Blue Diamond Almond Facts July-August 2022

4. Keeping living roots in the soil as much as possible Having living roots in the soil ensures that fields are never bare. It can be done by farming practices such as planting winter cover crops or having land in permanent pasture. Keeping living roots in the soil aids in stabilizing the soil, retaining excess water and nutrient runoff.

habitat for birds and insects (especially pollinators and beneficials). Cover cropping that also benefits pollinators, such as that used by many of our member farms, has great alignment with regenerative agriculture. If there truly isn’t enough water available for cover cropping, a diverse perennial hedgerow for pollinators next to the orchard is another option for increasing biodiversity. 4. A combination of a non-tilled, perennial almond orchard and cover cropping or resident vegetation also serves to address the fourth principle of keeping living roots in the soil year round as much as possible. Research increasingly shows that the soil microbes become more diverse and resilient from the year-round presence of

5. Integrate animals into the farm as much as possible

Manure produced by livestock can add valuable nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for fertilizers, and increasing soil organic matter. Healthy soils capture large amounts of carbon and water and reduce the amount of polluted runoff.

(Source: Sudan Smith, save-the-bay/2021/08/what-is- regenerative-agriculture-and-why-is- it-re-emerging-now.html)

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Let’s think about each of these in the context of almonds: 1. The first principle is not hard for almond farms — most almond farms stopped tilling 40 years ago. Minimal soil disturbance ? Check. 2. The second is harder for some. Herbicide companies still often advocate a fully weed-free orchard floor. Of course, many almond orchards maintain just a weed free tree strip and leave resident vegetation in the row middles. But to be considered regenerative, an almond orchard likely needs to have as much vegetation in the middles as possible. A cover crop is ideal. 3. Cover cropping also addresses the third ideal — increasing plant diversity. Regenerative advocates are concerned about the loss of

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