The Almond Board of California (ABC) announced a $2.5 million dollar commitment to independent, third-party research into next-generation farming practices. The funding is part of an ongoing effort by the almond community to develop innovative production practices that lead to continued improvement in efficient and sustainable1 farming.
The funding approval follows a natural progression of research efforts by the Almond Board that enable almond growers be good stewards of the land. In the last two decades, industry-funded research overseen by ABC allowed farmers to reduce the amount of water they use per pound of almonds by 33 percent2. It has also helped develop orchard practices that better promote healthy environments for honey bees.
"We've made great strides in building a sustainable industry over the past 40 years," said Almond Board CEO Richard Waycott. "Because of the industry's commitment to research and efficiency, growers use 33% less water to grow a pound of almonds than they did two decades ago. Today's investment will fuel the next round of innovation to ensure we continue to grow healthy, nutritious food while improving water efficiency and continuing to protect our pollination partners."
Among the 56 projects that were approved for funding are:
- Thirteen water projects. Since 1982, ABC has funded 91 irrigation research projects. That research has led to improvements in farming practices including advanced irrigation systems and irrigation decision support tools, among others.
- Nine honey bee health projects. Since 1995, ABC has invested more than any other crop on research related to honey bee health. This includes researching solutions to Varroa mite and other honey bee pest and disease management, nutrition and honey bee forage, lack of honey bee genetic diversity, impact of pesticides, and technical assistance for beekeepers.
- Continued support for the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP). This self-assessment and education program documents almond growers' and handlers' achievements in adopting cost-effective, environmentally and socially responsible practices and highlights where opportunities for improvement exist. Topics covered by the program include irrigation management, nutrient management, air quality, water quality, energy efficiency, ecosystem, financial management and pest management. Additionally, the program is currently developing and deploying innovative grower decision support tools which are designed by peer growers and handlers, and university experts. Since its inception in 2009, there have been more than 1,380 participants in the CASP program who have assessed their current practices, representing more than 375,000 acres.
- Research into other issues like air quality, pest and disease management.
The projects were selected from over 70 proposals by a research advisory committee of independent experts who assess the proposals for scientific merit and two committees of almond growers and processors. The volunteer committee members evaluate the proposals for strategic alignment to industry needs and anticipated impact of the research. The research is funded through an assessment paid on each pound of almonds produced.