How We Grow

2019 July/Aug How We Grow

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3 A L M O N D O R C H A R D 2 0 2 5 G O A L S ZERO WASTE Huller/Sheller Says Keep Your Coproducts Clean Dave Phippen's grandchildren love clambering up and down the giant piles of almond hulls and shells that sit behind the huller/sheller facility he owns and operates with his partners, Scott Phippen, Bud Travaille, Nick Gatzman and Grant Van Duyn. But for all the fun memories his grandkids have climbing in the coproducts, someone else loves those almond hulls and shells even more — dairy cattle. "We shelled approximately 25 million pounds of kernels last season and have a lot of coproduct to move," Phippen said. "We have great customers for our hulls and shells in the dairy industry, so we won't have a problem moving them." Still, Phippen sees great opportunity to create a more competitive market for almond coproducts, one that will not only benefit other industries but also allow for the increased value of hulls, shells and woody biomass. As a long-time member of various Almond Board of California (ABC) committees and ABC's 2016 Almond Achievement Award Winner, Phippen has firsthand knowledge of investments the industry has made to find optimal uses for almond coproducts. In his role as an ABC board member, he also played a key role in helping establish the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals, which include achieving zero waste in California almond orchards by the year 2025. ABC is working to support the almond industry in its efforts to achieve this 2025 Goal by investing in research to uncover higher value uses for hulls, shells and woody biomass, including biochar, biofuels, bio-based plastics and more. In regard to bio- based plastics, Phippen noted that at present shells still yield a fairly "low value," so he is particularly interested to see how almond shells may be incorporated in those bio-products. "In place of wooden pallets, we've started using slip sheets made from recycled plastics and torrefied almond shells in our storage facilities," Phippen said. "There's tremendous opportunity for this technology to be used in other plastic manufacturing applications." Clean product = higher returns, and necessary for research Hullers and shellers by the very nature of their business manage the largest volume of almond coproducts. And yet the quality of said coproducts is determined by growers, who have a responsibility to manage the harvest process in a way that keeps the hulls and shells, in particular, clean and free from mixing with dirt clods and rocks so that they may be put to use and provide value down the road. Ultimately, hullers/shellers cannot sell hulls for dairy feed, and researchers cannot conduct projects to find higher value uses for coproducts, if either party receives a low-quality product. Continued on Page 4 Creating stronger demand for almond coproducts, like sticks, hulls and shells, will help add value to the overall almond industry. "Keep your orchard floor clean – treat it like your own backyard." – Dave Phippen

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