Almond Board of California to invest $6.8 million in 75 research projects

December 6, 2018

The Almond Board of California (ABC) has announced a $6.8 million investment in 75 independent research projects exploring next-generation farming practices including optimal use of everything almond orchards grow. In addition to improving production practices, the research projects help the California almond community provide consumers around the world with a safe, wholesome, and sustainable product.

ABC’s research programs provide a scientific basis for best practices across several priority areas, including water sustainability, pollinator health, and finding new uses for almond co-products, including hulls, shells, and woody material.

The California almond community is focusing research investment on optimal uses for almond co-products—including the shells and hulls—embracing a zero-waste approach that addresses critical needs across multiple industries. This year, ABC funded nine co-products-focused research projects totaling $1.2 million with applications spanning from in-orchard utilization to value-added uses.

Three ongoing almond co-product research projects showing promising results are:

  • Recycled polypropylene-polyethylene torrified almond shell biocomposites—Research conducted by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service (USDA ARS), Western Regional Research Center, explores how almond shells, transformed to a charcoal-like powder through a process known as torrefaction, can serve as a strengthening agent and colorant for post-consumer recycled plastics.
  • Cultivation of black soldier fly larvae on almond byproducts—Almonds’ sugary, fibrous hulls can feed animals big and small, including the emerging world of insect farming. Researchers at the University of California–Davis explore raising black soldier fly larvae, used as a feedstock for poultry and aquaculture, on almond hulls.
  • Almond hull byproducts as a casing amendment material in mushroom cultivation—With their sugars removed for other uses, the remaining hull material can serve as an alternative to traditional peat moss for mushroom cultivation. Researchers at the USDA ARS Western Regional Research Center explore using almond hulls as a growing medium for commercial mushrooms, with preliminary results showing several benefits including optimal water absorption and increased yields.

Almond Board research projects are funded through an assessment paid per pound of almonds produced. After review by research advisors and workgroups focused on distinct almond farming topics, projects are selected by a committee of almond farmers and processors based on strategic alignment to industry needs and anticipated impact of the research.

Press release