Sustainable Growing Overview

A vital, healthy almond industry is dependent on using management practices best adapted to the local conditions to sustain production and growth for the next generation of growers. Growing trees requires a longer-term vision, and sustainable farming practices have long been used by California’s almond growers, or the industry would not have thrived as it has for multiple generations.

California Almond Sustainability Program

The California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) follows a natural progression of some 40 years of research efforts by the Almond Board of California (ABC) to help almond growers be good stewards of the land. The ABC research program was initiated to develop tools for growers to reduce populations of and resulting damage from their primary insect pest: navel orangeworm. An integrated pest management program evolved from the research; as a result, navel orangeworm damage was reduced significantly. The successful implementation by growers relied on grower education.

The California Almond Sustainability Program is based on knowledge gained from research and experience. It uses a self-assessment process to document almond growers’ and handlers’ thoughtfulness and achievements in adopting cost-effective, environmentally and socially responsible practices. The modules have been designed by peer growers and handlers, university experts and other authorities, covering irrigation management, nutrient management, air quality, water quality, energy efficiency, ecosystem, financial management and pest management. Participation is voluntary; assessment information is maintained in a database and individual responses are confidential.

The program provides additional value to participating growers and handlers through personalized sustainability reports, enabling them to compare their practices to those of their peers. Moreover, a grower- and handler-friendly online assessment and reporting system is available, which makes providing feedback easier.

Watch this brief video for an introduction to the California Almond Sustainability Program.

Getting Involved

CASP Self-Assessments

The Almond Sustainability Program is dependent on voluntary participation.  Growers who participate help the industry by providing the data to educate buyers and regulators and the public that almond growers and handlers are good stewards of the land and are considerate of neighbors and the consuming public. At the same time, it is an opportunity for a grower to reflect on the management of his or her operation.

By participating in this process, growers and handlers will be equipped to respond to the increasing focus of major almond buyers and regulators on the issue of sustainability. As a result, the Almond Board of California will be able to communicate sustainable almond farming in terms of practices that make practical and economic sense for our crop, geography and community.

To participate, growers can either complete the self-assessment online or take part in a workshop.

The results from these assessments, which are recorded collectively, are guiding research, education and outreach in the almond community and help to identify opportunities for additional improvement.

Currently available Almond Sustainability modules and modules under development are:

CASP Workshops

Growers and handlers may fill out assessments in person at a workshop or choose the online version of the program.

These workshops are held in all almond-growing regions of the state at convenient locations such as county offices, nurseries and other industry suppliers, and handlers. To host a workshop, please contact Jenny Nicolau at the Almond Board.

Sustainability Program Online

Through the online system, you can now:

  • Complete modules at your convenience in the privacy of your home or office.
  • Apply for one continuing education unit (CEU) from California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) by completing the Pest Management module.
  • Access your personal grower report to compare your growing practices to state averages of other growers who have filled out assessments.
  • Automatically fill in fields for new orchards that are managed similarly to those orchards that you have assessed in the past.
  • Complete the Nitrogen Modeling Calculator to identify and maximize the use efficiency of nitrogen in the orchard.

The various modules ask growers questions concerning their current practices as compared to a set of “best practices” identified by a committee of almond growers and other experts. All individual grower comments and responses are confidential. 

As growers fill out modules, at the same time they will be presented with related educational information on alternative practices that could increase their efficiency and/or decrease their environmental footprint, improving their bottom line and meeting environmental regulations.

Cycle of Continuous Improvement

As each module is completed and submitted, a report is generated and returned to the participant with the results of the self-assessment, a comparison of that grower’s performance with other participants as a percentage, and suggestions for improvement. Reports are strictly confidential and are shared only with the participant who filled out the module.