The University of California Cooperative Extension conservation tillage conference for 2005, scheduled for Thursday, June 16, will feature comprehensive tours of cotton, tomato and dairy forage farms, where leaders in the use of this innovative farming practice are implementing the systems in commercial settings.

Attendees will learn directly from the growers and from private sector and University research partners who are working with them. There will be opportunities to view conservation tillage equipment and to learn about pest management issues, financial impacts and potential air quality benefits.

“Instead of indoor workshops and local tours, this year we are offering tours around the valley to see the farms being successfully managed by our conservation tillage pioneers,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops specialist and the conference coordinator.

The conference begins with breakfast at 7 a.m. at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center, just south of Five Points. At 8 a.m., an awards ceremony will honor the recipient of this year's CT Farmer Innovation Award.

Participants may select one of two tours: conservation tillage in cotton and tomatoes, or conservation tillage in dairy forage.

Stops along the cotton and tomato tour will be made at farms in Five Points, Kerman, Firebaugh and Dos Palos. The tour will feature a wide range of conservation systems, including the use of innovative one-pass implements for cotton bed preparation and strip-till cover crop systems for tomatoes.

The dairy forage tour includes farms in Burrell, Riverdale and Hilmar. A variety of no-till and strip-till corn and winter forage systems will be discussed.

Theannual conference is sponsored by the University of California Cooperative Extension/USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Tillage Workgroup.

Pre-registration, including the tour, breakfast and lunch, is $10 per person. Registration forms are available on the Web at http://groups.ucanr.org/ucct, or by contacting Diana Nix at (559) 646-6526, dnix@uckac.edu. On-site registration the day of the tours is $20. For more information about the tours, contact Mitchell at (559) 303-9698, mitchell@uckac.edu.