Ron Harben, Ralph Cesena, and Danny Ramos Honored


Three Recognized For Work  
In Conservation Tillage


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Ron Harben
The Conservation Agricultural Systems Innovation (CASI) Center’s honored three pioneers in conservation tillage (CT) Thursday during the dinner portion of the  popular Twilight Field Day at the UC Westside Research and Education Center in Five Points.

Ron Harben was recognized for outstanding service to CASI for his truly exceptional contributions that he has made to conservational agriculture in California, noted Jeff Mitchell, a UC Davis cropping systems specialist and field day coordinator.

Harben is the Project Director at California Association of Resource Conservation Districts.

“Ron is responsible for our strategic planning initiative, and very pivotal to the work we are doing in conservation farming,” said Mitchell.

Ralph Cesena Sr. received the CASI Industry Innovator Award. “This award is a means of providing great visibility to conservation pioneers in California,” said Mitchell.
Ralph Cesena

Cesena is president of Cesena Distributing in Stockton. His contributions to the development and expansion of conservation tillage go way back to the 1980s. “He painstakingly worked to demonstrate and encourage farmers from  Yolo County to San Joaquin County to implement CT practices, including no-till and ridge till planting, and high residue cultivation,” said Mitchell.

“During this very early era of the introduction of CT approaches in California, Ralph literally stood by himself as a true loan voice for a better way. He was unquestionably way ahead of his time,” said Mitchell.

Danny Ramos was recognized for the CT Farmer Innovator Award.
Ramos is the manager of the Morning Star company’s Lucero Farms with operations in the central San Joaquin Valley. “Ramos is responsible for the company’s farming operation and he is the developer of efficient production paradigms for crop productivity and quality for the largest processed tomato company in the world,” said Mitchell
 
Danny Ramos
Ramos has implemented a whole host of conservation tillage practices on the farm over the past few years on tomatoes, corn and cover crops. “His work is nothing short of phenomenal,” said Mitchell.

Ramos began a very ambitious conservation tillage work at Morning Star in 2010, when he initiated a series of demonstration evaluations involving the use of off-season cover crops, coupled with minimum and strip-tilled management for tomato production.

“He also organized farm field evaluations of different cover crops, different cover crop management, followed by strip-tilled and minimum tillage in both Hollister and Madera, and invited CASI workgroup members to see the work and evaluate the performance of these approaches,” said Mitchell. “And he continued to improve the conservation tillage work.”

In 2012 Ramos did something that has never been done before in California. “He effectively doubled cropped tomatoes and strip-tilled corn in the same field,” said Mitchell.

In 2013 Ramos made a positive out of near failed wheat crop due to reduced water allocations. In that no-till wheat residue he planted and irrigated up  cotton on 60-inch beds that he rotates tomatoes and wheat on in a field south of Dos Palos. “Currently he has a good stand of cotton and has graciously hosted a no-till field event,” said Mitchell. He is deserving of this high honor.”

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