California Inventor Receives Award for Outstanding Contributions to Conservation in Agriculture

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The University of California's Conservation Tillage Workgroup recently recognized Al Ruozi, a Bakersfield inventor, for more than fifty years of research and innovation in reduced tillage farming systems.

Born in 1917, Al Ruozi grew up on a small cotton and alfalfa farm in southeast Bakersfield. "As a young boy I learned that you have to walk the furrow to find out what the soil is like. I thought there must be a better way to work the land." World events temporarily interrupted his quest to find that better way. At the beginning of World War II, Ruozi went to work as a welder for Henry J. Kaiser Shipbuilding in Richmond, California. He soon became a lead-man and then a welding instructor for the state. His students built both Liberty and Victory ships for the War Production Board. He entered the U. S. Army in 1945 and was one of the first occupation troops in Japan following the surrender. After the war Ruozi formed Interstate Equipment & Mfg. Co., in Bakersfield, and began to develop a cotton stalk and root shredder that later evolved into a one-pass tillage machine for cotton production.

Growing vegetables on land that had previously produced cotton presented a problem because the root and stubble left in the field would not decay rapidly. The debris left in the soil would mark the developing vegetable crop and downgrade its quality. In the 1950s, implements on the market did a fine job of shredding residue above the ground but no machine could successfully remove and shred both cotton stalks and roots. Ruozi designed his first implement to help cotton growers who planted potatoes after cotton. He envisioned a unique machine that would dig and pull the cotton plants out by the roots, shred them, till the bed and return the mulch to the soil all in one field operation. Local cotton farmers expressed great interest in his machine because it was difficult to grow top-grade vegetables with the cotton stubble still in the field from the previous crop. Ruozi patented his invention and continued to improve its performance each year. He added an optional rebedding attachment so the machine could now perform all fall tillage operations in one trip over the field, allowing farmers to plant their next crop back in the same beds. Ruozi renamed his original implement the "Cotton Shredder-Bedder."

U. S. Dept. of Agriculture tests achieved dramatic results with the use of Ruozi’s machine. They reported a decrease of 80% in land preparation costs and as much as a 20% increase in cotton yield. More recent tests conducted by the University of California's Westside Field Station in Five Points, show substantial savings for farmers who adopt conservation tillage. In addition, this energy-saving system helps to build-up the topsoil by concentrating vital organic matter in the growing area. With improved soil tilth there is less potential for wind and water erosion. Since the Cotton Shredder-Bedder shreds cotton roots as well as stalks, it destroys the habitat of pink bollworm and other cotton pests. Field sanitation is an important cultural practice in keeping destructive insects and diseases under control.

Ruozi has met and overcome many challenges in his life because of his vision and persistence. He states that, “In the 21st century cotton producers must strive to become more efficient in order to be strong competitors in the world market. Cutting production costs through the adoption of conservation tillage is not only good for the farmer but also good for the soil, water and air resources." Ruozi’s Cotton Shredder-Bedder provides the latest technology with a system that is friendly to the environment and sustainable for future generations.

For additional information contact:

Marilyn Robolino

Interstate Equipment & Mfg. Corp.

P.O. Box 70296

Bakersfield, CA 93387-0296

phone 661-322-6659

fax 661-322-7448

http://www.cottonshredderbedder.com

In business for over 56 years, Interstate Equipment & Mfg. Corp. is a family-owned research and development company dedicated to preserving farmland through conservation agriculture.

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Marilyn Robolino
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