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Continued Innovation Accompanies Increased California Almond Acreage

MODESTO, Calif. – Today, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that California’s almond acreage continued to increase in 2017. Bearing acres, that is orchards old enough to produce a crop, were reported at 1 million acres, which is up 6 percent from 2016.  Total almond acres for 2017 were estimated at 1.33 million acres, up 7 percent from the previous year.[1] The expansion of almond acreage means more almonds to feed a growing consumer demand — but also represents an opportunity for farmers to add value with coproduct innovations. More than two pounds of hulls and shells are produced for each pound of almond kernels from California orchards.[2] These coproducts have historically been used as livestock bedding and dairy feed, but Almond Board-funded research is underway to identify ways to increase utilization and redefine orchard coproducts as valuable materials for other industries. The future of almond coproducts includes pilot scale testing to improve soil quality, strengthen recycled plastics and feed insect larvae for poultry feed.[3] “The Almond Board remains dedicated to the future of the almond industry, driving innovations like coproduct utilization to ensure the continued success of farmers,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO, Almond Board of California. “With an increasing almond acreage, the industry has more opportunity to realize the full potential of everything an almond orchard provides.”   [1] USDA-NASS. 2017 California Almond Acreage Report. April 2018. [2] Kernel Weight - USDA Incomings received by Almond Board of California. Shell and Hull Estimations - Almond Alliance of California. August 2017. [3] Huang, G., Covello, K., VanderGheynst, J., Simmons, C., Chiou, B. Almond Biomass — The Real, Weird and Wonderful Opportunities for Greater Utilization. December 2017.
almonds hanging from almond tree
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// About the Almond Industry

A Third-Generation Almond Farmer Talks Sustainability & Water Conservation

Why is water sustainability such a high priority when it comes to growing almonds? Over 90 percent of California almond farms are family farms, many owned and operated by multigenerational farmers like myself who live on their land and plan to pass it down to their children. We take a long-term view of success based on respect for the land and our local communities. The most important responsibilities of a farmer are to be good stewards of the land and to protect our natural resources. What is a water tip consumers can take away from your business practices? Strive to make every drop count. We’ve installed efficient microirrigation systems in our orchards to do just that. Similar technology exists for landscaping and backyard gardens, ensuring water is delivered exactly where plants need it, rather than being wasted. Consider soil texture before watering. Different types of soil can hold different amounts of water. If moist soil can form a firm ball in your hand when squeezed, this finer soil will hold more water than a coarser soil like sand, meaning it doesn’t need to be irrigated as often. Another tip is to try eliminating food waste at home or compost that which isn’t eaten, recognizing the water that goes into growing that food. Almonds grow on a tree, inside a shell, protected by a fuzzy outer hull, and we make sure everything our orchards grow is put to good use. In addition to the almonds we eat, the trees store carbon and are transformed into electricity at the end of their lives, the shells become livestock bedding and the hulls are nutritious dairy feed. Nothing goes to waste. What are some new innovations in farming that allow for greater water efficiency? To ensure our trees get water only when they need it, 87 percent of almond farms use demand-based irrigation scheduling instead of a predetermined schedule. But we’re not stopping there. Just like other sectors, technology has exploded within agriculture, allowing us to precisely measure what is needed to grow more crop per drop. For example, soil moisture probes track irrigation water moving through the soil. Real-time data is transmitted to our mobile phones, allowing us to make immediate adjustments and send water only where the trees need it. We can further fine-tune our irrigation scheduling by monitoring the amount of water stress the trees are feeling with pressure chamber technology. Similar to measuring blood pressure for humans, this device tells us how thirsty the trees are and allows us to stretch the amount of time between irrigating.  How do you see farming changing with regard to sustainability within the next 10 years? An exciting new area is looking at everything our orchards grows and investigating bold, innovative uses for its coproducts: the almond hulls, shells and trees themselves. With traditional markets for these materials changing, this will bring value to the almond community while contributing to zero waste and addressing needs across food, automotive and more. Current research is exploring using almond coproducts as a growing medium for mushroom cultivation, producing feed sources for poultry, plastic additives for strength and color, soil amendments for almonds and other crops, supplemental winter food sources for honey bees and even for brewing beer. Sustainable Living
In The News
// Environmental Sustainability

