Almond Board: Air Quality Programs

Taylor Hillman Almond Update

There are programs available for almond growers and others to help improve air quality. Ted Strauss, California Air Quality Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service tells us more.

More from the NRCS:
California Air Quality Programs

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

Each fiscal year, NRCS focuses financial and technical assistance through the EQIP Air Quality Initiatives.

The National Air Quality Initiative is available to California counties that are federally designated as “Nonattainment” of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards by the EPA. For California, the typical conservation treatment is the removal from service and permanent destruction of in-use diesel-powered internal combustion engines that power and self-propel off-road mobile agricultural equipment, to be replaced with new diesel-powered off-road mobile equipment meeting current model-year California emission standards (i.e. Tier-certification for off-road diesel engines) as determined by the applicable EPA Engine Family Name and State of California Air Resources Board (ARB) Executive Order. Significant emission reduction benefits of ozone precursors, particulate matter, and hazardous air pollutants are achieved when high-polluting engines are retired earlier than through normal turnover and replaced with new, cleaner model-year off-road diesel engines.

The California Air Quality Initiative is available in California and includes three separate initiatives:

Particulate Matter Reduction: Agricultural operations can be sources of “fugitive dust” emissions, which may contain direct particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (PM10) or 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in mean diameter. The conservation treatments for reducing particulate matter emissions are to: adopt no-till or reduced-till conservation tillage and residue management practices; utilize combined-tillage implements that perform multiple tasks in a single pass during land preparation; implement a reduced-pass tillage management system; use “low-dust” nut harvester technologies instead of conventional nut harvesters; stabilize unpaved on-farm roads and vehicle traffic areas with dust suppressants; establish windbreaks and shelterbelts around animal feeding operations; install a solid-set sprinkler system at animal feeding operations; chip orchard or vineyard removal debris in lieu of open burning; and safe handling and disposal of chemically-treated wooden stakes from orchards or vineyards.

Ozone Reduction: Ambient ozone reductions are achieved by reducing two primary precursor pollutants from its source, oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). The typical conservation treatments for addressing this air quality resource concern is reducing VOC emissions by implementing: precision spray application technologies or integrated pest management strategies; and limiting reactive nitrogen and odors through manure injection methods on dairies.

Agricultural Irrigation Engines: Significant emission reduction benefits are achieved when higher-polluting agricultural irrigation engines are removed from service and permanently destroyed and repowered with new electric motors or new diesel engines certified as meeting Tier 4 emissions standards. The air quality resource concerns at the source are ozone precursors and particulate matter, though repowering with new electric motors essentially eliminates the air quality resource concerns at the source. The two typical conservation treatments are: repowering stationary in-use irrigation pumping plants powered by spark-ignition engines or diesel engines meeting Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 emissions certification with new electric motors; or repowering stationary or portable in-use irrigation pumping plants powered by Tier 1 or Tier 2 diesel engines with new Tier 4 emissions-certified diesel engines.

Conservation Innovation Grants

The Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production.