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Conservation Agriculture Systems Institute Set to Launch, Collaboration of UC and Ag Sector Professionals

January 9, 2012 |

On January 27, the Conservation Agriculture Systems Institute (CASI), an organization born from a collaboration between the University of California and public and private sector agricultural professionals, will formally announce that it is ready to begin operations.

CASI combines two previously independent University of California programs, the Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup and the California Overhead Irrigation Alliance, into a singly comprehensive and expansive conservation initiative.

“This is the agronomic and ecological equivalent of the ‘moon race’ back in the early 1960s,” said CASI coordinator Jeff Mitchell, a UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist in a news release.

The Institute’s objective is to connect farmers, university, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, business leaders, public agency reps, and environmental groups toward the end of developing not only solid and lasting strategies for sustainable agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, but also creating agriculture production systems to further conservation and realize these goals.

As background, the general goal of conservation agriculture is to strengthen and build sustainable agriculture systems that are economically viable and improve the livelihoods of farmers while conserving natural resources. To achieve these objectives one must apply the well-researched and documented principles of sustainable production systems.

Principles of sustainable agriculture production include:

  • Preservation of residues that provide permanent soil cover
  • Use of cover crops
  • Diverse crop rotations
  • Reliance on precision, highly efficient irrigation
  • Controlled or limited mechanical traffic over agricultural soils
  • Minimum soil disturbance
  • Integrated pest management

As soil conservation and conservation tillage practices represent the core components of conservation agriculture, the University of California says both are challenges as well as opportunities for California systems to be developed in the San Joaquin Valley.

Information on recent research and farmer innovation related to the overarching objectives of conservation agriculture will be discussed at the January 27th meeting.

The launch and informational meeting for the new institute will take place on Friday, January 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Veterans’ Memorial Building, 808 Fourth St., Clovis.

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