Harvest Equipment Innovations Driving Dust Reduction

Posted November 8th, 2017

During this year’s harvest, Almond Board of California (ABC) hosted a side-by-side demonstration of innovative low-dust almond harvesting equipment. 

Almond harvest involves a three-step process: shaking the nuts off the tree and onto the ground where they dry for several days, sweeping the almonds into rows, and picking them up off the ground to be transported to a local processing facility. 

Because almonds are harvested onto the ground, the process naturally creates dust. ABC and the California Almond community have been working to address this nuisance through research, science-based best practices, incentives, and educational events like the recent demonstrations held at Van Duyn Family Farms in Escalon and Holtermann Farms in Wasco. 

Nearly 200 almond farmers took a break from their own busy harvests to see low-dust harvesting equipment in action. All almond harvester equipment manufacturers participated in the events, including Exact Harvesting Systems of Modesto, Flory Industries of Salida, Weiss McNair of Chico, and Jackrabbit of Ripon. 

“These demonstrations were a great opportunity to view the performance of harvesting equipment in the orchard and allowed farmers to get a first-hand view of each machine’s effectiveness,” explained Dr. Gabriele Ludwig, director for sustainability and environmental affairs at Almond Board of California.

A decade of research, funded by ABC and its partnerships with equipment manufacturers and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), has resulted in methods, resources, and incentives to help improve local air quality at harvest and to keep dust away from neighbors.

“As a result of our greater understanding about how dust is generated at almond harvest, many equipment manufacturers have made changes to sweepers and pickup machines to reduce dust emissions,” Ludwig said. “These demonstrations are another example of the commitment Almond Board has made to working with the industry to reduce dust at harvest.”

For farmers working with existing harvest equipment, ABC offers practical tips shown to substantively decrease dust. These include fine-tuning and adjusting equipment to match orchard conditions and reducing speed or strategically planning the equipment’s path up and down orchard rows. Visit almonds.com/harvestdust to see comprehensive how-to guides and training videos.