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Almond Board of California invests $5.9 mn in next-gen farming research

Posted: 13 December 2019 | | No comments yet

The investment will allegedly fund 85 independent research projects that aim to reduce water usage, achieve zero waste and open new opportunities for innovation.

Almond Board of California invests $5.9 mn in next-gen farming research

The Almond Board of California (ABC), a research and industry development organisation, has announced an investment of $5.9 million dollars in 85 independent research projects exploring next-generation farming practices. With this commitment, the California almond community has reportedly invested $89 mn in research since 1973 to build a foundation of knowledge on responsible farming practices, food quality and safety and almonds’ impact on human health.

The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals, launched in January 2019, will allegedly utilise this research as farmers strive to meet measurable objectives with the goal of growing almonds in better, safer and healthier ways. The recently released Almond Orchard 2025 Goals Roadmap is said to outline the almond community’s sustainability journey in goal areas, as well as the metrics that the industry’s progress will be measured against.  

“The California almond community takes a long-term view of success based on respect for the land and local communities. Earlier this year, the California almond community set four ambitious goals aligning with our vision to make life better by what we grow and how we grow,” said Holly King, Chair of the Almond Board of California. “The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals build on decades of progress, fuelled by research. Fulfilling these commitments will require hard work, dedication and resources, including funding independent research to test new technologies and sharing the results as these approaches are proven.”

Reducing water use

Of this year’s projects, ten focus on water with an investment of $678,000. Since 1982, California almond farmers have reportedly committed $8.1 mn dollars to 221 different water research projects spanning irrigation efficiency, groundwater recharge and water quality. Together, this investment has helped reduce the amount of water needed to grow each pound of almonds by 33 percent over the past 20 years.1 By 2025, the California almond community has committed to reducing the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20 percent.

Progress towards this goal is reportedly being measured against almond farmers’ annual irrigation water applied per unit of crop yield. While 77 percent of almond farms are said to utilise efficient microirrigation,2 nearly double the 42 percent average for California farms, further improvements are underway. ABC is allegedly working with farmers to support their progress up the Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, a roadmap created by irrigation experts that outlines key irrigation management practices and how to achieve increasing levels of precision in each area.

Achieving zero waste

Almonds grow in a shell, protected by a hull, on a tree, and the California almond community allegedly ensures that each of these co-products is put to beneficial use. Since 1977, ABC has funded 79 research projects totalling $3.5 mn exploring the best ways to utilise these materials, establishing traditional uses such as dairy feed, livestock bedding, and electricity generation. By 2025, the California almond community has committed to achieving zero waste in orchards by putting everything grown to optimal use.

Additional opportunities for innovation

In addition to water sustainability and co-product utilisation, investing in research has also allegedly resulted in significant advancements in the areas of nutrient management, air quality and honeybee health. ABC has funded research related to honeybee health, with 125 projects funded to date. In 2019, California almond farmers have added to that investment with five new research projects totalling $336,000.

ABC research projects are funded through an assessment placed on each pound of almonds grown in California. After review by third-party research advisers and work groups focused on distinct almond farming topics, projects are selected by a committee of almond farmers and processors based on strategic alignment to industry needs and anticipated impact of the research.

References

  1. University of California, Feb. 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, 2012. Almond Board of California, 1990-94, 2000-14.
  2. California Almond Sustainability Program. August 2019.

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