI) Center to grow the conservation agriculture movement in California. CA- SI is a diverse group of UC researchers, farmers, public and private industry and environmental groups formed to develop and exchange information on sustainable agricultural systems for California row crops.
“In each century, there are just a handful of times when agriculture can transform itself in revolutionary ways,” Mitchell said. “There is growing evidence that today presents one of those rare chances for agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley to reinvent itself.”
The event is free but preregistration is requested to help with planning for the bus tour and dinner. Please R.S.V.P. by email to Diana Nix at email@example.com or by completing the online survey. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor