Fine-Tuning Nitrogen

Under the new Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, California growers will soon be required to develop a nutrient management plan to reduce the potential for nitrogen to leach into the groundwater. While this will mean significant changes in the way some growers apply nitrogen fertilizers, results so far from the California Almond Sustainability Program tell us that almond growers are well on their way to compliance:

  • About two-thirds of almond orchards assessed are irrigated with highly efficient microsprinklers or drip systems.
  • In 89% of the orchards assessed annually, leaf samples are used for nutrient testing.
  • In 81% of the orchards assessed, fertilizer rates are calculated based on yield estimates.

These three practices together not only save money and increase yields, but also help minimize environmental impact on groundwater quality. And now, years of research funded by the Almond Board are helping to provide new management protocols to help growers fine-tune nutrient management programs to meet the new requirements.

The keys to the new nitrogen management protocols for almonds include new methods for leaf sampling and analysis, and protocols for taking into account nitrogen that is already in the system.

I urge you to read these protocols and use the information to upgrade your nitrogen management program as necessary. This will save you money and set you on the path to comply with the new regulations when they are announced.

Joe MacIlvaine, Chair
Production Research Committee