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Summer 2007 Conservation Quarterly - Yolo County Resource Conservation District

Summer 2007 Conservation Quarterly - Yolo County Resource Conservation District

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Summer 2007 Conservation Quarterly - Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Summer 2007 Conservation Quarterly - Yolo County Resource Conservation District

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Published by: Yolo County Resource Conservation District on Dec 08, 2011
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Summer 2007
Yolo County ResourceConservation District
Published by the Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Continued on page 2 
Inside this edition:Inside this edition:Inside this edition:Inside this edition:Inside this edition:
Jim and Andrea Mayer.
Volume 11Issue 2
Conservation Profile: Mayer Farm
Irrigation Evaluation Services Available
Ag Water Quality Support Program Services
YCRCD Welcomes Mark Lane
Cache Creek Discovery Day a Splash
Caltrans Vegetation Project Update
 Will Baker Native Plant Garden Progress
ConserConserConserConserConseration Pration Pration Pration Pration Profile: Blendinofile: Blendinofile: Blendinofile: Blendinofile: Blendin g Oil and W g Oil and W g Oil and W g Oil and W g Oil and Water f ater f ater f ater f ater f or Wor Wor Wor Wor Wildlif ildlif ildlif ildlif ildlif e Habitate Habitate Habitate Habitate Habitat
by Diane Crumley by Diane Crumley by Diane Crumley by Diane Crumley by Diane Crumley 
Jim and Andrea Mayer live and farm on 20 acreslocated south of Woodland near Willow Slough wherethey produce organic olive oil, hand-crafted from a blendof mostly Tuscan olive tree varieties. Their olive oil calledFrate Sole, translates from Italian to Brother Sun, a phraseused in a canticle written by St. Francis of Assisi that de-scribes the attributes of nature in family terms. St. Francis’deep appreciation and respect for plants, animals and natu-ral resources is shared and demonstrated by the Mayers,and is a fundamental part of their business plan.Jim and Andrea selected Yolo County as the place tolive, farm and raise a family largely because of its reputa-tion for being a region with innovative farmers dedicatedto preserving and sustaining both agriculture and wild-life habitat. It was for similar reasons that Jim Mayerbecame involved with the Yolo County Resource Con-servation District, where he has served for several yearson the board of directors, and is currently Vice Chair.Jim’s background, training and work in environmen-tal journalism and public policy administration areimportant as-sets to theYCRCD board.All farmingoperations, re-gardless of sizeand crop typecan face chal-lenges imposedby topography,soil composi-tion, waterdelivery, drain-age, flood risk,and competi-tion frominvasive speciesand potentialpests. In Jim Mayer’s case, his farmland had previouslybeen fallow and infested with noxious weeds such asyellow star thistle. Additionally, the northeast low-ly-ing portion of the property hosts silty, clay-alkaline soilformed over time by the annual pattern of flooding andponding after winter storms, leaving that ground un-suitable for crop production.To address these issues, the Mayers worked on theirown to grade the property and create elevated areas toprotect their home site, barn and orchards from seasonalflooding, and to direct runoff towards an informal pondin the flood-prone northeast three acres of the property.They also planted a grove of young valley oaks alongthe western boundary to provide screening from sun andwind, additional native habitat, and eventually replacethe existing row of non-native eucalyptus trees. They
Conservation Quarterlypage 2Summer 2007
Oil and Water, continued from page 1
RCD DirectorsRCD DirectorsRCD DirectorsRCD DirectorsRCD DirectorsBlair Voelz,
 James Mayer,
Vice Chairman
Rudy Lucero,
David Gilmer,
Rachael Freeman-Long,
Wyatt Cline,
Associate Director 
Scott Stone,
Associate Director 
Garth Williams,
Associate Director 
Executive Director 
 Jeanette Wrysinski,
Senior Program Manager 
William Spong,
Water Quality Technician
Mark Lane,
Water Lab Manager 
Sean Kenady,
Revegetation Specialist 
 John Reynolds,
Revegetation Assistant 
Daniel Constable,
Water Management Program Asst.
Tanya Meyer,
Vegetation Management Specialist 
Sue McCloud,
Diane Crumley,
Technical Writer 
Sheila Pratt,
Administrative Assistant 
District Conservationist 
Wendy Rash,
Soil Conservationist 
Ha Truong,
Agricultural Engineer 
Nick Gallagher,
Rangeland Management Specialist 
included cover crops on the floor of the olive orchard,which is irrigated with a water-conserving drip system.In 2006, Jim partnered with conservationists fromYCRCD and NRCS, and a UC Davis landscape architec-ture student to produce a Whole-Farm Conservation Plan,as part of a biennial ‘Farmscape Architecture’ coursetaught and designed by YCRCD Executive Director, PaulRobins. The planning process enabled the Mayers to con-duct an integrated site analysis, clarify their goals andobjectives for the land, and develop a five-year imple-mentation and funding plan. With the plan, the Mayers are now working towardfurther development of the farm pond that includes twosmall habitat islands, the installation of flap gates andflashboard risers to contain the water during the wetseason, and native plantings along the edges to providebank stability and habitat. Apart from flood control, thepond will allow for groundwater recharge, capture sedi-ment, and improve the quality of water leaving theproperty that eventually drains to Willow Slough. West of the pond,runningalong thenorthernboundary of the farm arelow hedgerowplantings toestablish awindbreak,to encouragethe presenceof beneficial birds and insects, and serve as a naturalbarrier to minimize weed seed drift from the adjacentfallow property. Directly south of this area, Jim plansto build a barn this summer to house the sheep andgoats that are planned additions to their farm to assistwith natural weed