eNewsletter | July Edition
In this month's edition:

  • Help us reach 1k followers on Instagram this summer!
  • Field trial summary: Tillage Impacts on Soil Health and Water Retention
  • Partner focus: a fond farewell to Leslie Ferguson
  • USDA's Corona Virus Food Assistance Program still taking applications
  • Virtual workshop July 30: exploring connections on the vineyard floor
  • Groundwater management workshops this month in all three basins
  • Partner opportunity: Prescribed Fire Training Exchange Program
What's New at Your RCD
From the field: our summer in photos
We may be working remotely, but the outdoors is open for (socially-distanced) business! Here are just a few of our staff's summer photos from the field. If you're interested in seeing more of what we're up to, be sure to follow us on Instagram @sonomarcd and help us reach 1k followers this summer!
Tillage Impacts on Soil Health and Water Retention
Summary of a Sonoma Valley Vineyard Field Trial
By Keith Abeles, Soil and Water Specialist
There is spirited, ongoing debate on how to best manage tillage in vineyard tractor rows. Proponents and practitioners of full till, no till or alternate row tillage all make good arguments, often with great passion. The “best tillage” for a site might depend on soil, slope, or management needs, but pertinent questions remain:
  • What is the best management to retain moisture in the soil?
  • Can water be conserved through a specific type of tillage management?
  • Which management is the best for soil health and ultimately grape production and quality?

Proponents of tillage see it as a necessary tool to diminish competition for water and nutrients, and to control weeds. Those who favor no till argue that it improves soil structure and increases organic matter, which improves soil health and water retention. Many argue that alternate row management provides the best intermediary solution – a tilled row to manage inputs and fertility and a non- tilled row to access vines in winter and spring, and reduce impacts and costs associated with tillage. With these questions and considerations in mind, and a desire to get more answers based on data versus observation, or a growers’ sense of what is best management, the Sonoma RCD secured a NRCS grant in 2016 to do a field trial at a working vineyard in Kenwood. We partnered with John MacLeod of MacLeod Family Vineyards, who shared interest in these questions as a long-time grower and retired environmental geologist. Soil scientist Dr. Josh Beniston, head of the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Sustainable Agriculture program, was brought on board as the project scientist. Dr. Mark Greenspan, President of Advanced Viticulture, joined the effort as a consultant assisting with soil moisture tracking and analysis.

<Continued online. Read the full summary >
North Coast Soil Hub
The Soil Hub is a network of farmers, industry representatives, scientists, and agricultural professionals committed to enhancing soil health across Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties in California. We are a regional platform for soils-related information sharing. We connect our community to valuable programs and opportunities such as carbon farm planning, soil health assessments, farmer-to-farmer workshops, and more! You can visit us at http://soilhub.org to see the latest information on our regional soil health demos, read our resources, and learn how to get involved.

2020 Working Lands Calendar: July highlight
Partner Focus
A fond farewell to Leslie Ferguson
Sonoma RCD would like to take a moment to recognize a special partner, Leslie Ferguson, and wish her all the best as she embarks on her retirement! Leslie has spent over 12 years working as a civil engineer and grant program liaison at the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. Sonoma RCD staff have had the pleasure of collaborating with Leslie on several grants received from the Water Board for erosion control and stream habitat improvement projects. Leslie has always been a champion for the RCDs and the type of work that we do in the community. We thank her for her passion, enthusiasm, endless support, and mentorship in advancing conservation work around our region! We wish Leslie a retirement full of great adventures, running, and family time!

Now, for a poem written by Elise Suronen of Marin RCD , in honor of Leslie receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Salmonid Restoration Federation in 2019. 
Community Engagement
USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is now open
Are you a farmer or rancher whose operation has been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? USDA is providing critical support to our nation’s farmers and ranchers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). CFAP provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities with financial assistance that gives them the ability to absorb sales declines and increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will provide direct relief to producers who have suffered losses during the 2020 marketing year due to COVID-19. See the CFAP Fact Sheet + Eligibility Requirements for more details.
How to apply for CFAP assistance
As part of applying for the program, you’ll need to contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office at your local USDA Service Center to schedule an appointment. Call the Sonoma County FSA main line at (707) 794-1242 and press 2 for the Farm Service Agency. Schedule an appointment to discuss your CFAP application. You can go online to www.farmers.gov/CFAP   to download applications and related forms. Your local FSA staff will work with you via phone, email, fax, mail, or online tools to complete your application. Please do not send any personal information to USDA without first initiating contact through a phone call. 

Virtual Workshops | Resources
Demo Workshop lll: Exploring connections on the vineyard floor
Exploring connections between vineyard floor management and soil health and carbon retention: a virtual update on Jackson Family Wine's Saralee's field demonstration and research highlights from Dr. Cristina Lozcano, UC Davis.

Here is a taste of who you will hear from:
  • Soil health data highlights from Dr. Josh Beniston
  • Insights about practice adoption from Jackson Family Wine’s vineyard team
  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Cristina Lozcano, Assistant Professor in Soil Ecology and Plant Nutrition at UC Davis, will highlight her ongoing research about influence of no-till and compost application on soil health and greenhouse gas emissions in winegrape production

RSVP here - don’t miss this opportunity to learn more and ask questions about boosting soil health in your own vineyard!   QUESTIONS?  Please contact Anya Starovoytov, project manager at (707) 569-1448 ext 109 or email  astarovoytov@sonomarcd.org

The 2017 Healthy Soils Demonstration Project is funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds and is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment.
Groundwater Management Workshops
From the three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs)
Sonoma County's three GSAs are hosting virtual workshops this month! Learn about the groundwater basin you live in, including geology and potential problems with groundwater levels and quality. In addition, these virtual meetings will delve into Sustainable Management Criteria (SMCs), which are the heart of the Groundwater Sustainability Plans.
All workshops take place virtually through Zoom from 5:30 - 7:00 PM.  You will have the opportunity to participate in a “virtual” break out discussion to provide your feedback following the presentations.

Click on the basin of interest below to register to attend:

Wednesday, July 15 - Petaluma Valley
Monday, July 20 - Sonoma Valley
Wednesday, July 29 - Santa Rosa Plain

For more information, check out the new agency websites made for each basin here http://sonomacountygroundwater.org/
Prescribed Fire Training Exchange Program
Organized by Fire Forward and the Bay Area Prescribed Fire Council
Apply by August 1st! Join a diverse group of participants for three to eight weekends of prescribed fire training and hands on experience in the North Bay area across a multitude of landscapes.
Attend a technical workshop to receive the latest science-based information on how to best manage your soil, water and wildlife on
your property.
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