How We Grow

2019 May/June How We Grow

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2 2 FROM LEADERSHIP Martin Pohl Chair, Technical and Regulatory Affairs Committee Almond Board of California 2 As a young boy, my first experience in the almond industry involved helping my father drag a canvas along a row of trees and using a piece of rusty pipe to knock almonds to the ground. Even at a young age I knew there were efficiencies to be made, and I remember telling my father, "There has to be a better way." As I grew older and almond plantings and acreage increased, the need for optimal methods of harvesting became more and more necessary. The almond industry rose to the challenge of creating such methods as we invented shakers, sweepers and harvesters that provided that "better way" that allowed us to cover more ground in less time, saving time and money and allowing us to produce more of this crop to feed the world. These innovations, along with many others, have propelled us to become the highly advanced industry that we operate in today. However, in order to continue farming this crop that we love, we must continue innovating and finding ways to produce a healthy, sustainable product not only for today's world, but for that of our children and grandchildren. To me, this means we must take seriously the Almond Board of California's (ABC) four Almond Orchard 2025 Goals, which include reducing dust during harvest by 50% and increasing adoption of environmentally friendly pest management tools by 25%. And while I think our industry continues to excel in being one step ahead in the innovative space, we cannot forget that our customers and our neighbors are looking to us to be leaders in sustainable agriculture; we should not take this charge lightly. Research: A guiding light in continuous improvements Dust control during harvest is a key area where research has helped us improve our practices throughout the years. Equipment manufacturers are constantly developing and incorporating new dust mitigation methods into their products. Hullers/ shellers and processors are also developing dust control measures that not only provide cleaner air for our neighbors, but also improve working conditions for employees. In fact, their efforts to reduce dust have driven them to make other cost-effective improvements that allow for almonds to be processed more sustainably. For example, some hullers/shellers discovered they were using more electricity for dust control than they were for the actual hulling and shelling of the crop, a reality that drove them to install solar panels to provide for at least a portion of their electrical needs. Water usage is also a major consideration for not only the almond industry but the broader agricultural community, as well. Currently, the almond industry is looking to improve application methods to meet the exact needs of our trees. Underground irrigation technology is also being developed and improved upon in experimental orchards, and various methods of water storage are being considered at the government level not only for irrigation purposes, but to provide clean drinking water for the people of our state. As responsible members of the larger ag community, we as the almond industry must also continue seeking to do all we can to preserve honey bee health. Even with the development of newer varieties that may require fewer bees per acre, a healthy almond crop still requires honey bees — healthy honey bees, at that. We also must remember that honey bees are vital not only for almonds but for other crops, as well. Research is currently underway to learn how the use of cover crops in and around almond orchards may supplement not only honey bee health, but also benefit the overall health of the almond crop. As a handler and therefore marketer of our crop, my colleagues and I are constantly being questioned by our customers about sustainability 1 in almonds — buyers want to know if our growers are using sustainable farming practices. It is imperative that we are able to give our buyers a "yes" answer, that we are able to explain what we are doing and the successes we are building on regarding our history of responsible farming. Leadership key at every level For the past six years, I have had the pleasure of being a mentor in ABC's Almond Leadership Program, and each year I am overwhelmingly impressed with the insight and talent

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