California Almonds’ Water Footprint Smaller than Global Average

a.blue-link { color: #1276a6; border-bottom: 1px solid #1276a6; } a:hover.blue-link { border-bottom: none; } New research published in the Journal of Ecological Indicators has found that the water footprint of almonds grown in California is smaller[1] than a global average originally reported (see graph).[2]  The study also reaffirms that growing almonds is a good use of water. According to study author and University of California, Davis researcher Fraser Shilling, “The study illustrates a balancing act. It’s not just that almonds use water, but that there are benefits you get with that use of water.” To that end, the research found that almonds rank among the most valuable foods grown in California in terms of the dietary and economic benefits for the water needed to produce them.[3] In general, plants require more energy, and thus water, to grow proteins and fats than carbohydrates and sugars.[4] So, while almonds and other nuts grown in California need more water per serving than most fruits and vegetables, they are also rich in essential nutrients, good fats and protein, which contribute to their popularity as a healthy, satisfying and heart-smart snack.[5] “Growing our knowledge base around essential issues like water is core to the California almond community’s sustainability journey and key to responsible farming,” said Richard Waycott, Almond Board of California (ABC) President and CEO. “Primarily, this research helps us better understand the water footprint of California almonds and opportunities for further improvement. But, as part of a larger picture considering the water used to grow food in California, it also highlights some of the key attributes for human health and for California’s economy.” Since 1973, the California almond community has been investing in research to improve how almonds are grown and processed, including the support of 201 water research projects to date. “The Almond Board is proud to be rooted in science that serves as the foundation for continuous improvement by almond farmers and processors,” said Gabriele Ludwig, ABC Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs.  “Water footprint is a theoretical approach for determining the amount of water – direct and indirect – used in the production of a product and, like other ecological impact calculations, is based on modeling. In the case of this research, the modeling is based on calculating the maximum water needed to grow almond trees,” continued Ludwig. “But in practice, almond farmers generally use about 25 percent less water than the models show.”[6] Over the past 20 years, California almond farmers have reduced the amount of water it takes to grow one pound of almonds by 33 percent thanks to research-based farming improvements and the adoption of water-saving technology.[7] What’s more, almond farmers grow four crops per drop, including almond hulls, shells and woody material, and using and recycling those coproducts can offset some of almonds’ water footprint. The trees store carbon and are transformed into electricity at the end of their lives, the shells become livestock bedding and the hulls are nutritious dairy feed, reducing the water needed to grow other feed crops. While other crops can leave behind pits, peels and rinds, almonds are relatively unique in that nothing goes to waste. Almond Board of California continues to provide almond farmers with the research and best practices to create more sustainable water resources in California. To learn more almonds and water, visit Almonds.com/Water. For more on the new research publication, see the Water Footprint + Almonds factsheet.   __________________________________________________________________ [1] Fulton, et al. Water-Indexed Benefits and Impacts of California Almonds. Journal of Ecological Indicators. Apr. 2018. [2] Mekonnen, M., & Hoekstra, A. The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Crops and Derived Crop Products. UNESCO – IHE Institute for Water Education. 2010. [3] Fulton, et al. Water-Indexed Benefits and Impacts of California Almonds. Journal of Ecological Indicators. Apr. 2018. [4] Munier-Jolain, et al. Are the carbon costs of seed production related to the quantitative and qualitative performance? An appraisal for legumes and other crops. Plant, Cell & Environment. Volume 23, Issue 11. Nov. 2005. [5] Good news about almonds and heart health. Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving on almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat. [6] California Almond Sustainability Program. Jan. 2018. [7] University of California, 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012. Almond Board of California, 1990-94, 2000-14.  
the ground under an almond tree
News Article
// Environmental Sustainability

Own Your Everyday, Every Day with Quick, No-Brainer Snacking Solutions

MODESTO, Calif. – On average, Americans make 226.7 decisions each day on food alone[1], but there is one “no brainer” decision   you can make to stay on track and keep up the momentum – grabbing a handful of almonds. One serving of almonds provides six grams of hunger-fighting protein and four grams of filling fiber, delivering sustained energy to fuel anyone’s marathon decision-making journey and power through that daily to-do list. California Almonds is building on its new campaign “Own Your Everyday, Every Day” by partnering with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Abby Langer. As a food blogger and contributor to publications like Self.com, Langer’s claim to fame has been her funny, sharp-shooting style where she calls things as she sees them and avoids BS. To that end, Langer has worked with California Almonds to bring the daily decision-making process to life with a free online, interactive storytelling tool. The Own It with Abby Decision Tree allows users to take control of their day, mapping out their daily adventures and tasks with Langer providing motivational ways and tips to own it. From pre-packing your gym bag the night before to writing down small, ownable goals for the week, daily success is attainable. “You don’t need a master’s degree in nutrition to make better food and lifestyle choices (though don’t let my clients know this!),” says Langer. “No matter how time-crunched you are, you can always choose healthy snacks like almonds to own your day and keep making progress towards your larger goals.”   Langer shares additional quick, simple tips to own it like: Take a break away from technology to refocus your day. Plan a break or two in your day, and write it into your schedule to make sure the time is protected. Keep a stash of satisfying snacks in your desk drawer, car, or otherwise nearby. This helps to avoid the temptation to eat whatever is around and make smart, planned choices. Almonds are a go-to because they don’t get rotten or need refrigeration, and they have the protein, fiber and good fats you’ll need to power through the day. Think you’re too busy to cook dinner? Before you hit the drive-thru or the take-out, consider how easy, healthier and usually less expensive a one-pan meal is. You can sauté protein and veggies with olive oil, salt, minced garlic and pepper. Voilà!   Check out how your daily journey stacks up on the Own It with Abby Decision Tree, and then share the results and how you own your day by using #OwnYourEveryday.   Visit Almonds.com/Own-Your-Everyday for more information, tips and recipes.   About Abby Langer, RDN Abby Langer, RDN is a communications and consulting dietitian and owner of the Toronto-based Abby Langer Nutrition. Langer is a contributor to the New York Times, SELF and the Huffington Post, and has been featured in radio, print, and television media in both the U.S. and Canada. She develops recipes and content for brands and for her own blog, AbbyLangerNutrition.com. Check out Langer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.   [1] Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook. Brian Wansink, Jeffery Sobal. Environment and Behavior. Vol 39, Issue 1, pp. 106 – 123. First Published January 1, 2007
bowl of almonds
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