Dale Buss

March 2023

Volume 77, No. 2

Beautiful aerial view of large almond orchard on a California farm in summer.

© alabn/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Beautiful aerial view of large almond orchard on a California farm in summer.

© alabn/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Woolf Farming is one of Danone’s partners in the promotion of regenerative agriculture. The outfit operates 25,000 acres in California’s farming-rich Central Valley, raising crops from almonds and pistachios to garlic, tomatoes, and cotton.

Danone buys almonds from Woolf for use in its almond-based nondairy products and pays Woolf about $50 an acre each year to offset Woolf’s costs of cover-cropping with triticale, legumes, and flowering plants that help pollinators. Danone’s funds also help Woolf’s own research into cover-cropping practices.

Among other things, the cover crops boost water retention for notoriously thirsty almond trees. “If we’re able to improve water penetration, we can run fewer hours of water because we don’t have to make up for the runoff,” explains Daniel Hartwig, Woolf’s resource manager. “We can reduce by maybe 4%–5% the amount of water we need through soil health practices.”

As for Danone, the company “gets the knowledge that they’re helping to improve soil health, helping to store carbon, which is improving the world,” Hartwig says.

Woolf has adopted other regenerative practices, such as developing a 10-acre garden to attract bees and other pollinators amid an on-farm array of solar panels. And it is bringing in more compost from local vendors to use on its trees and row crops. “It helps us reduce our reliance on synthetic fertilizers,” Hartwig says.

About the Author

Dale Buss, contributing editor, is an award-winning journalist and book author whose career has included reporting for The Wall Street Journal, where he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize ([email protected]).

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