The Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility is a unique 300-acre facility near the UC Davis campus dedicated to investigating irrigated and dry-land agriculture in a Mediterranean climate.
Russell Ranch is run like a commercial farm and hosts a variety of on-going research experiments managed by Russell Ranch staff and UC Faculty and Farm Advisors. Russell Ranch also supports UC Davis' extension and teaching missions by hosting field days, class field trips, undergraduate interns, and graduate student research.
At Russell Ranch we:
- cultivate partnerships and knowledge-sharing with farmers and growers
- do collaborative agroecological research to address major 21st-century agricultural challenges
- monitor and measure agricultural system responses to a changing climate
- collaborate with industry for the development of new agricultural technologies
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Our flagship experiment, The Century Experiment (formerly known as the LTRAS - Long Term Research on Agricultural Sustainability), is a 100-year study located on the main plots at Russell Ranch. On The Century Experiments 72 acres, we measure the long-term impacts of crop rotation, farming systems (conventional, organic and mixed) and inputs of water, nitrogen, carbon, and other elements on agricultural sustainability. Sustainability is indicated by long-term trends in yield, profitability, resource-use efficiency (such as water or energy), and environmental impacts.
Russell Ranch also hosts shorter-term experiments focused on investigating the sustainability and environmental impacts of agriculture. Microplots within each plot allow research on questions such as comparisons of drip and furrow irrigation, fertilization rates, and incorporation of composts and other agricultural waste products.
Adjacent to Russell Ranch, sits the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve. The Reserve is a stream and grassland ecosystem, managed for teaching, research, and wildlife and habitat protection. Mitigation areas near Russell Ranch are set aside for valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB) and Swainson's Hawk. In 2011, three 2000-foot wildflower strips were planted to study the effect of attracting pollinators to agricultural borders. Currently, the wildflower strips are managed in collaboration with the Xerces Society.