Revealed at the 46th annual Almond Conference, the research programs supported provide a scientific basis for best practices across several priority areas, including water sustainability, pollinator health and finding new uses for almond co-products, including hulls, shells and woody material.
“Innovation is at the core of sustainable almond farming. Driven by family farmers, the almond community is committed to continuous improvement, ensuring a better environment and future for our children and grandchildren, neighbors and employees,” said ABC president and chief executive, Richard Waycott.
‘Minimising environmental impacts’
“Since 1973 almond farmers and processors have invested $80 million [£62.8m] in research through the Almond Board to improve our understanding of almonds’ impact on human health, ensure food quality and safety, and improve farming practices while minimising environmental impacts.”
Almond Board research projects are funded through an assessment paid per pound of almonds produced. After a review by research advisors 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.
Co-products was a focus for this year’s round of funding, with the ABC supporting nine co-products-focused research projects totalling $1.2m (£942,738) with applications spanning from in-orchard utilisation to value-added uses.
‘Nothing goes to waste
“We enjoy working with the almond community because their goals align with ours. The Almond Board is investing in research so nothing goes to waste, with the goal of a neutral footprint,” said Lydia Palma, researcher and PhD student at University of California, Davis. “Our research partnership focuses on developing new technologies to convert almond co-products into valuable products.”
Water and honey bee-focused research projects funded by ABC this year include $610,000 (£479,225) to nine water projects and $579,000 (£454,871) to seven honey bee health projects. This builds upon more than 200 water research projects funded since 1982, helping farmers reduce the water needed to grow a pound of almonds by 33% over the past 20 years.