8c259d749dffa7074c0f6a70670000a5With California’s agricultural heartland entrenched in drought, almond farmers are letting orchards dry up and in some cases making the tough call to have their trees torn out of the ground, leaving behind empty fields. In California’s Central Valley, Barry Baker is one of many who hired a crew that brought in large rumbling equipment to perform the grim task in a cloud of dust. A tractor operator drove heavy steel shanks into the ground to loosen the roots and knock the trees over. Another operator, driving a brush loader equipped with a fork-like implement on the front, scooped up the trees and root balls and pushed them into a pile, where an excavator driver grabbed them up in clusters with a clawing grapple. The trees were fed into a grinder that spit wood chips into piles to be hauled away by the truckload and burned as fuel in a power plant. More