The second annual Overhead Irrigation and Conservation Cropping Systems Twilight Filed Tour in Five Points included presentation of several awards for private sector innovation in conservation tillage and irrigation.

Winners included:

• Alan Wilcox and Juan Trujillo with Wilcox Agriproducts in Walnut Grove, Calif. They have come up with conservation tillage implements that over the past decade and a half have become common in many sectors of annual crop production systems.

Their equipment includes the “Performer,” which has multiple tools to incorporate bed-preserving residue, and the “Eliminator,” which creates seedbeds following crop harvest. They also developed a calculator that projects the costs associated with a wide range of tillage management scenarios.

• Kevin McDonald, president and owner of Tillage International in Turlock, Calif., the creative force behind the Incorpramaster, a patented one-pass tillage implement that has been shown in research studies to reduce fuel use, tillage time and dust emissions. 

He also made improvements to the implement that has now become the Optimizer.

• Michael Crowell of Bar Vee Dairy in Turlock, who did pioneering work to develop and expand no-till dairy forage production systems not only at his dairy, but also throughout the Turlock region.

His entire dairy is now completely no-till including no-till twin row corn, no-till drilled sorghum sudan, followed by no-till wheat or triticale. 

He completely modified a Monosem planter he bought to produce twin-row corn no-till.  This is a pull type planter that has been specially modified to apply fertilizers and achieve very uniform stands. 

• Steve Fortner and Fred Leavitt of Sun Pacific Farming in Exeter, Calif.  Together, they developed and refined state-of-the-art tomato production systems that employ strip tillage with winter cover crops. 

Their farms throughout California now employ aspects of these practices and their main production fields in the Firebaugh area have been using these approaches for more than eight years. 

• Fritz Durst, the owner of Tule Farms in the Dunnigan Hills in Yolo County.  He is a conservation tillage pioneer in an area of the state that in the early 1980’s was subject to massive erosion that resulted from the conventional tillage practices that used a moldboard plow and little or no residues to protect the soil from the impacts of rain.
Durst has not seen one erosion gully in his wheat and barley fields since he adopted a no-till approach. He also pioneered the use of the innovative seeding configuration known as the 5 / 15 system in which two seed rows five inches apart are planted, then 15 inches are skipped before repeating. 

• Claude C. Laval III, chairman and founder of the Claude Laval Corp. He founded the company in 1972, to manufacture centrifugal-action separators and water well and pipe inspection cameras invented by his father.

With international sales becoming a big part of his business strategy Lavall ramped up production in 1984, moving into a 100,000 square foot manufacturing, sales, marketing and engineering headquarters in Fresno.

 As a multi-million dollar industry the company supplies a wide range of industrial, commercial residential and agricultural filtration products for both the domestic and international markets

Laval is chairman of International Center for Water Technology at Fresno State University and sits on numerous Fresno councils, boards and foundations.