Heinrich’s son Eric demonstrated use of the pressure chamber and real-time soil moisture monitoring to dial in timing and rate of water applications for optimum efficiency. Using a pressure chamber also helps him induce moderate stress to use deficit irrigation for hull rot management.

“Water management is the key to successfully growing an almond crop,” Heinrich said. “If you do water management right, everything else falls in behind it.”

Both Heinrich and Bowman participate in the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP), attending workshops and completing online assessments of their almond growing practices related to irrigation and nutrient management, energy efficiency, air quality and pest management.

For these growers, the primary motive in participating in CASP and implementing environmentally sensitive practices is to improve efficiency. But, like other growers, Bowman says the added benefit is to prove to regulators, almond retailers and others that they are addressing environmental concerns voluntarily. This is particularly important as regulators, for example through the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, consider ways that improved water and nutrient management can reduce potential impacts to surface and groundwater.

 

 

“I think it’s important for growers to participate in CASP to tell the world we are growing almonds in a safe and sustainable way,” Bowman said.

Regulators in attendance noted that the Environmental Stewardship Tour provides an opportunity to see almond-growing practices first-hand and to further communicate with growers who are affected by the decisions they make.

Boots on the Ground

Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, attended his second environmental stewardship tour on May 17, saying it is helpful for him and his staff to visit an almond operation in person.

“It’s great for staff who are trying to figure out regulations to be on the ground; to see the almonds but also to see the growers and realize these are human beings trying to do a very complex task and to see their challenges,” he said.

 

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