While there will be intensified scrutiny on growers’ use of nitrogen, the good news for many almond growers is that they already are taking significant steps to optimize efficient use of nitrogen and minimize environmental impacts.

Recent results of an ABC-funded survey of California almond growers show that they are very interested in information and techniques that maximize nitrogen use efficiency while helping them meet mounting environmental standards.

An interdisciplinary nutrition project supported jointly by the Almond Board and USDA grant funds is looking for ways to further improve nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in the orchard. Nitrogen use efficiency is calculated as the nitrogen applied compared to nitrogen removed with the crop.

The project has shown that current methods and technologies are achieving NUE of 70 percent to 80 percent in some almond orchards by using multiple applications of N applied through fertigation and timed to the development of the tree.

Soil water monitoring

It is also critical that applied irrigation volumes do not move the water below the root zone. Some of the newer soil water monitoring technologies that provide real time soil water profiles can assist in ensuring water doesn’t move below the roots.

While almonds require a good deal of nitrogen, high use efficiency means growers can do a good job matching N applications with in-season demand to greatly reduce off-target movement. The Almond Board will continue to fund research that gives growers the tools to further improve that efficiency through enhanced tissue and orchard sampling guidelines and updated information on fertilization rates and timing.

For more information on keeping inputs out of ground water, go to almondboard.com/farmpress12.