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Almond industry cracks market for orchard byproducts | News – Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California 2021-07-31 20:00:00 –

The most valuable part of the almond tree is still nuts. But the rest is slowly catching up.

By-products that were once burned outdoors (seashells, hulls, wood itself) are a greater focus for the industry as it seeks to improve its environmental footprint while at the same time opening up new markets for the diverse bounty of marketable products. It is becoming.

Most recently, US and Chinese trade negotiators have recently reached a breakthrough that will allow domestic almond processors to begin selling pelletized or cubic hulls to China as animal feed.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs and researchers use almond by-products to fortify plastics, promote plant growth, control pests, filter water, retain more water in soil, and even store hydrogen energy. We are working on scalable technology.

On top of that, the benefits of carbon sequestration of whole orchard recycling and perhaps almond biochar burial have raised expectations within the industry that producers may soon harvest climate subsidies.

“The choice is good for farmers,” said Kent Stenderup, a farmer in the Irvine region, who chairs the Almond Commission in California. He said it was very exciting to see that there were emerging markets for various by-products.

Added value

Suddenly no almond by-products are being used. For years, dairy cows have eaten the hulls, and the shells often serve as bedding for livestock. However, new and potentially more valuable uses are emerging.

Note that corn makes up only 30 percent of the biomass that comes out of the almond tree. 50% are hulls, now more valuable products with rising feed prices, and 20% are shells, one of the cheapest ag products in the Central Valley.

It does not include the equivalent of 30-50 tonnes of wood-based material per acre approximately every 25 years.

Producers were able to call a timber carrier who could recover the cost by selling it as a raw material to a local power plant. However, many of these factories have been closed around the Central Valley, and farmers have recently revisited practices that many were skeptical of.

According to a study sponsored by the Almond Commission, growers can increase yields by 19% by chopping old trees, spreading them around orchards, and using machines to return the material to the soil. It is called recycling the entire orchard.

It not only reintroduces the necessary minerals and helps the orchard retain water, but also stores carbon underground. Many in the industry want carbon credits to be traded in the open market one day, providing almond producers with a new source of income.

Trade news

Good news for hull marketers arrived on June 10 and announced that the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has agreed to a protocol that would allow the US export of processed hulls to China, a major importer of animal feed. ..

The United States produces £ 4.5 billion a year in hulls, which provides significant nutritional value. The Almond Commission’s Vice President of Technology and Regulatory Affairs said that breakthroughs in trade would add value to producers.

“It also helps the almond industry reach its goals for Almond Orchard 2025 at Zero Waste. Finding a higher value solution for the hull is our way to optimally use everything that has grown. It’s in line with our efforts, “said Julie Adams. news release.

Guangwei Huang, Deputy Director of Food Research and Technology of the Almond Commission, states that biochar is another part of the equation for monetizing almond by-products.

This material is made by burning almond by-products, usually wood, without oxygen. It can be used to fill carbon, increase the water retention capacity of the soil, and filter water if treated.

Car interior

He said almond shells, when heated to a certain temperature, become a material that improves the stability of recycled plastics. Ford Motor Company is considering adding treated almond shells to the plastic inside the car, Mr. Huang said.

“This is an area where we do a lot of research,” he said.

The unique porosity of almond shells also makes it a strong competitor for safe storage in the field of hydrogen energy, Fan said.

The hull also offers new opportunities. If properly disinfected, it can serve as a material for mushroom cultivation.

Richard Weycott, chairman of the board of directors of Almond, said he occasionally hears from Silicon Valley-type companies working on new technologies for using almond by-products. He hopes the results will ultimately benefit the farmers.

This is certainly a big part of the idea behind Corigin, an early-stage biochemical startup based in Merced and funded by about 12 employees.

Product menu

The company buys almond shells cheaply and uses the intellectual property it bought a few years ago to turn them into separate products: the liquid corrigin market as biochars, plant growth promoters and pest repellents. , Heavy oil with several potential uses, and gas used by corrigin to maintain its biorefining process.

Corigin will put its first plant up and running in March, processing a ton of shells this year and planning four to five times that amount next year. He said the company has the technology to extend the process around the world using not only almond husks, but also forestry waste, rice husks, palm oil and coconut waste.

But for now, the focus of Korigin remains on the almond shell.

“We like almond shells because they have so many almond shells and they are really cheap,” said founder Mike Wolk.

Almond industry cracks market for orchard byproducts | News Source link Almond industry cracks market for orchard byproducts | News

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