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Almond Board Fueling Farm of the Future with $5.9 Million Research Investment

(MODESTO, Calif.) – The Almond Board of California (ABC) today announced an investment of $5.9 million dollars in 85 independent research projects exploring next-generation farming practices. With this commitment, the California almond community has invested $89 million in research since 1973 to build a foundation of knowledge on responsible farming practices, food quality and safety and almonds’ impact on human health.  A tangible example of the almond community’s commitment to continuous improvement, the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals, launched in January 2019, will leverage this research as farmers strive to meet measurable objectives with the goal of growing almonds in better, safer and healthier ways. The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals Roadmap, released today, outlines the almond community’s sustainability journey in four goal areas, as well as the metrics that the industry’s progress will be measured against. “The California almond community takes a long-term view of success based on respect for the land and local communities. Earlier this year, the California almond community set four ambitious goals aligning with our vision to make life better by what we grow and how we grow,” says Holly King, chair of the Almond Board of California. “The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals build on decades of progress, fueled by research. Fulfilling these commitments will require hard work, dedication and resources, including funding independent research to test new technologies and sharing the results as these approaches are proven.” Further Reducing the Water Used to Grow Almonds Of this year’s projects, ten focus on water with an investment of $678,000. Since 1982, California almond farmers have committed $8.1 million dollars to 221 different water research projects spanning irrigation efficiency, groundwater recharge and water quality. Together this investment has helped reduce the amount of water needed to grow each pound of almonds by 33 percent over the past 20 years. [1] By 2025, the California almond community commits to reducing the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20 percent. Progress towards this goal is being measured against almond farmers’ annual irrigation water applied per unit of crop yield. While 77 percent of almond farms utilize efficient microirrigation,[2] nearly double the 42 percent average for California farms, further improvements are underway. ABC is working with farmers to support their progress up the Almond Irrigation Improvement Progress towards this goal is being measured against almond farmers’ annual irrigation water applied per unit of crop yield. While 77 percent of almond farms utilize efficient microirrigation,[1] nearly double the 42 percent average for California farms, further improvements are underway. ABC is working with farmers to support their progress up the Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, a roadmap created by irrigation experts that outlines key irrigation management practices and how to achieve increasing levels of precision in each area. Achieving Zero Waste by Using Everything the Orchard Grows Almonds grow in a shell, protected by a hull, on a tree, and the California almond community ensures that each of these coproducts is put to beneficial use. Since 1977, ABC has funded 79 research projects totaling $3.5 million exploring the best ways to utilize these materials, establishing traditional uses such as dairy feed, livestock bedding, and electricity generation. Thirteen new studies have been funded this year with a commitment of $607,000 dollars to determine how almond coproducts may address needs in other sectors, with promising leads in strengthening recycled plastics, creating biofuel and more. By 2025, the California almond community commits to achieving zero waste in orchards by putting everything grown to optimal use. Given that almond coproducts are widely utilized already, progress toward this goal focuses on reducing the industry’s environmental footprint and adding value – economically and environmentally – via three key measures. These include: 1) significant increases in recycling trees into the soil when an orchard is removed, using the trees’ woody biomass to build healthier soils and address climate change via increased carbon sequestration, 2) diversifying applications for hulls and shells beyond current uses in the California dairy industry and 3) the effective elimination of open burning as a means to dispose of woody biomass. Additional Opportunities for Innovation In addition to water sustainability and coproduct utilization, investing in research has also resulted in significant advancements in the areas of nutrient management, air quality and honey bee health. For example, farmers work closely with beekeepers and follow research-based best practices to ensure the safety of honey bees, essential to pollinating almonds. ABC has funded more research related to honey bee health than any other crop group,[3] with 125 projects funded to date. This year, California almond farmers have added to that investment with five new research projects totaling $336,000.  “I often think of us as surfers,” said ABC chair, Holly King. “Surfers are strategic about where to catch a wave, and we’ve done that over the years with our research investments, catching the wave that will bring the greatest return. Today’s investment will not only help farmers grow almonds more efficiently, but also ensures we’re solidly riding the wave to a more sustainable farm of the future.” ABC research projects are funded through an assessment placed on each pound of almonds grown in California. After review by third-party research advisors and workgroups focused on distinct almond farming topics, projects are selected by a committee of almond farmers and processors based on strategic alignment to industry needs and anticipated impact of the research. For more information about ABC’s 46 years of almond farming and environmental research, and to explore how this research supports the California almond community in growing the farm of the future, visit Almonds.com/GrowingGood.   [1] University of California, Feb. 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, 2012. Almond Board of California, 1990-94, 2000-14. [2] California Almond Sustainability Program. August 2019. [3] Gene Brandi. Vice President, American Beekeeping Foundation.
Research Funding
News Article
// About the Almond Board, About the Almond Industry, About the Farmers

