At last week’s, annual Almond Conference, Almond Board of California announced a new program aimed at accelerating innovative farming practices and propelling the industry forward.
When asked about the new program, Almond Board President and CEO Richard Waycott said, “We are taking a pledge to accelerate change. This journey will not only lead our industry, but all of agriculture.”
Accelerated Innovation Management or AIM, is a new strategic effort designed to make the almond industry even more efficient and sustainable1 through the four major initiatives described below.
- Water Management and Efficiency: This focuses on speeding up almond industry transition to more efficient irrigation scheduling and management practices to get the most crop per drop of water. This builds on the 33% reduction in water used to grow each pound of almonds achieved by our industry over the last 20 years2.
- Sustainable Water Resources: An exploration of the best ways to leverage a unique strength of the California Almond industry -- its acreage -- to accelerate natural flood-year recharge of groundwater aquifers that are collectively California’s largest water storage system. This initiative will also 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: Investigatingthe various ways the almond industry can help meet the California Central Valley’s exacting air quality standards. 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: This initiative is a comprehensive exploration of almond farming techniques, bringing an exploratory mindset that considers all options and innovations necessary to “leap frog” toward the sustainable farmof the future. It will consider each component of almond farming, from land preparation and varietal development, to equipment and processing.
If these four initiatives sound bold, if they sound ambitious and challenging, then good -- they’ve been described accurately. The bar has been deliberately set high.
Farmers are the original innovators. Since the first almond plantings in California more than 150 years ago, almond growers have adapted and changed to improve best practices and develop new technologies. Backed by 40 years of Almond Board-funded research, the industry has a proven track record of continuous improvement. AIM builds on that history.
Announcement of the AIM program established the tone for the 2015 Almond Conference, which was one of determined innovation and leadership. Of the nearly 50 workshops and symposia held at the conference, many covered components of this new major strategic effort. Stay tuned for progress and updates.
1California Almond Sustainability Program definition: Sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product. - See more at: http://www.almonds.com/blog/about-almond-board/almond-orchard-experience...
2University of California. UC Drought Management. Feb. 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 66 – Crop yield in response to water. 2012. Almond Board of California. Almond Almanac 1990-94, 2000-14.