management. Sheep grazing canfunction similarly to native herbivore grazing, and byplanting native vegetation in pasture areas, it canmimic the natural rangeland ecosystem.Jim Mayer’s 8.5-acre organic olive orchard utilizescover crops for nitrogen fixation, weed control, reduc-tion of soil erosion from wind and water, andadditional forage when sheep are introduced to theoperation. The trees arespaced generously, com-pared to current industrystandards of planting at in-creasingly high densities tofacilitate mechanical har-vesting. At the Mayer’sfarm, all harvesting is doneby hand with family andfriends on busy weekends inNovember. The hand-pickedolives are then rushed to becold-pressed within 24hours to maximize the oil’sflavor and freshness.Jim and Andrea’s FrateSole Tuscan-blend won agold medal at Yolo CountyFair’s first-ever olive oil com-petition in 2005, a silver medal in 2006, a Best of YoloCounty award in 2007, and they also medaled at themore widely attended Los Angeles County Fair. Theyare already looking forward to the late fall, when onceagain, they will have the opportunity to bring friendsand family together to enjoy the camaraderie of theharvest and the diversity of on-site plants and wildlifebenefiting from their farm stewardship.
Jim and Andrea examining young olives.Sam Mayer during harvest.
Conservation QuarterlySummer 2007page 3
Growers in Yolo and SolanoCounties can be reimbursed for thecosts of installing sediment traps,vegetated ditches, and cover cropsthanks to a grant from the State Wa-ter Resources Control Board usingfunds from Proposition 50. YoloCounty RCD staff are partnering withSolano and Dixon RCD, and the YoloCounty Farm Bureau Education Cor-poration to provide technical support,on-farm water quality monitoring, andoutreach about the benefits of thesebest management practices.A sediment trap is an excavatedditch with an outflow control struc-ture that temporarily impoundsirrigation tailwater or storm water run-off. The sediment can later be removedand deposited on an adjacent field oropen land at the end of the season.YCRCD has documented the ability of these traps to reduce the volume of sediment in run-off water by 30 to50% over the course of an irrigationseason. One two-stage sediment trapand tailwater pond reduced sedimentconcentrations by 98% in a 2000YCRCD study.In vegetated drainage ditches, liv-ing and decomposing plants/roots andthe associated microorganisms slowThe especially dry winter has resulted in an earlystart for irrigations this year. The Yolo County RCDinvites Yolo and Colusa County growers to requestfree irrigation system evaluations through the Mo-bile Water Lab Program. Services include:determining the system’s distribution uniformity,measuring the total volume of water applied duringan irrigation event, developing a system map of pres-sure and flow measurements, providing irrigationscheduling assistance, and optional water qualitysampling of source irrigation water and/or runoff.By measuring nitrogen inputs from well-water be-fore irrigation, it enables growers to potentiallyreduce the amount of fertilizer applied to the field.Over the past two years, the Mobile Water Lab hasidentified ways in which growers have been able toimprove irrigation efficiency by 15% on average. Thisfree analysis can help growers save water, electricityand money, and improve the water quality of run-off.water flow, trap sediment and takeup excess nutrients and pesticides. Ina well-designed and well-maintainedditch, vegetation can detain 40-95%of certain pesticides. From a recentfield trial performed by YCRCD staff and colleagues, Program ManagerJeanette Wrysinski reported thatpreliminary results indicate that thelength of vegetated ditch requiredto reduce permethrin (a pyrethroidpesticide) concentration by one half was 22 meters, compared to 347meters in a non-vegetated ditch—amore than 90% increase in ‘distanceefficiency’ required to reduce pesti-cide concentrations.Cover crops are commonly usedin permanent crops and most organicagriculture for their nutrient benefits.They also help to protect and anchorthe soil and capture runoff, allowingrain and irrigation water to penetratethe soil, instead of eroding it. UCDavis and YCRCD studies have showncover crops to reduce storm run-off by as much as 90% and to decreasethe concentration of sediment in run-off by 30-45%.Monitoring information fromthis project will further refine our un-derstanding of how and to whatdegree these practices improve farmrunoff water quality. For more infor-mation, please contact Mark Lane atthe Yolo County RCD at (530) 662-2037, extension 120 or AndreaMummert at the Solano RCD at (707)678-1655, extension 101. For factsheets about each of these practices,link to the YCRCD website, Ag WaterQuality page at www.yolorcd.org/ programs/agwq.Over the past month Lab Manager Mark Lane and WaterManagement Assistant Daniel Constable have conductedseven irrigation evaluations covering a total of 400 acres of almond, walnut, prune and orange orchards. They evalu-ated a total of 230 acres that utilized drip irrigation and170 acres using micro sprinkler systems. Daniel, a 2006graduate from the UC Davis Environmental & Resource Sci-ences program, assisted last year with 32 irrigationassessments that included over 1100 acres of vineyards, al-mond and walnut orchards, and alfalfa fields.The evaluations are planned to work around growers’busy summer schedules. The Mobile Lab is currently takingappointments, and can be reached by calling Mark or Danielat (530)662-2037, extension 120. For additional informa-tion and a printable brochure, visit the RCD website atwww.yolorcd.org . The free services of the Mobile Lab aremade possible through funding from the U.S. Bureau of Rec-lamation, the California Dept. of Water Resources Office of  Water Use Efficiency and Transfers, and NRCS.
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Cover crops can filter and reduce runoff from permanent and annual crop lands while providing soil quality and nutrient benefits.

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