Dec 09, 2015

Almond Industry Launches Strategic Effort to Improve Water Efficiency

The effort also includes initiatives related to air quality and agricultural practices

Almond Board of California water efficiency irrigation conservation drought

Almond Board of California (ABC) launched Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM), a new strategic effort designed to make the almond industry more efficient and sustainable.

"Through our Accelerated Innovation Management program, the Almond Board will accelerate its investment in sustainability, almond tree and farming research, and step up efforts to develop new partnerships and collaborations, which will drive four major initiatives to move the entire industry forward," said Richard Waycott, president and CEO of ABC.

The four major initiatives are:

  • Water Management and Efficiency: A focus on accelerating almond farmer transition to more efficient irrigation scheduling and management practices to get the most crop per drop of water. This initiative, which builds on the 33% reduction in water used per pound of almonds achieved by the industry over the last 20 years, includes a range of activities from working with farmers to fine tune irrigation techniques to adopting more advanced water management technologies.
  • Sustainable Water Resources: An exploration of how to best leverage a strength of the California almond industry, its acreage, for accelerating natural flood-year groundwater recharge of aquifers. California's aquifers are collectively the state's largest water storage system and water recharged through this program would benefit all Californians, not just farmers. A second part of this initiative will look for opportunities to recycle water from multiple sources, such as municipal wastewater, as a way of increasing overall water availability for farmers and all Californians.
  • Air Quality: Investigating various ways the almond industry can help meet the Central Valley's exacting air quality standards. This will delve into the various ways almond production impacts air quality and evaluate opportunities to decrease emissions. From analyzing industry fossil fuel use to small- and large-particle pollutants, all components of almond farming that impact air quality are under scrutiny. This initiative will identify alternatives that will result in cleaner air for all those who live in California's Central Valley—farmers, their families and surrounding communities.
  • 22nd Century Agronomics: A recognition that we need to better understand and then adopt the technologies that will lead California farming into the 22nd century. ABC will lead a comprehensive exploration of almond farming techniques, bringing an exploratory mindset to consider all options as to what innovations and technical "leap frogs" will be needed to sustainably farm in the future. Each component of almond farming will be considered, from land preparation and varietal development, to equipment and processing.

Waycott noted significant progress already on two of the initiatives—Sustainable Water Resources and Air Quality—and said that the industry will keep consumers and customers apprised of major research projects in these and the other initiative areas in the months and years ahead.