All posts in Ecological Farming

Did you receive a Healthy Soils Incentives grant?

Did you receive a Healthy Soils Incentives grant?

CAFF is offering technical assistance to growers and ranchers to help implement Healthy Soils practices on-farm! We can help: Provide advice on how to implement cover cropping, no-till and reduced tillage, whole orchard recycling, compost application and more. Connect with

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Covercrops for California Agriculture

Covercrops for California Agriculture

For many agricultural soils, cover crops offer the only means of supplying the organic matter needed to keep the soil in a high state of productivity. Learn how to select an grow the cover crop that is right for your

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Hedgerows & Farmscaping for California Agriculture guide now available for download

Hedgerows & Farmscaping for California Agriculture guide now available for download

CAFF’s in-depth manual will help you choose and care for regionally appropriate plants that attract beneficial insects and prevent erosion. This publication is an updated revision of the original, 2004, Hedgerows for California Agriculture: A Resource Guide for Farmers. The

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California Invests in Transition to Ecological Walnut Production

California Invests in Transition to Ecological Walnut Production

In a move to help walnut growers shift towards safer, more sustainable pest management practices, this week the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) awarded a $1 million grant to Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) for the agency’s

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CAFF’S On-Farm Occultation Research Report

CAFF’S On-Farm Occultation Research Report

Research and recommendations on occultation Building on our work in biointensive no-till systems, CAFF’s Climate Smart Farming team launched a research trial on California vegetable farms on a related practice called occultation. Occultation or “weeding with tarps”, is considered an

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CAFF’s Ecological Farming Program

CAFF’s Ecological Farming Program

Since 2017, CAFF’s Climate Smart Farming program has worked closely with farmers, researchers and technical assistance providers to investigate and promote climate smart farming practices through on-farm research and demonstration projects, education and outreach. As we continue to work at

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New Funding: Soil Health Management in Orchards

New Funding: Soil Health Management in Orchards

Financial & technical assistance available through participating in On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials with the East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District! View below or download the application here.    

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State Water Resources Control Board Limits Regulation of On-Farm Composting

State Water Resources Control Board Limits Regulation of On-Farm Composting

(Updated 4/15/20) The State Water Resources Control Board’s Compost General Order that passed in 2015 presented a regulatory obstacle for on-farm composting, despite the state’s efforts to reduce waste and provide for more ecological farming practices. The Order limited farmers

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California Okays On-Farm Compost, Key to Sustainable Agriculture

California Okays On-Farm Compost, Key to Sustainable Agriculture

Sacramento, CA – After more than five years of negotiations, the State Water Resources Control Board issued a historic decision to allow for much-needed composting on California farms.  “Farmers can now compost more, build healthy soils, and reduce and mitigate

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Technical Assistance for the Healthy Soils Program

Technical Assistance for the Healthy Soils Program

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FOR THE HEALTHY SOILS PROGRAM Are you interested in implementing cover crops, compost, hedgerows and other Healthy Soils practices on you farm? The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is offering 3 year grants to farmers to

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Integrating Livestock & Crops: Improving Soil, Solving Problems, Increasing Income

Integrating Livestock & Crops: Improving Soil, Solving Problems, Increasing Income

An introductory bulletin covering benefits and considerations of livestock-crop integration, including further reading resources. From the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).

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Biodiversity: What it is, and How to Increase it on your Farm

Biodiversity: What it is, and How to Increase it on your Farm

This brochure was developed by the Wild Farm Alliance and CAFF defines Biodiversity as it relates to agriculture, and describes specific practices that farmers can implement to conserve biodiversity on their farms. On most farms, opportunities exist to accommodate habitat,

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Cover Crops for Walnut Orchards

Cover Crops for Walnut Orchards

Walnut orchards present unique challenges to the successful use of cover crops. These include short time between harvest and leaf fall for establishing the cover crop…

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Compost: What Does the Research Say?

Compost: What Does the Research Say?

  Composting plant materials and manure offers a practical way to recycle crop residue and animal waste. The process of decomposition of these materials is sped up to provide a nutrient rich soil conditioner that provides a host of agroecosystem

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Managing Cover Crops Profitably

Managing Cover Crops Profitably

SARE’s publication is available free for download and is a comprehensive and practical resource with recommended species by U.S. region, a section on management in conservation tillage systems, soil fertility, and pest suppression.