Beauty from the Inside Out: Pilot Study Investigates the Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Facial Wrinkles

Anti-aging regimens abound but emerging research suggests that one delicious addition to your skincare routine may be in your pantry instead of your makeup kit: almonds. A new pilot study by researchers at the University of California - Davis (USA)[1] found that a daily snack of almonds in place of other nut-free snacks improved measures of wrinkle width and severity in postmenopausal women. The study was funded by the Almond Board of California and is the first of its kind to examine almonds’ effects on skin health. A larger and longer-term follow-up study is underway. In this 16-week randomised controlled trial, 28 healthy postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 or 2 (characterised by increased tendency to burn with sun exposure) were randomly assigned to one of two groups. In the intervention group, women ate almonds as a snack, which accounted for 20% of their total daily calorie intake, or 340 calories per day on average (about 2 30-gram servings). The control group ate a nut-free snack that also accounted for 20% of calories: a cereal bar, granola bar or pretzels. Aside from these snacks, study participants ate their regular diets and did not eat any nuts or nut-containing products. Skin assessments were made at the start of the study, and again at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. At each visit, facial wrinkles were assessed using high-resolution facial imaging and validated 3-D facial modeling and measurement. “These high-resolution cameras allow for 3-D reconstruction of any wrinkles so that they can be mapped for their key characteristics of width and severity. The severity score is a calculation of the depth and length of a wrinkle,” explains Raja Sivamani, MD MS AP, integrative dermatologist and lead researcher on the study. Skin barrier function was also assessed, by measuring sebum production and transepidermal water loss (TEWL).  Skin barrier function examines the strength of the skin barrier and how well it protects skin from moisture loss (TEWL) and from harmful irritants coming from the environment. By the end of the study at 16 weeks, photographic image analysis showed statistically significant improvements for participants in the almond snack group compared to the control group (P<0.02):  -Wrinkle width decreased by 10%        -Wrinkle severity decreased by 9%  There were no significant changes in skin barrier function between groups. “Food as a means of promoting skin health – the ‘health from the inside out’ idea – is of growing interest to those looking for options for healthy aging,” says Dr. Sivamani. “It’s also a growing area of scientific research. Almonds are a rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E and deliver essential fatty acids and polyphenols. They’re a smart choice for overall good nutrition. And, as seen in this study, almonds may hold promise as a food to include as part of a healthy aging diet, especially for post-menopausal women.” Leading Registered Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert comments: “This research is the first of its kind for any nut where we are seeing scientifically measured benefits on skin wrinkles from eating almonds. Almonds have long been thought to be good for our skin, but this is the first study to show them having a real impact! Moreover, almonds provide zinc, niacin and riboflavin – all nutrients that help maintain our skin.  A portion of almonds is 28 grams or 23 almonds.” Study at a Glance: The Study: 28 healthy, postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 (always burns, never tans) or 2 (usually burns, tans minimally) were randomly assigned to either an intervention or a control group. Almonds were provided as 20% of total daily calorie intake for the intervention group (340 calories/day on average), about 2 30-gram servings. The control group consumed a calorie-matched nut-free snack in place of almonds daily:  cereal bar, energy bar or pretzels. All participants were advised not to consume any nuts or nut-containing products over the course of the study (except for the almond snack for the intervention group). They otherwise were advised to continue their usual daily energy intake. After a four-week dietary wash-out period, participants were randomised to one of the two study groups detailed above. Study visits occurred at baseline, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. Facial wrinkles were assessed using high-resolution facial photography and validated 3D facial modeling and measurement at baseline, 8 weeks and 16 weeks. Skin barrier function was assessed by measurement of sebum production and transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Results: ·         Photographic image analysis showed that the almond group had significant reductions in wrinkle severity and width, by 9 and 10%, respectively, compared to the control group at the 16-week time point (P<0.02). ·         There were no significant differences in sebum production between groups after 8 and 16 weeks. ·         There were no significant differences between groups in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) from baseline after 8 and 16 weeks. ·         There were no significant changes from baseline in the skin barrier function (P=0.65) between the almond and control groups relative to baseline after 16 weeks.   Study Limitations: Aging is a long-lasting process so the findings from this 16-week study may be difficult to reproduce and generalise to extended periods of time. Skin-aging is also multi-factorial in nature and although certain groups were excluded (i.e., those with a smoking history), there is variance in aging confounders, such as frequency of UV light exposure and emotional stress, which were outside the scope of the study. This study was limited to cosmetic evaluation, as no measurements were made regarding collagen production. Study did not evaluate disease or younger subjects, so results are limited to otherwise healthy post-menopausal females. In addition, this was a pilot study with a limited number of participants. Future studies should expand to a larger recruitment pool.   Conclusion: Results of this pilot study suggest that daily consumption of almonds may play a role in reducing wrinkle severity in post-menopausal women. The outcomes warrant future studies with expanded population groups and additional evaluations for signs of skin aging.   [1] Foolad N, Vaughn AR, Rybak I, Burney WA, Chodur GM, Newman JW, Steinberg FM, Sivamani RK. Prospective randomized controlled pilot study on the effects of almond consumption on skin lipids and wrinkles. Phytotherapy Research. 2019;1–6. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6495
skin research study results
News Article
// Nutrition & Wellness

