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 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.