California farmers have proven repeatedly they can be quick to adopt new technology.

GPS tractor guidance systems and the compatible variable rate technology along with drip irrigation are two cases in point.

Conservation tillage advocates contend CT offers much the same advancement as satellite directed tractors and micro irrigation systems.

CT consumes less energy and labor, thereby reduces costs, reduces environmental impacts, increases soil carbon content and improves soil tilth, fertility and overall organic matter, according to CT apostles.

However, after more than a decade of one of the most intensive research efforts, coupled with a media blitz, California farmers are proving slow-to-reluctant to adopt Midwest-style conservation tillage (CT) farming practices.

Despite the accolades from a handful of progressive growers who have adopted CT technology, many believe true no-dirt-moving conservation tillage still represents only roughly 1 percent of row crop acreage in the state, even though it can at least maintain and often surpass yields of so-called conventional tillage.

Jeff Mitchell, University of California cropping systems specialist, is the driving force behind the California conservation tillage thrust and recently spearheaded a media gathering in Clovis, Calif., to promote California’s Conservation Agriculture Systems Institute (CASI).

Formed in 1998, CASI has been the promoter of conservation tillage and of late pivot and linear irrigation systems as part of the conservation tillage mantra.

Since it was formed, CASI has brought together more than 1,500 farmers, the private sector, universities, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, other public agencies and environmental groups to “solve economic and environmental quality challenges” in California’s central valley farming.

One of Mitchell’s early converts was Dino Giacomazzi, a fourth-generation dairy farmer in Hanford, Calif.

Giacomazzi, who began his CT journey in 2003, was the keynote speaker at the Clovis event. He farms 900 acres, all of it for feed for his 950-head dairy. He double crops wheat and corn using strip-till. He also grows alfalfa for his family dairy.