By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ag Tour Highlights Innovation Success

A Friday, Aug. 25 tour of two San Joaquin Valley farms demonstrated the valley Air Pollution Control District’s and local agricultural communities’ commitment to achieving sustainable agricultural practices especially on smaller farming operations.

The tour visited a Fresno area farm to demonstrate the Hammel vineyard chipping equipment funded in part through the Air District’s Ag Burn Alternatives Grant Program. The equipment is unique as it can fully chip vineyard material that contains imbedded wire and stakes reducing the laborious process of hand removal. This grant program incentivizes open burning alternatives in preparation for the Jan. 1, 2025 near complete phase out of agricultural open burning in the Valley.

The tour also visited a Kerman area farm to demonstrate the Tenias low-dust nut harvester equipment, which is a shaker/sweeper combination unit that shakes the almonds into a catcher, and then drops the nuts into windrows in one pass. This equipment, incentivized by the Valley Air District through the Low Dust Nut Harvester grant program, is pivotal in reducing localized air quality impacts stemming from nut harvesting.

Highlighting the effectiveness and success of such programs, prominent leaders from the Valley’s agricultural sector, including the Nisei Farmers League, California Cotton Ginners Association, Western Agricultural Processors Association, Fresno County Farm Bureau, and other ag groups, provided the tour to state and local officials, from U.S. EPA-Region 9, CARB, USDA-NRCS, and representatives from state and federal elected officials.

“Given that the agricultural community is key in helping the Valley meet clean air goals, these programs must remain relevant and responsive to the needs in the field,” stated Stanislaus County Supervisor and Air District Governing Board Chair Vito Chiesa. “We must ensure all farmers, especially small farmers, have an opportunity to receive Air District funding to replace their dirty equipment and practices with effective, cleaner options.”

Through these and other joint efforts over 12,500 old high-polluting agricultural pieces of equipment have been replaced and the open burning of over 194,000 acres (nearly 5,400,000 tons of woody waste) has been eliminated through non-burning alternative practices including chipping and soil incorporation.

“Agriculture has helped to clean up the Valley air,” stated Manuel Cunha Jr. President of the Nisei Farmers League. “We are showing elected officials and federal and state agencies the innovative technology currently being used in the fields to reduce particulate matter, especially in almond harvesting activities. The agriculture community is continuing to look at new technologies to help further reduce emissions from its activities.”

The Air District also offers a variety of programs to support Valley residents, businesses, and public agencies with cleaner equipment, vehicles, and practices. Visit or call the grants team at 559-230-5800 for more information.

The Valley Air District covers eight counties including San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and San Joaquin Valley air basin portions of Kern. For additional information about the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, visit or call 559-230-6000.