Congratulations to Our Research Partners and USDA Award Winners

Posted November 11th, 2014 by Bob Curtis

Research is the foundation of the Almond Board of California’s sustainable farming program. Almond growers by nature are data-driven, adapting their production operations based on what they learn from research. The success of our industry lies in this approach. But we wouldn’t be able to do it without the dedication of researchers across the California public university system, which is why we are so excited to congratulate four of our partners at UC-Davis who have received national recognition for their water conservation work.

Professors Patrick Brown, Jan Hopmans and Ken Shackel, as well as recently retired Cooperative Extension Specialist Larry Schwankl, were among a team of scientists awarded the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s 2014 Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award. The award recognized “exceptional collaboration on a multistate research project that helps farmers better use micro-irrigation systems to sustainably* irrigate their land, especially during droughts and water shortages.”

The award is hard earned and well deserved. We thank these scientists for the breakthroughs they have made in advancing micro irrigation in concert with state-of the art irrigation scheduling that determines the timing of the right amounts of water to apply.  This advanced and comprehensive approach has been a key factor in helping almond growers make notable strides in water use efficiency over the last 20 years and it now takes 33 percent less water** to produce a pound of almonds.  A key contributor for this improvement is the 79 irrigation projects the Almond Board has funded during this time.

Today more than 70 percent of almond orchards surveyed under the Almond Board’s California Almond Sustainability Program report using localized micro irrigation systems to conserve water, and 83 percent report using demand-based irrigation, monitoring weather, soil moisture and the trees needs to determine when and how much to irrigate, rather than watering on a pre-determined schedule.

The Almond Board’s commitment to research continues to expand, with more than $2.5 million invested this year alone. In addition to ongoing research to help growers make responsible irrigation decisions, the Board continues to focus on identifying drought-resistant rootstock and tree varieties.

Congratulations again, Patrick, Jan, Ken and Larry. We’re thrilled to continue our work together for years to come.


*For the Almond Board of California, sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product. 
Historical evapotranspiration rates from 1990 – 1994 UC Davis Drought Management - Historical Almond ET, see:
Evapotranspiration rates from 2010 – 2014 updated to new almond crop coefficients: Goldhamer, David. 2012. Almond in Crop Yield Response to Water. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper No. 66, P. Steduto, T.C. Hsiao,