As an almond farmer, you’re familiar with harvest dust production. When your machine collects the nuts, fans blow away excess dirt and debris — it’s part of the process and has been for a long time. However, California’s Almond Board has set new regulations and goals for controlling dust pollution. From now on, you’ll have to do things a little differently. But there’s no need for stress — you can comply with dust limitations with a few slight adjustments.
Switching up your processes and using the latest technology will allow you to keep up with the changing industry. What’s more, these adjustments can save you time, money and energy in the long term by making each harvest as efficient as possible. Even if the new dust regulations are not quite welcome, they may help you improve your almond orchard. Learn how you can reduce dust kick-up while enhancing your harvest.
What Is the Clean Air Act?
These dust control measures stem from the federal Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act, first signed in 1970, sets the United State’s standard for air quality control. It allows federal and state governments to create regulations for limiting air pollution. The main goal of the act is to protect public health and welfare by limiting air pollution. Since its first signing, the Clean Air Act’s amendments have given the government greater authority and greater responsibility. Each state has implemented its own laws and standards to reduce air pollution.
These efforts led to the creation of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is California’s main clean air agency. The Almond Board of California adheres to the regulations created by CARB and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As an almond farmer, you have to follow these agencies’ standards and regulations.
What Does the Clean Air Act Mean for Almond Farmers?
Since almond harvesting produces a great deal of dust, it’s been a key target for the Environmental Protection Agency and CARB. In response, the Almond Board of California has set a goal to cut particulate matter pollution in half by 2025. It’s an ambitious goal, but the Board thinks it’s achievable. How does it affect you as an almond farmer? The dust-reduction goal may require you to:
- Purchase new equipment: New technology has led to dust-reducing equipment. You may need to invest in new equipment in order to reach your dust-reducing goals.
- Change your processes: You might also have to change your processes to keep pollution at a minimum. You may need to take extra precautions or adjust your harvest route.
- Slow your harvest speed: Although it’s tempting to harvest as fast as possible, you may have to plan for slower speeds to decrease dust production. A clean air almond harvester will allow you to maintain a quicker harvest.
While the dust reduction goals pose a financial and practical burden for almond farmers, following dust-reducing tips can help you improve your efficiency.
Tips for Reducing Almond Harvest Dust
Several methods can help you produce as little dust as possible during your harvest. Try the following tips for how to avoid almond harvest dust:
1. Make Sure Your Orchard Floors Are Clean
Step one is to maintain clean orchard floors. That means consistent weed control, removing settled crowns and filling holes to keep nuts from getting stuck. A clean orchard floor will make your job easier come harvest time. You’ll be less likely to leave nuts behind, which means fewer passes and less dust.
2. Plan Out Your Harvest Routes
Another way to reduce dust production is to plan out your harvest route. Draw your route to direct dust away from roads, homes, schools and other sensitive areas, placing traffic signs to warn passing vehicles. The Almond Board suggests using trees as a natural buffer to catch some of the dust.
3. Go Slow to Reduce Dust
Harvesting slower is another way to minimize dust kick-up. Going slow and steady will allow you to capture everything the first time, rather than having to go over the same areas multiple times. Even when you’re in a time crunch, keeping an even pace will make your harvest more efficient.
The Almond Board notes that slowing your speed from 3 miles per hour to 1.5 miles per hour can reduce dust production by 50%. You’ll find taking it slow also decreases worker fatigue and puts less burden on your equipment. Although it may be tough to slow down, it’s worth doing.
4. Adjust Ground Speed Based on Ground Conditions
Adjust your ground speed depending on the ground conditions, which vary from one orchard to the next and throughout the harvest season. Going slower will help you maintain an even harvest over various ground conditions. For example, loose soil calls for slower harvesting, which gives gravity a chance to separate the dirt from the crop. Relying less on your fans for crop separation will result in less dust.
5. Improve Your Equipment
One of the most important things you can do is invest in better equipment. Newer machines create less dust thanks to technological improvements. For example, the CA5 Clean Air Nut Harvester uses a patented drum to separate almonds from dirt and debris.
The drum is so effective that the hydraulic blower is not always necessary — you can harvest in normal conditions with the fans turned off. The American-made CA5 allows you to harvest without sacrificing speed, creating a more efficient harvest. Investing in the best equipment will let you meet dust-reduction goals while skyrocketing your efficiency.
Contact Your Local Pequea Dealer
Efforts to minimize air pollution have resulted in unfamiliar obstacles for almond farmers. These new regulations might be a source of frustration, but all you’ll need to do is make a few slight adjustments. Maintaining clean orchard floors, being mindful about your harvest path and keeping a slower pace will help you kick up a lot less dust. The easiest way to reduce your dust production is to invest in the best equipment.
If you need a low-dust almond harvester, consider Pequea’s CA5. It uses state-of-the-art technology to separate almonds from debris without kicking out excessive dust. It relies on specialized drums rather than fans, which means you can run it in normal conditions without using the blower at all. One of the main advantages of the CA5 is that it lets you harvest faster while meeting dust-reduction goals.
At Pequea, we’re a family-owned business offering top-quality American-made equipment. We specialize in meeting farmers’ needs and exceeding expectations. If you’re interested in improving your harvest efficiency and meeting dust-reduction goals with the CA5, find an authorized Pequea dealer near you.