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Integrating Livestock into a Cropping System for Sustainability & Soil Health

USDA NRCS East National Technology Support Center View this webinar to learn how the Small Angus Ranch in Burleigh County, North Dakota, is working toward the goals stated in the webinar title. Follow along the Small’s soil health road as

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Grazing Cover Crops

Grazing Cover Crops

How to manage livestock with adaptive grazing on cover cropped land, from the Wallace Center. The use of cover crops in row crop farming is becoming increasingly popular. According to a February 2013 bulletin from USDA-NRCS, the four keys to

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Cover Cropping in Vineyards

Cover Cropping in Vineyards

The use of cover crops can yield substantial benefits or be the source of unforeseen problems or drawbacks. The choice of which species to sow, as well as the decision whether or not to plant a cover crop, is based

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How to Add Compost on Your Small Farm

How to Add Compost on Your Small Farm

Compost provides nutrients to plants, improves soil structure, increases water holding capacity, and suppresses root diseases by supporting benefi cial microorganisms in the soil. It also helps improve porosity and the friability or ability to work the soil. It also

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Farming with Food Safety and Conservation

Farming with Food Safety and Conservation

Food-borne illness linked to pathogens in meat, processed food, and produce has led to increased attention to food safety issues at all points along the supply chain, including the farm. Farmers can produce safe food without sacrificing responsible on-farm conservation

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Building Soils for Better Crops

Building Soils for Better Crops

Building Soils for Better Crops is a one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management, now expanded and in full color. It provides step-by-step information on soil-improving practices as well as in-depth background—from what soil is to the importance of organic matter.

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Cover Crop Economics

Cover Crop Economics

When it comes to making the big decisions about managing a farm, whether it’s to grow a new crop, buy an expensive piece of equipment or upgrade infrastructure, farmers are business people first. If the idea doesn’t work out on paper, either by

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Biodiversidad: ¿Que es? Cómo Incrementarla En Su Rancho

Biodiversidad: ¿Que es? Cómo Incrementarla En Su Rancho

Biodiversidad (o diversidad biológica) es la variedad de vida. La biodiversidad comprende toda forma de vida, desde bacterias y hongos hasta pastos, helechos, insectos, y mamíferos. Más que eso, cubre una amplia variedad de procesos tales como el ciclo nitrogénico,

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Compost Use in Agriculture: Organic Materials Management

Compost Use in Agriculture: Organic Materials Management

Use of composted manures and plant materials in farming has a history almost as long as farming itself. California farmers enjoy access to high-quality compost and mulch products from a variety of feedstocks virtually everywhere in the state. California compost facilities permitted

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Wildfire & Rangeland Management: Mediating Impacts to Conservation & Ranching

Wildfire & Rangeland Management: Mediating Impacts to Conservation & Ranching

A series of presentations from California ranchers, technical advisors, and researchers on wildfire risk management in rangelands. From the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition.

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Integrating Livestock and Crops

Integrating Livestock and Crops

Traditional farms relied on livestock to maintain soil fertility and to use plant material that would otherwise have been wasted. Modern agriculture has tended to favor specialization, leading to large crop farms with no livestock. Incorporating livestock into a crop

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Cover Crops Database

Cover Crops Database

Cover crops can be broadly defined as any non-cash crop grown in addition to the primary cash crop.  They have the potential to increase soil organic matter (SOM), protect the soil from erosion, improve soil structure and water infiltration, increase

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Hedgerows: Benefits to Farmers, Benefits to wildlife

Hedgerows: Benefits to Farmers, Benefits to wildlife

A short guide to hedgerow design, installation, and maintenance. Prepared by the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County and CAFF.

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Sheep Grazing to Manage Crop Residues, Insects and Weeds

Sheep Grazing to Manage Crop Residues, Insects and Weeds

Recommendations for timing of grazing, stocking rates, animal selection, and more for purposes including weed and crop residue management in Northern Plains Grain and Alfalfa Systems.

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Hedgerows: Enhancing Agroecological Services

Hedgerows: Enhancing Agroecological Services

Hedgerows are linear assemblages of trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses densely planted along the borders of fields. Hedgerows provide multiple services including windbreak, erosion control, restoration of biodiversity, pollination, and biological control.

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Extending Hedgerow Systems in California Agriculture

Extending Hedgerow Systems in California Agriculture

When modern agriculture replaces natural habitat with crops, risks rise for soil erosion and runoff that can reduce water quality and its attendant impacts. Likewise, dust from farming activities can reduce air quality. Pressures from regulators and market mechanisms are

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Compost Science Webinar

Originally aired March 8, 2017 | Composting is both an art and a science. For some, composting is a passion and an emotional experience, but often when we start thinking emotionally we stop thinking rationally. Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist

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Soil My Undies Challenge: Skivvies & Soil Health

Healthy soil means hungry soil. With proper management, the ground beneath your crops should teem with millions of tiny lifeforms—bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, earthworms—all busy transferring nutrients, eating and decomposing organic material through nutrient cycling in processes that help

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Hedgerow Farms Case Study

Hedgerow Farms Case Study

John Anderson’s love of wildlife and concern about disappearing wildlife habitats is what drove him to become a farmer. He and his wife Marsha bought their Yolo County farm in 1974 and started doing habitat work on the edges of

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California Farmers Climate Pledge

California Farmers Climate Pledge

As California farmers and ranchers, our livelihoods as well as the ability to feed America entirely depends on the climate. Working close to Nature, we are the first to notice shifts in weather. On our land and in our harvests,

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Agricultural Composting & Water Quality

Agricultural Composting & Water Quality

Composting, a controlled process for stabilization of organic matter, can turn waste into a valuable soil amendment. Creating compost from waste materials provides an opportunity to return nutrients and organic matter to the soil, a proven practice for soil quality

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