Dec 2, 2022
Dec. 9 deadline for Almond Leadership Program applications

The Almond Leadership Program (ALP) annually attracts some of the best and brightest minds in the industry. Over the course of a year, the participants dive into the various aspects of the business — whether it’s the latest in farming and processing techniques, how to integrate new technology or advances in crop science, and even marketing initiatives to ensure there are places to sell the billions of pounds of nuts grown each year in California.

In September, 15 members of this year’s ALP class — co-sponsored by the Almond Board of California and Bayer Crop Science — spent a day at Bayer’s Western Field Technology Station in Fresno. The 120-acre facility features 26 different crops and serves as an innovation hub for Bayer.

Travis Hill, area business manager for Bayer Crop Science, said it is important for future leaders in the almond industry to have a better understanding of what companies like Bayer are doing.

“What we’re all wanting to accomplish is to raise the crops in an efficient and sustainable way that makes these crops more abundant for us to feed a growing world population, and for all of us to recognize that we’re building this for a better next generation,” Hill explained.

Among the day’s highlights for the ALP participants was seeing how unmanned aircraft systems compare with ground-based machines when it comes to making applications. Bayer field solutions entomology specialist Raksha Kuenen also showcased how their products are supporting bees and other natural pollinators and emphasized that sustainability is at the heart of everything the company does.

“Bayer’s solutions for almond growers have evolved over time, and we truly believe in Science for a Better Life,” said Alfonso Cabrera, the manager of the Western Field Technology Station. “As an innovation company, we have discovered new solutions for growers improving application delivery, as well as confirming the harmonized use of these products in an integrated pest/crop management approach.

“One of the main goals here is to start developing tailored solutions in which we can combine, for example, some of our newest product technologies with partner innovations like precision irrigation so we can provide a complete package for farmers.”

ALP participants got a front row seat to see how sensing and application drones are being tested at the Field Technology Station. Photo: Almond Board of California

In addition to site visits like the one to Fresno, ALP participants since 2009 have regularly walked away with many other memorable experiences. Alumni who represent different areas of the industry consistently tout the importance of coming together to gain a better perspective about key economic, environmental and social issues affecting the industry. They also learn how all sectors in the almond supply chain work together to provide a safe, sustainable product to consumers worldwide. And many say the relationships they forged during their time in ALP pay dividends for years down the road.

Each ALP participant also is required to pursue an area of interest as part of a yearlong self-directed project that they will present to fellow classmates, mentors and the ABC board of directors at the end of the program. The purpose of the project is to challenge participants to take a deep dive into a topic that interests them, try a new technology or innovative practice in their operation or explore a new or novel idea that advances the industry in some capacity. Michael Coe, sales director for Blue Diamond, was selected as this year’s winner by his peers, mentors and ABC staff with his special project titled “Brown Spot Awareness: A Concerning Trend for Future Harvests of Distraction?” and will present on Thursday, Dec. 8, from 11:10-11:30 on the Almond Stage in the Almond Conference Expo.

If the Almond Leadership Program sounds like something you would be interested in – or you know someone at your company who would benefit — now is the time to apply. The application can be completed online. The deadline to apply is Dec. 9.

– Almond Board of California

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