National Nut Grower National Nut Grower

Oct 6, 2022
The BetterSoil Alliance welcomes new partners

The BetterSoil Alliance supports the California almond industry in the pursuit of practical solutions that positively impact food production by improving water productivity, soil health, and lowering carbon footprint. Since its inception last fall by Yara North America and Heliae Agriculture, the alliance has put sustainably focused solutions to the test across 6,000 acres to understand their collective impact on critical issues the almond industry faces, including water scarcity, drought and rising temperatures.

Two new partners have recently joined the Alliance — Ceres Imaging and Phytech — each bringing a unique and deeper understanding of cropping systems to inform practical management changes that support the key BetterSoil Alliance ambitions.

Ceres Imaging supports growers with advanced analytics and high-resolution aerial imagery, giving a full picture of crop health and irrigation efficiency. Phytech delivers direct plant sensing to understand the real-time irrigation needs, taking into consideration weather and satellite imagery variables.

“At the foundation of the Better Soil Alliance is the belief that through industry partner collaboration we can accelerate the deployment of critical solutions that will support the long-term viability of the almond industry,” said Debbie Watts, VP Yara North America. “Our new partners – Ceres Imaging and Phytech – bring valuable insight, opportunities to bring the solutions to more acres, and, most importantly, tools that are already delivering positive, measurable changes to grower practices.”

Over the past year, the alliance has established a framework for evaluating soil chemical, physical and biological properties, treatment level plant response (growth, moisture stress, vigor), and yield potential. At the end of the season, crop yield/quality, nutrient use efficiency, water productivity, and greenhouse gas emissions will be calculated and evaluated against grower standard practices to validate improvements for growers. Following harvest, the alliance will share initial findings from the first year of trialing to ensure valuable insights are available to the entire industry.

“Improving soil health has become an important focus for almond growers since the inception of the alliance”, said Tony Donoho, VP of Heliae Agriculture. “Our collaboration in the alliance has increased industry awareness on new solutions and production practices that improve soil quality, thus increasing water productivity and yield for California almond growers.”

How to get involved
Almond growers (with 80 acres or more) and advisors are invited to participate in implementing the solutions through customized crop and soil nutrition programs. Participants are eligible to receive a sustainability reward based on water productivity and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) improvements. Data collected from participating growers’ orchards will be used to better understand the positive impact the solutions implemented in the program can have. To allow for collaboration with as many growers as possible, the alliance urges the industry to participate through pledges to help fund the sustainability awards.

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