New Way to Report Sustainability Gaining Favor

January 1, 2013

Chuck Dirkse, of La Mancha Orchards in Denair, fills out the Air Quality and Nutrient Management modules of the California Almond Sustainability Program at the Almond Board offices.With the introduction of an online version of the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP), growers are finding that filling out the information from their home or office computer is faster, easier and more convenient than attending a workshop. Plus, reports are available immediately and remain accessible online anytime a grower wishes to review the data, which includes a comparison between the grower’s information and a compilation of data from all other growers who have completed the module.

Recently, Chuck Dirkse, a grower from Denair, came to the Almond Board offices to get a preview of the online system from CASP program coordinator Kendall Barton. Dirkse attended a workshop back in 2010 and filled out the Irrigation Management module, but has had difficulty finding the time to attend another workshop to fill out more modules.

“The online site isn’t complicated, which is good,” was his initial reaction. “I like being able to do it in my office because I have all of my records there.”

Does he miss attending workshops, which also offer updates on technologies that help growers become more effective or efficient? “I learn something every time I attend an event,” Dirkse says. “But the questions in the workbooks opened me up to new ideas. I was constantly thinking, ‘I didn’t know you could do that.’ And I learned from seeing some of the things that others are doing in the comparison report.”

Since filling out the sustainability workbooks, he says he hasn’t changed any practices, but has become more careful in performing them. “I am fine-tuning the way I am doing things,” says Dirkse.

“I like having My Assessments available online,” adds Dirkse. “Even the data I filled in at a workshop is there for me to access. And for any workbooks you fill out online, the data is available immediately, rather than having to wait for a report in the mail."

While in the ABC offices, Dirkse filled out both the Air Quality and Nutrient Management modules in about 20 minutes.

In doing so, he discovered the auto-fill function of the online version. “I like that you can ‘clone’ or copy data into a blank form for a new block,” he says, “then tweak the information for the block you are working on now. It’s a real time saver.” Online, growers can:

  • Add more orchard blocks;
  • Complete new modules (there are five); and
  • Reassess orchards in successive years, using the clone feature.

“CASP is a smart thing for us to do as an industry,” Dirkse says. “The world needs to know that almond growers are proactive in solving problems.”

Oh, and qualified applicators and PCAs can get one hour of CEUs when filling out the Pest Management module, according to ABC’s Barton. Another reason to turn on the computer to complete an assessment.

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