North Coast Soil Health Hub

Development of a Farm Demonstration Network in California

In partnership with USDA NRCS, UCCE, Napa County and Sonoma County RCDs, and agricultural industry associations, MCRCD is taking a leadership role in helping to establish the development of a vineyard farm demonstration network in the north coast region.

Conservation agriculture and system-based crop management has been gaining traction across the nation. The land management paradigm is shifting towards:
⦁ Managing our lands as a whole system, away from managing of parts, without regard for the other parts;
⦁ Growing recognition of the governing role soil life has on soil function, performance, and sustainability;
⦁ System-based soil health management systems show more promise than current, conventional management systems for maintaining and improving production, while reducing or eliminating many common resource concerns including soil erosion, nutrient and pesticide pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and soil degradation associated with the loss of soil organic carbon to the atmosphere.

A Farmer-based demonstration network is the central organizing point for the creation, testing, demonstration, and advocacy for conservation agriculture and soil health management systems.

First and foremost, this farmer-based network would establish its’ goals and objectives based on the needs and challenges unique to California and our local cropping systems. Potential outcomes include the creation of central rallying points and forums for farmers interested in voluntary, farmer-to-farmer-based hands-on learning, local field trials, evaluation, exchange and demonstration of conservation agriculture and soil health management systems.
Specifically, the network could expect to carry out over the next two years these types of activities:
⦁ Identify and promote cropping systems that achieve the dual goals of resource-improving and economically viable conservation agriculture systems in the region;
⦁ Engage farmer-based organizations and conservation agencies in conducting farmer-to-farmer based exchange through workshops, demonstrations, and learning laboratories;
⦁ Guide agencies, educational institutions, and partnering organizations in the creation, testing and on-farm evaluation of conservation agriculture management systems that work locally;
⦁ Provide guidance and advocacy for the increased adoption of conservation agriculture management systems.

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