Equipment for Sustainable Agriculture
There have been a lot of advancements in soil health building practices in recent years, but skeptics are still asking “can it scale”? There is certainly evidence that it can, but for starters, it’s going to take the right equipment.
Here’s Dr. Jeff Mitchell, Vegetable Crops Specialist with the UC Cooperative Extension and the Director of the Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation Center.
Mitchell… “The equipment and the techniques to get all this done: that is a huge, just a gigantic need that we have right now. We do not have the kinds of equipment, the scale of equipment, and the adaptable equipment that we need for these kind of specialty crop situations that we're working in.”
Dr. Mitchell says farmers he is working with are modifying equipment borrowed from Midwest row crop farming systems. He is encouraged that a few small scale equipment manufacturers are starting to pop up to meet this growing need.
Mitchell… “We need seeders. We need high residue transplanters. For this particular group of farmers that are doing things organically: how do you terminate a cover crop without using chemical herbicides there? So these are all big equipment challenges that we're just beginning to recognize.”
Dr. Mitchell hopes that his work with some forward-thinking growers around the state will produce data and models to advance conservation agriculture and hopefully attract some new innovations in equipment along the way.