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Key Ag Tech Trends Focus of Upcoming How We Grow Series

10/1/2021

Drones from T-Rex

Given the demands on their time and responsibilities to produce a healthy, sustainable and profitable crop year after year, some almond growers may not always feel connected with or even aware of some of the cutting-edge research being conducted in the industry. 

As a major investor in important projects that have the potential to shape the almond industry for decades to come, the Almond Board of California (ABC) has a keen interest in sharing and explaining what some of the world’s most respected researchers, scientists and experts are doing on behalf of growers, processors and, in some cases, even consumers. 

Beginning with the November/December issue of How We Grow magazine, the Almond Board will publish a series of stories highlighting some of the budding technologies that are being developed both with and without ABC support. 

The series is the brainchild of Sebastian Saa, Associate Director of Agricultural Research for ABC. He began working at the Almond Board in 2017 and has had a front-row seat as many key projects have evolved from experiments in test orchards to adoption across the industry.  

“Technology moves very fast and is often a key ingredient for innovation and adoption of industry best practices,” Saa explained. “We have seen ag move from horses to tractors, from manual shaking to mechanical harvest, from flood irrigation to pressurized irrigation systems. So, with this series, we seek to provide an update around this innovation continuum.” 

The topics reflect some of the most pressing and important issues in the industry. 

  • Irrigation management. This subject will be the focus of two parts of the series. In the November/December issue of How We Grow, readers will learn more about how the T-Rex project, which is attempting to even more effectively measure evapotranspiration in almond trees. In the January/February issue, the use of sensors to help identify when and where to irrigate will be explored, as well as the differences in irrigation needs by varietal. 
  • Autonomous equipment, scouting and pest management technology. The March/April edition of How We Grow will focus on new ways to approach pest control via mating disruption, weed management and spot spraying, and biological models and tools that are being evaluated.  
  • Precise horticultural management. The May/June issue of How We Grow will feature a story on soil preparation and mapping, yield prediction, and tree and weather phenology models. 
  • The ag tech ecosystem and return on investment. The final part of the series next summer will try to answer the question, “How do we keep precision simple, actionable and friendly?” There will be interviews with growers sharing real examples from their orchards. 

Saa hopes the series will give growers confidence that there are tangible, cost-effective and beneficial ideas being developed around the industry that may help them improve their farming practices and outcomes. 

“There is a lot of technology outside, some of which we are evaluating and some that are separate from what the Almond Board is looking at. We want to let growers know about potential technologies that ABC sees as emerging precision agriculture,” Saa said. 

Each issue of How We Grow is printed but also is available in a digital version that can be viewed here at the arrow link. The upcoming series also will be posted on the Almond Board website under “Industry News.”