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San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project

As the acres of row crops in California's Central Valley began to shift to acres of tree crops (almonds, walnuts and pistachios), California also became the largest dairy producing state. These changing crop patterns and shifts to offshore business and cheap imports led cotton acres in California to decline dramatically. Cotton growers in the Sustainable Cotton Project were among those who increased their acres of alfalfa to feed those high producing dairy cows and many, for the first time, planted almonds to increase their profitability. With this shift in crops came an increased demand for technical assistance from growers who had grown row crops for generations. SCP saw the opportunity to expand our grower outreach work to almonds and alfalfa and secured funding to help growers of all three of these important crops implement management practices that protect local watersheds, improve air quality and support rural communities. Our San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project works with alfalfa, almond and cotton growers in Merced, Madera and Fresno counties to promote these sustainable farming practices.

Alfalfa


Photo Credit: Karina Corbett Photography

Our goal is to provide information, resources and on-farm assistance to growers interested in reducing their environmental and regulatory risk through science-based information from University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management and UC Cooperative Extension advisors.
Project field scouts work with growers' Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) to augment field scouting. Field days bring in agricultural experts to address current issues and help growers implement Best Management Practices, and the project offers growers an opportunity to complete a farm self-assessment process to understand their environmental impacts and increase opportunities for stewardship.

Almonds


Photo Credit: Karina Corbett Photography

SCP's San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project supports local growers and has the following benefits:
• Valuable land stays in farming, providing open space, habitat, and refuge for beneficial insects.
• Local food and fiber production maintains jobs and supplies needed income for local economies.
• Water and air quality improves locally and regionally.
• Alfalfa production helps reduce erosion, increases water penetration and improves soil quality.
• Strip cutting or alfalfa interplanting encourages biological control of insect pests, such as lygus in cotton, and reduces need to spray harmful chemicals.
• Annual and perennial crops add and retain carbon in the soil.
• Planting annual habitat strips along field margins create food and nectar sources for beneficial insects and habitat for wildlife.
• Opportunity to participate in Cleaner Cotton™ program and sell local cotton to the textile and apparel markets pursuing sustainable fashion.

Cotton