Company/organization and country: Treehouse California Almonds, LLC, USA
Type of project: Research, business implementation
SDG(s) relevant to the project: 2, 6, 12, 13, 15
Topic(s): Industrial innovation, circular economy, supply chain transparency and traceability, nature-positive approaches and regenerative agriculture, water management, multistakeholder collaboration (scientist, farmers, researchers, CPG’s, processors and crop advisors).
Project end date and duration: 2027 (5 years)
Abstract: The Almond Project is a multi-year, farmer-led partnership created to identify more sustainable farming methods and pave the way towards a more resilient future for almonds. By building a coalition of farmers, scientists, brands, technical service providers, processors, and customers, we’re implementing and testing a variety of soil health practices on almond farms in California. We’re measuring key outcomes across soil and ecosystem health, such as water holding capacity and infiltration, carbon sequestration, and ecosystem biodiversity in comparison to neighboring baselines. Our mission is to preserve natural resources, enable ecosystem regeneration, protect farming communities, and ensure the livelihood of nutritionally-rich almonds for generations to come.
Almonds are a nutrient-dense, protein-packed superfood. But the climate crisis poses a dire threat to these nuts and the farmers whose livelihoods depend on them – especially in California, which supplies 80% of the world’s almonds.
We believe that healthy soil is key to the longevity of almond farming –but practical research is hard to come by, and the financial risk of testing and adopting new practices too often falls solely on farmers. Food companies have a responsibility to share the economic burden.
In the short term, The Almond Project aims to identify approaches to almond farming that improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and empower local farming communities. Longer-term, the program seeks to develop proof points to incentivize farmers and food companies to adopt practices that have the potential to regenerate California’s working lands, contribute to balancing our climate crisis, and enable the sustainability of farming in the Central Valley for generations to come.
View The Almond Project Panel at Expo West March 7, 2023 in Anaheim, California:
- The Almond Project: Building Regenerative Supply Chain Through Collaboration
- New Hope Award Speech
- New Hope Award Press Release: New Hope Community Purpose and Impact Awards honors 8 industry members
- Food Industry Trends on Display at Expo West; ABC Board Member Accepts Award (almonds.com)
- Treehouse Almonds, The Almond Project Partners receive New Hope Regeneration and Sustainability Award (snackandbakery.com)
5-year research project: Baseline and multi-year testing
- 160 acres soil health management practices
- 80 acres Organic Almonds, 80 acres Conventional Almonds
- 150 acres comparison blocks
- 75 acres Organic Almonds, 75 acres Conventional Almonds
Soil Health Practices: Multi species cover crops, animal integration, increased compost application, input reduction (i.e., elimination of glyphosate).
Baseline & multi-year tests: soil texture, soil organic matter, ph., total organic carbon, water extractable/available organic carbon, water extractable organic nitrogen, potentially mineralizable carbon, bulk density, nitrate/ammonium, phosphorus/potassium, nutrient analysis, aggregate stability, water holding capacity, electrical conductivity, leaf tissue analysis, almond nutritional analyses.
Ecological Outcome Verification:Testing the adaptation of Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV), developed by the Savory Institute, to almond orchard growing systems. The trial of EOV on these almond orchards will serve as a vital resource to help establish a verification program for almonds and other perennial cropping systems.
Questions We’re Asking:
- Water: Can practices increase water use efficiency, increasing water holding capacity and infiltration rates?
- Carbon: Can practices increase soil organic matter, correlating to carbon sequestration potential in the soil and increased belowground biomass of the trees?
- Biodiversity: Can practices increase biodiversity above and below ground, including microbiological activity and beneficial insects?
- Chemical Usage: Can these practices allow for a reduction in synthetic pesticide/fungicide/ herbicide/fertilizer use?
The Almond Project is testing scalable soil health practices in hopes to improve water use efficiency, sequester carbon, increase biodiversity and reduce chemical usage. Yield, input costs and product quality are also important data sets we are monitoring as they are necessary proof points for both farm and food company adoption.
 Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) is an approach developed by the Savory Institute that measures and trends ecological outcomes on participating producers’ land. If results trend positive, a verification is granted and the farm is entered into the Land to Market Verified Regenerative Supplier Roster, which will, in turn, make it easier for food manufacturers to source and customers to purchase foods farmed using regenerative practices.