California Almond Board to Fund New Efficiency Projects

almondboardNew water and pollination projects from the Almond Board of California will aim for maximum efficiency. The projects will cost around $2.5 million dollars, and would make more progress in California’s efforts in trying to optimize farming practices.

“Growers use 33 percent less water to grow a pound of almonds than they did two decades ago,” said Almond Board CEO Richard Waycott while announcing the new research efforts.

Though that number is a great reduction in water, producers are still being criticized for how much water they use, and some believe there is still water being wasted. Waycott says that their research will help out for their next steps in innovation, and will allow them to continue growing a healthy crop while being responsible about their water usage.

In addition to the water projects, nine projects will also focus on the health of the bee population in order to improve pollination. Honey bees are essential to the growth of almonds, among many other crops in California. In the past two decades, no organization has invested in honey bee health more than the Almond Board.

The research done for those projects will focus specifically on pests, disease, pesticides, and the honey bees’ genetic diversity. They will also research different ways to grow almonds, which would reduce the dependence on pollination by bees.

The projects, though they are funded by the Almond Board, will be conducted by third-party researchers such as the University of California and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There will also be aspects of the research undertaken at various universities nationwide. In total, there are 56 projects being funded.

On top of the nine pollination projects, there are 13 approved water projects. The Almond Board has funded 91 irrigation research projects since 1982, and this new research will build on what they have already achieved in savings. This will mainly occur through shifts by growers from flood irrigation to drip and micro-sprinklers.

The board will also continue its support of the California Almond Sustainability Program, which teaches growers cost-effective and environmentally and socially responsible practices. The education programs can show them where they can improve on their land, and lead to even more progress. It will cover “irrigation management, nutrient management, air quality, water quality, energy efficiency, the ecosystem, financial management and pest management.”

The projects are indicative of a nationwide shift to more efficient and environmentally friendly society. Systems like cooling towers allow even industrial businesses and factories recycle up to 98% of wasted water, which reduces both water and energy use. New solar and wind energy projects throughout the midwest also support these ideals.

Since the 70s, the Almond Board has funded 271 projects, totalling $20.3 million. Its nutrition research alone has totalled $18.3 million for 80 projects since 1995, and environmental research has cost $4.7 million on 37 projects since 2003. Almond quality and food safety research spending for 79 projects has totaled $5.9 million since 2001.

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