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. Our research is focused on production-scale field experiments, in an effort to produce knowledge that is relevant to growers, farm advisers, and policy practitioners. We evaluate the agronomic, economic, and environmental outcomes of a variety of farm management techniques.
The Century Experiment
Our flagship experiment, The Century Experiment (formerly known as the LTRAS - Long Term Research on Agricultural Sustainability), is an ongoing 100-year study located on 72 acres at Russell Ranch. 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 measured by long-term trends in yield, profitability, resource-use efficiency (such as water or energy), and environmental impacts.
We have monitored changes in crop and soil properties, greenhouse gas emissions, weed ecology and economic indicators since 1993.
Russell Ranch is primarily a research facility and also supports UC Davis' extension and teaching missions by hosting field days, class field trips, undergraduate interns and graduate student research.
Russell Ranch also hosts numerous shorter-term experiments investigating different aspects of sustainability and environmental impacts of agriculture. These include investigations in designated microplots within the Century Experiment plots with research on questions such as comparisons of drip and furrow irrigation, fertilization rates, and incorporation of composts and other agricultural waste products. Satellite plots surrounding the Century Experiment include experiments on biochar amendments, soil health, and integrating livestock grazing into cropping systems.
Russell Ranch is immediately adjacent to the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve. The Reserve is a riparian 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.
Russell Ranch Science Plan
The original goal of Russell Ranch’s 100-‐year experiment -‐The Century Experiment (formerly LTRAS) -‐ designed in 1990 and implemented in 1993, was to investigate the effects of external inputs on the sustainability of cropping systems. Now, 19 years into the experiment, some of the original questions have been answered, and some of the original research priorities have been eclipsed by emerging issues. The design has been modified, and in some cases expanded, to address current global and regional problems, to support shifting faculty research interests, and to be feasible with existing budgetary constraints.