On a day that marked both National Almond Day and National Innovation Day, it was only fitting that the Almond Board of California celebrated the occasion with a $4.7 million commitment to 82 independent, third-party research projects exploring next-generation farming and sustainability practices.
“This commitment helps ensure that almond farmers and the industry as a whole have the tools to implement sustainable production practices that result in a plentiful, nutritious and safe food product for consumers the world over to enjoy,” said Almond Board Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs Gabriele Ludwig.
Commitments of this magnitude are not new to the almond industry, according to Ludwig, who said that the Almond Board has funded $60 million in research for over 40 years. Funding over the years has covered a wide range of subjects from irrigation efficiency to air quality to honey bee health. This year’s research projects will include 17 dedicated to irrigation improvement with an investment of $1.3 million and 11 focused on major factors impacting honey bee health with a commitment of nearly $400,000.
“We’re just letting people know that as the industry has grown, we have continued to increase our commitment to fund a range of research projects to help almond growers grow better or understand the complex issues that agriculture faces in California nowadays,” said Ludwig.
Research that is funded through the Almond Board is strengthened with grants from the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which has awarded $2.39 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture research funding to 10 almond-related projects.
“It is gratifying to see that the industry dollars our committees are putting toward research or to outreach has compelled additional research funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program,” said Ludwig. “Not only does this further advance almond production, it helps improve California agriculture as a whole.”
Almond Board-funded research is also reinforced by the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, which has committed $55.7 million to 528 agricultural projects to invest in irrigation systems and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save water. The latest funding award provided about 16 almond growers with the means to install cutting-edge irrigation technology.
“This investment continues California’s ongoing innovation in agricultural water use efficiency,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “Farmers involved in this program are making positive on-farm changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, grow food with the most efficient use of water and help address our changing climate.”