Did you know that growing almonds is a good use of water? That’s right – new research published in the Journal of Ecological Indicators affirms that almonds rank among the most valuable foods grown in California in terms of the dietary and economic benefits for the water needed to produce them. What’s more, research has also found that the water footprint of almonds grown in California is smaller1 than a global average originally reported.2
Research around water footprint is crucial to the California almond community’s sustainability journey and helping better understand opportunities for further improvement, according to Richard Waycott, Almond Board of California President and CEO.
While water footprint research serves as a great foundation for continuous improvement, it is a theoretical approach based on modeling, including the maximum water needed to grow almond trees. In practice, almond farmers report using about 25 percent less water than models show.3 Thanks to research-based farming improvements and the adoption of water-saving technology, California almond farmers have reduced the amount of water it takes to grow one pound of almonds by 33 percent over the past 20 years.4
What’s more almond farmers grow four crops per drop of water they use: the almond kernel we love to eat, hulls, shells and the tree itself. Almond farmers recycle these coproducts, which can offset some of almonds’ water footprint.
1Fulton, et al. Water-Indexed Benefits and Impacts of California Almonds. Journal of Ecological Indicators. Apr. 2018.
2Mekonnen, M., & Hoekstra, A. The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Crops and Derived Crop Products. UNESCO – IHE Institute for Water Education. 2010.
3California Almond Sustainability Program. Jan. 2018.
4University of California, 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012. Almond Board of California, 1990- 94, 2000-14.