The California Almond Stewardship Platform (CASP) led by the Almond Board of California (ABC) has been improved to better meet the needs of industry members. The online CASP system uses aggregated grower data to keep the industry at large informed on sustainable production practices and encourages broader adoption. Senior Manager of ABC’s Field Outreach & Education Team, Tom Devol said the program had gotten a bit complicated over the years. ABC evaluated feedback from growers, which lead to some changes being made.
“The process used to take five to six hours to complete,” Devol explained. “I just worked with a grower that completed it in an hour and a half from start to finish. So, you can see, for a time commitment from the grower, it’s much quicker to get in and much more user-friendly.”
The number of questions has been effectively cut in half. Questions are also now grouped together for better long-term experience with the CASP system. By participating in the online system growers can compare their practices to industry averages and automatically meet a variety of regulatory requirements. Tools available through CASP also help growers calculate nitrogen needs and orchard irrigation scheduling. Devol said they recommend that growers update their practices in the CASP system every three years, “because really it’s a continuous improvement program if you think about it.”
The aggregated self-assessment data in the CASP system serves as an important tool for handlers as well. Devol noted that CASP was first envisioned as a predominately educational resource, but market pressures allowed it to become more. Questions related to sustainability and stewardship began being asked more frequently by buyers. The CASP data can be used to illustrate how almond growers are farming responsibly and efficiently.
“The growers aren’t selling the crop directly to the buyer, it’s their handler that’s doing it on their behalf. So, they’re the ones being hit with those questions. So, it really does help them,” Devol explained. “You’re essentially, by completing your grower self-assessment, you’re assisting your handler in marketing your product.”
Listen to Duvol’s interview below.