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Past Issues

Almond Sustainability Program Offers Nitrogen Budgeting Tool
Raw numbers from April leaf samples help tell the story of
how much nitrogen trees need. Growers can enter their own
information into an N budgeting model online, made available
through the California Almond Sustainability Program.

The Almond Sustainability Report released at last year’s Almond Conference reveals that nutrient and irrigation management efficiencies have a significant impact on air quality and energy in addition to nutrient management and water quality and supply. It also points out that such practices are being used by more than 70% of growers who have participated in the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP).

Almond growers seeking to further improve those efficiencies, as well as comply with increasing regulation surrounding the use of nitrogen fertilizer, attended workshops at The Almond Conference on nutrient management and budgeting to learn more about applying the right source of nitrogen in the right place, at the right rate and at the right time.

The interactive workshops offered growers a walk-through of a newly developed nitrogen management budgeting model by UC Davis pomologist Patrick Brown that aims to help growers better balance the nitrogen applied during the season with the amount needed by the crop.

“Growers need to know how much [nitrogen] the almond tree requires, when it is required, and how to get it on the field as efficiently as possible,” Brown said.

This information becomes more important as growers are required to account for all nitrogen applied in the field as part of nitrogen management plan mandates coming soon through the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.

The budgeting model is available online at the California Almond Sustainability Program website,

Growers enter information on orchard configuration and production, along with nitrogen credits from nitrate in irrigation water, cover crops, compost and other sources. They also enter either raw numbers from leaf samples in April, or correlated predicted July numbers, to get a total nitrogen fertilizer recommendation along with recommended amounts by crop growth stage.

Almond growers who participate in CASP, and thus have CASP usernames and passwords, can save data and return to their budget for future updating, or clone budget components among orchards and years. All almond growers can utilize the online model to create budgets, but must be participants in CASP for the data storage aspect, which saves the need to reenter all the data when revising the budgets, as recommended, during the growing season. Data can be printed or displayed as a PDF file or exported into a database.

Listen to Patrick Brown, professor of plant sciences at UC Davis, discuss the importance of early season leaf sampling for determining in-season nitrogen applications.

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