California farmers are on their way to the Mid West.
Next Tuesday, a group of 14 California farmers will join UC vegetable crops specialist Jeff Mitchell for a five-day tour of farms using conservation tillage techniques in Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. In previous years, Mitchell has brought specialists from other parts of the country to speak to growers in California about their experiences with conservation tillage. This is the first time he has organized a group of farmers to go see successful CT farms in other states for themselves.
The potential to conserve energy, equipment and labor costs while boosting soil organic matter and saving water is prompting more California farmers to pay attention to conservation tillage.
"Conservation tillage has been around for a long time," Mitchell said in 2001, "but it is only now beginning to catch on in California." Since that time, many farmers have gotten on board, and are working in close collaboration with UC Cooperative Extension specialists and farm advisors to try the new techniques in their commercial settings.
Cotton is one crop in which conservation tillage hasn't yet caught on. The Capital Press newspaper reported last week on a recent conservation tillage meeting at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center that focused on cotton. The article, written by Cecelia Parsons, quotes Bob Hutmacher, the UC extension specialist in cotton: "This has been solutions-oriented research, what works and what doesn't."
Mitchell explained some of the research underway on CT cotton. "At first, it wasn't the best, but the last two years there was not a lot of statistical difference," the article quoted Mitchell. "There has been a lot of learning. We have made enough progress to begin sharing our information."
Corn growing in a CT production system.