Kings County, Calif., dairy farmer Dino Giacomazzi has been presented the Conservation Tillage Farmer Innovator Award for 2009 by the University of California and the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Tillage Workgroup.

The award, established in 2005, honors farmers who have demonstrated innovation and leadership in the development, refinement and use of conservation tillage (CT) systems in California.

"Giacomazzi epitomizes the intent of this prestigious CT workgroup award and he continues, and indeed enhances, our tradition of acknowledging truly outstanding innovation and achievement," said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops specialist and the workgroup's chair, in presenting the honor.

In 2005, Giacomazzi initiated a demonstration evaluation of strip-till corn planting in a 28-acre field on his dairy.

"In his evaluation, he very thoroughly assessed all aspects of this new CT system and virtually guaranteed its ultimate success by the sheer intensity of this effort and by the comprehensive nature of his attention to detail," Mitchell said.

The next year, Giacomazzi set out a comprehensive array of strip-tillage evaluations that included three different strip-till implements, strip-till corn varieties and twin-row versus single-row planting configurations. Later in the season, he opened his dairy for a Strip-Till Field Day that attracted more than 150 farmers to view his evaluations’ results.

"To this day, I consider this field day to be the most successful extension education event that I have been involved with during my 14 years of service with UC," Mitchell said.

Giacomazzi repeated the field day in 2007. In spring 2008 he organized a public hearing session for the California Assembly Committee on Agriculture, chaired by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra. At the same time, Giacomazzi continued with his CT innovations on the farm, using a twin-row Monosem planter and GPS precision guidance application technologies from Trimble Corp. This instrumentation is designed to permit precision seed and nutrient application in the same planting pass.