A recent episode of the Almond Journey podcast from the Almond Board of California (ABC) highlights one producer’s experiences with dust reduction. Bret Sill is the ranch manager for Sill Properties in Kern County. As a fourth-generation farmer, his family has been farming in the area for nearly 100 years. Having switched from cotton to growing more than 2,000 acres of almonds, Sill noted their adoption of new technologies and practices has helped keep the farm successful over the years. Working to reduce dust during harvest is one practice Sill said has provided a range of different benefits.
“Bret talks a lot about the benefits well beyond just sort of the nuisance of dust, as he talks about for his neighbors but also for his own employees. But also, just the benefits in terms of controlling pests like mites. When you kick up dust, you kick up mites into the trees and stress the trees,” said Daren Williams, ABC Senior Director of Global Communications. “Then just cleaner product being delivered into the system to their handler. That’s a big issue. Whether it’s bringing rocks and twigs and things like that into the huller/sheller, or even just the quality of the hulls that are going to end up in animal feed or potentially other applications down the road.”
Williams also explained that the dust reduction portion of the Almond Orchard 2025 goals has been somewhat controversial with growers. Some producers have raised concerns about the time and money involved with implementing low-dust approaches and equipment. In the podcast Sill talks about taking advantage of the incentives available from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The incentive programs available to growers can help to mitigate the cost of acquiring dust reduction equipment.
“One of the tips that Bret gives is to make sure to jump on that as soon as you hear about incentives becoming available from the Air Resources Board because they do go fast,” Williams noted. “The other thing that Bret talks a lot about is just the importance of working with your manufacturer. The manufacturers of the various pieces of harvest equipment are typically on top of these opportunities because it’s good business for them as well to be able to sell equipment. They can probably help you stay on top of that.”
Listen to William’s full interview below.
You can find the latest episodes by searching “Almond Journey” wherever you get your podcasts and online at Almonds.com.