Focused on Growing Good, the California Almond Community Commits to New Goals

(MODESTO, Calif.) – Producing 80 percent of the world’s supply of almonds, California’s almond farmers and processors have always been about growing good—managing resources responsibly for current and future generations. Today, the almond community is publicly committing to four new goals that build on decades of previous achievements and further demonstrate the industry’s commitment to growing almonds in better, safer and healthier ways, while protecting local communities and the environment. The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals set industry-wide targets in the areas of water efficiency, zero waste, pest management and air quality.  “We’ve always been focused on minimizing our environmental footprint and being good neighbors—and we have the track record to prove it. But for the first time, we are publicly setting goals for how we will farm in the future and committing to transparently reporting on the progress we are making,” said Holly King, chair of the Almond Board of California. “There’s no doubt these goals will be challenging, but that’s a responsibility that comes with leadership and a commitment to innovation. We’re excited to be embarking on this journey.” The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals focus on four key areas: Further Reducing the Water Used to Grow Almonds Over the past two decades, California almond farmers have successfully reduced the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by 33 percent [1]  via improved production practices and adoption of efficient microirrigation technology. By 2025, the California almond community commits to reduce the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20 percent. Achieving Zero Waste in Our Orchards Almonds grow in a shell, protected by a hull, on a tree: products traditionally used for livestock bedding, dairy feed and electricity generation. Changing markets for these coproducts are spurring innovation for higher value uses, both economically and environmentally. By 2025, the California almond community commits to achieve zero waste in our orchards by putting everything we grow to optimal use.  Increasing Adoption of Environmentally Friendly Pest Management Tools Responsible almond farming requires protecting the crop and trees from bugs, weeds and disease through an integrated pest management approach. This means using tools and techniques like beneficial insects, habitat removal, mating disruption and, when necessary, pesticides. To further protect our orchards, employees and communities, by 2025, we commit to increase adoption of environmentally-friendly pest management tools by 25 percent. Improving Local Air Quality During Almond Harvest California almonds are harvested by shaking the nuts to the ground where they dry naturally in the sun before being swept up and collected, a process that can create dust in our local communities. To address this nuisance, the almond community is taking short- and long-term steps to reimagine how we harvest and, by 2025, commits to reduce dust during harvest by 50%. “We try to be a good steward of the land by doing more with less—less inputs, less applications, less trips into the field, obviously less water,” said Brian Wahlbrink, almond farmer in Stanislaus County and chair of the Almond Board’s Harvest Workgroup. “These goals will drive us to substantive improvements, building on past achievements and sharing our progress as we work toward 2025. I am very confident in where we are going.” In addition to the 2025 goals, California almond farmers continue to support research in other areas critical to success, investing in seven new projects focused on honey bee health this year alone. This effort builds on a legacy of $3.2 million invested in 120 research projects since 1995 addressing the five major factors impacting honey bee health. As part of its ongoing commitment to bee health, the Almond Board has also developed a comprehensive set of Honey Bee Best Management Practices for California almond farmers. Widely adopted, these best practices are constantly evolving to ensure the safety of honey bees during almond pollination and beyond. “By working collectively towards the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals and key areas such as bee health, we are ensuring that we can farm here in California for the long haul. That means taking care of the land to the best ability we can and farming responsibly. This commitment is based on a history of improving growing practices and will truly impact how we farm in the future,” said Almond Board of California president and CEO, Richard Waycott. The California almond community is a collection of family-run farms dedicated to making life better through innovation and responsibly producing a healthy food accessible to people around the world. For over four decades, almond farmers and processors have funded $80 million in scientific research, making significant advancements in the areas of water, nutrient management, air quality, honey bee health and more, increasing farming efficiencies while minimizing environmental impacts.   [1] University of California, 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012. Almond Board of California, 1990–94, 2000–14.  
almond orchard
News Article
// Environmental Sustainability

Almond Board of California Fueling Innovation with $6.8 Million Research Investment

