Almonds For Water Purification?

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Could marketing almond shell carbon as a means for water purification be another boon for growers? That is what Craig Ledbetter, a geneticist at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Crop Diseases, Pests and Genetics Research Unit near Parlier, CA, has been working with Thomas Klasson, research leader at ARS’s Commodity Research Unit in New Orleans, LA, to find out.

Though more than 1.3 billion pounds of almond meat is produced every year in California, most of the almond shells from those nuts go to waste. Ledbetter and Klasson have been working together for the past two years to see whether this unused almond-shell carbon could be used in municipal city granular activated carbon (GAC) vessels, which are used to adsorb agricultural nematicides and other hazardous chemicals threatening the area’s water supply. Fresno has 35 GAC sites alone, each using a minimum of 20,000 pounds of granulated carbon. In laboratory testing, almond-shell carbons have proven to adsorb certain chemicals as well as coal-based carbons, according to Ledbetter.

“While we have demonstrated the adsorptive capacity of almond shell GAC in the lab, it has not been tested on actual contaminated water streams,” he says. “We are currently in the process of setting up a pilot study using contaminated groundwater. If this planned research is successful, there are several other hurdles to clear, including regulatory tests that must be conducted prior to usage of any new products in municipal water.”

To learn about self-pollinating almond trees, click here.

Laura Drotleff is managing editor of Greenhouse Grower and Today's Garden Center.

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