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Soil Health

Horizons in Soil Health

Speaker Information

The workshop presented new methods in quantitative assessments including those for microbial activity, soil organic matter, salinity and nutrient status. Local and national experts addressed key issues relevant to nutrient and water management, as well as managing for crop yield and economic factors. Links to each presentation in PDF format are available below.

Metagenomics: Principles and Applications

Dr. Raul Cano, Biological Sciences Department, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Raul Cano Presentation (PDF)

Dr. Raul Cano
Dr. Raul Cano is Professor Emeritus in the Biological Sciences Department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He is the founder of and served as director of the Environmental Biotechnology Institute (EBI), a precursor to the current Center for Applications in Biotechnology. Dr. Cano specializes in molecular and environmental microbiology. He is best known for his groundbreaking work with ancient DNA and microorganisms and his work has been published in scientific journals including Science, Nature, Microbial Ecology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and many more. His work has resulted in patents for isolating and characterizing ancient bacteria from amber inclusions, a PCR-based assay for applications in petroleum exploration as well as several genes from his efforts in the Lactobacillus acidophilus genome project. His current interest focuses in metagenomics and comparative metabolomics of environmental processes. He is also interested in studying the migration patterns of Caribbean indigenous populations through the use of metagenomic methods. Dr. Cano received his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Montana. He holds advanced degrees in genetics and clinical microbiology and has taught at Cal Poly for more than 30 years, where he has received more than a dozen awards, written more than 50 peer-reviewed publications as well as several textbooks and laboratory procedures manuals. Dr. Cano has served as scientific consultant to several Biotechnology firms, and has been elected fellow to the American Academy of Microbiology. As founding scientist and Chief Scientific Officer of Ambergene Corporation, he spearheaded and directed the isolation and characterization of more that 1,200 ancient microorganisms from amber, including 9 ancient yeasts, four of which are brewer’s yeasts. He also serves as President and Founder of Environmental Diagnostics.

Soil Health Monitoring Methods: Current and Evolving

Andrew Sparda, Intuitive Consulting Solutions
Andrew Sparda Presentation (PDF)

Andrew SpardaMr. Sparda worked for 14 years in biotechnology, where he gained extensive knowledge and experience in high level diagnostic laboratory training and consulting. His biochemistry background includes hematology, laser-flow cytometry, endocrinology, fluid therapy, elisa technology/rapid assays, electrolytes and blood gases. He also worked as the Director of Customer Relations for a private sector laboratory which holds a USDA Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. In that role, Mr. Sparda traveled the nation presenting ecological solutions directly to growers, laboratories, Universities, and researchers. He remains a leading consultant in national and international independent laboratory practices and proficiency program utilization. His passion is in the development of standards and practices in agricultural and environmental science. Mr. Sparda is now President & CEO of Intuitive Consulting Solutions, where his efforts are focused on providing more targeted industrial extension solutions. His passion for true sustainability is evident in the dedication he shows to the grower as their best interest is always at the forefront of his efforts.

Implementing a Soil Health Management System on Orchards: A case study in pecans

Clarence Chavez, USDA-NRCS, New Mexico
Chavez Presentation: Pecan Soil Health Management (PDF)
Chavez Presentation: Soil Quality Test (PDF)
Chavez Presentation: Field Kit Overview (PDF)

Clarence ChavezClarence Chavez is a Resource Soil Scientist with 39 years experience. Soil Health proponent: Specializing in technical aspect of soils relating to the complex interrelations of the "Biological, Chemical and Physical" elements of Dynamic Soil Properties (DSP). Mr. Chavez provides training and develops educational illustrations on soil health. His educational presentations are designed to provide guidance, leadership, management strategies and the understanding of dynamic soil properties to growers. 

Mr. Chavez works closely with Rudy Garcia at the USDA-NRCS in the state of New Mexico. This agency has been emphasizing soil health for the last eight years and has provided over seventy soil health workshops for producers throughout New Mexico. They have developed a website for soil health that contains basic guidance on how to understand the various components of a comprehensive Soil Health Management System. Prior to becoming the State Agronomist, Mr. Garcia served as District Conservationist, Soil Conservationist, and Field Agronomist for the NRCS. As a Field Agronomist for over twelve years, he worked on several special projects referred to as the Dona Ana Hydrologic Water Quality Project and the Elephant Butte Irrigation Demonstration Project. For both of these projects, field demonstration with producers involved work on: irrigation water management, nutrient management, salinity management, use of soil amendments, evaluation of irrigation system efficiencies and other agronomic practices. During this time, he took hundreds of soil, water and tissue samples from various crops in order to develop nutrient budgets, improve soil health and remediate soil salinity.

Green Analytical Chemistry: Analytical grade enzymes for nitrate and phosphate measurement

Ellen Campbell, Nitrate Elimination Company, Inc.
Ellen Campbell Presentation (PDF)

Ellen CampbellMs. Campbell co-founded NECi (Nitrate Elimination Corporation, Inc.) with her husband, Dr. Bill Campbell, in 1993. She currently has the lead role in business development and financial management at NECi. She is also involved in experimental design and performance, supervision of lab and administrative personnel, contract management and proposal preparation. She is Principle Investigator or Co-PI on NECi’s competitive research awards and grants. Ms. Campbell has a BS in Chemistry/Biochemistry from SUNY Environmental Science and Chemistry, Syracuse, NY. She switched from pharmacology research, where she specialized in HPLC methods development, to biochemistry and molecular biology research when she accompanied her husband on his move to MI Tech University in 1985. Interest in business was piqued while on sabbatical in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1992, following a publication in Nature of work on an immobilized enzyme system for removal of nitrate from drinking water. She has been involved in biotechnology research since 1982. Her industrial R&D experience began in 1992, as Laboratory Director of the Enzyme Products Division of Agrecol, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin.

Lysimeter Monitoring in Proactive Fertility Management and Early Salt Detection

Eryn Gray, Ag Laboratory and Consulting

Eryn GrayMr. Gray brings over ten years of agronomic and production management experience to Ag Laboratory & Consulting, where he serves as Principal Agronomist and Managing Partner. He is a California State licensed Pest Control Advisor (PCA) and Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) through the American Society of Agronomy. Eryn has worked in production for some of the world’s largest producers. He has developed a keen sense of understanding of how agronomics can maximize production, ultimately increasing efficiency and profitability. Ag Laboratory & Consulting started as a small lysimeter laboratory in 2011, analyzing soil solution using lysimeters. In late 2013 the owners of Ag Laboratory & Consulting decided to expand the laboratory to provide a full range of analytical services as well as free agronomic support for growers on the Central Coast. They focus upon a wide variety of crops ranging from row crops, berry crops, vineyards, trees and field crops. Ag Laboratory & Consulting has Soil Scientists, Agronomists, Crop Advisors, and Pest Control Advisors on staff and strives to provide growers with tangible analytical data while supporting growers to develop the data into best management practices.


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