Almond growers conduct environmental show and tell for regulators

05/14/2012 11:40:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

”By tying all three together, we’re able to dial this in and hit it right,” he says.

Burden also discussed how he spoon feeds the trees nitrogen through the irrigation, improving overall nutrient efficiency while reducing the changes for leaching into the groundwater or runoff into nearby waterways.

In addition, he talked about using cultural practices to control navel orangeworm, showed off a settling pond system that improves water quality and protects Dry Creek down stream, and talked about transitioning to brush chipping from open-field burning.

Burden is one of 405 growers sok far who have participated in the almond board’s sustainability program that involves self-assessments, says Gabrielle Ludwig, associate director, environmental affairs.

The almond program, started in 2009, is patterned loosely after the highly successful California Sustainable Winegrowing Program.

So far, the almond board has released five modules—irrigation management, nutrient management, energy efficiency, air quality and pest management.

The almond board has conducted a number of workshops through the state to help growers complete one or more of the modules, Luldwig says.

The assessments recently were posted online, so growers can complete them at their convenience.

Although many growers already have adopted practices considered sustainable, the program allows them to document it, she says.

”It’s an industrywide initiative that’s transparent about what the industry is doing,” says Joe Browde, professional services manager, Sure Harvest, Soquel, Calif.

The data is collected by SureHarvest and presented in such a way that individual growers remain anonymous.

Industry leaders also can look at the results and determine where to target educational industry outreach programs, Ludwig says.

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