The Almond Board of California (ABC) announced a $6.8 million investment in 75 independent research projects exploring next-generation farming practices including optimal use of everything almond orchards grow. In addition to improving production practices, the research projects help the California almond community provide almond lovers around the world with a safe, wholesome and sustainable product. The announcement was made at the 46th annual Almond Conference, an event held in Sacramento, Calif., convening almond farmers, processors and researchers to discuss the latest science behind responsible almond farming. ABC’s research programs provide a scientific basis for best practices across several priority areas, including water sustainability, pollinator health and finding new uses for almond coproducts, including hulls, shells and woody material. “Innovation is at the core of sustainable almond farming. Driven by family farmers, the almond community is committed to continuous improvement, ensuring a better environment and future for our children and grandchildren, neighbors and employees,” said Almond Board of California President and CEO, Richard Waycott. “Since 1973 almond farmers and processors have invested $80 million in research through the Almond Board to improve our understanding of almonds’ impact on human health, ensure food quality and safety, and improve farming practices while minimizing environmental impacts.” Finding New Uses for Almond Coproducts Almonds grow in a shell, protected by a hull, on a tree. Farmers have always taken responsibility for these coproducts, ensuring they are put to beneficial use rather than sent to landfill. Today, the California almond community is focusing research investment on optimal uses for these coproducts, embracing a zero-waste approach that addresses critical needs across multiple industries. This year ABC funded nine coproducts-focused research projects totaling $1.2 million with applications spanning from in-orchard utilization to value-added uses. “We enjoy working with the almond community because their goals align with ours. The Almond Board is investing in research so nothing goes to waste, with the goal of a neutral footprint,” said Lydia Palma, researcher and PhD student at University of California, Davis. “Our research partnership focuses on developing new technologies to convert almond coproducts into valuable products.” Three ongoing almond coproduct research projects showing promising results are: Recycled Polypropylene-Polyethylene Torrified Almond Shell  Biocomposites. USDA-ARS, Western Regional Research Center[1] – Almond shells have traditionally been used as livestock bedding. This research explores how almond shells, transformed to a charcoal-like powder through a process known as torrefaction, can serve as a strengthening agent and colorant for post-consumer recycled plastics. Cultivation of Black Soldier Fly Larvae on Almond Byproducts. University of California, Davis[2] – Almonds’ sugary, fibrous hulls can feed animals big and small, including the emerging world of insect farming. This research project explores raising black soldier fly larvae, used as a feedstock for poultry and aquaculture, on almond hulls. Almond Hull Byproducts as a Casing Amendment Material in Mushroom Cultivation. USDA-ARS, Western Regional Research Center[3] – With their sugars removed for other uses, the remaining hull material can serve as an alternative to traditional peat moss for mushroom cultivation. This research project explores using almond hulls as a growing medium for commercial mushrooms, with preliminary results showing several benefits including optimal water absorption and increased yields. “Creating new ways to use a product that has historically been thought of as a single-use item is very exciting,” said Mike Curry, almond huller/sheller with Johnson Farms. “The entire production and supply chain, including the consumer, will benefit from the development of new products from almond hulls and shells.” Additional Opportunities for Innovation Commitment to scientific research supports the California almond community in growing the farm of the future. To improve water sustainability, farmers are adopting precision irrigation technology and exploring replenishing underground aquifers through on-farm groundwater recharge. To ensure the safety of honey bees, essential to pollinating almonds, farmers work closely with beekeepers and follow research-based best practices. Research continues to fine-tune the optimal approach to planting bee pastures which supply additional nutrition to bee hives and other nearby pollinators. Water and honey bee-focused research projects funded by ABC this year include $610,000 to nine water projects and $579,000 to seven honey bee health projects. This builds upon more than 200 water research projects funded since 1982, helping farmers reduce the water needed to grow a pound of almonds by 33% over the past 20 years,[1] and, with 120 projects funded to date, ABC has supported more honey bee health research than any other crop group.[2] Almond Board research projects are funded through an assessment paid per pound of almonds produced. After review by research advisors and workgroups focused on distinct almond farming topics, projects are selected by a committee of almond farmers and processors based on strategic alignment to industry needs and anticipated impact of the research.   For more information about ABC’s 45 years of almond farming and environmental research, visit Almonds.com/GrowingGood. Media Contact: Kelsey Johnson – 617-897-8262; Kelsey.johnson@porternovelli.com Julia Hannon – 212-601-8234; Julia.hannon@porternovelli.com     [1] Zach McCaffrey, et al. Recycled polypropylene-polyethylene torrefied almond shell biocomposites. Journal of Industrial Crops and Products. December 2018. [2] Lydia Palma, et al. Cultivation of black soldier fly larvae on almond byproducts: impacts of aeration and moisture on larvae growth and composition. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. December 2018. [3] Allison Flynn, et al. Almond hull byproducts as a casing amendment material in mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) cultivation. Mushroom News. American Mushroom Institute. October 2018. bit.ly/2TTlM9V [4] University of California, Feb. 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, 2012. Almond Board of California, 1990-94, 2000-14. [5] Gene Brandi. Vice President, American Beekeeping Federation.  
almond orchard in bloom
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// About the Almond Board, About the Almond Industry
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