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Everything You Get with a Handful of Almonds: Climate-Smart Farming and Nutrition

How Is Almond Farming Sustainable? Dive into how almonds fit into simple, sustainable lifestyles as a responsible grown food and ingredient.


California almonds are a responsibly grown, zero-waste food and a crop whose water is responsibly managed. With a well-rounded nutrient profile and a long shelf life, almonds are an ideal snack and food ingredient.

Check out this infographic or keep scrolling to learn more about everything you get with a handful of almonds.

Getting the Most Out of Every Drop

When it comes to almond farming and water use, it’s important to know that almond orchards provide four crops for every drop. Water used to grow almonds actually grows four products: the kernel you eat, which grows in a shell, protected by a hull, on a tree that is typically productive for 20-25 years.

Did you know these facts about almonds and water efficiency?
  • Almond farmers have reduced the amount of water used to grow each pound of almonds by 33% since the 1990s, through the adoption of water saving technology such as drip irrigation.1
  • In 2018, they set a goal of an additional 20% reduction of water by 2025 and, as of 2022, had already achieved three-quarters of that goal.²
  • With almonds, nothing goes to waste. The trees store carbon and can be transformed to electricity, or ground up to feed the soil at the end of their lives. The shells become livestock bedding. The hulls are nutritious dairy feed, offsetting the water needed to grow other feed crops like alfalfa.

Climate Smart Farming and Biodiversity

Practices like whole orchard recycling, cover crops, and no till farming create regenerative systems and build back biodiversity in almond orchards.

Almond Trees Store a Lot of Carbon.

Almond trees capture and store carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, in the wood and the roots. This storage accumulates as the tree grows, which supports reducing emissions and environmental impact. When you look at carbon stored in all the almond trees growing in California in 2022 (1.62 million acres), this equates to 30 million metric tons of stored carbon.7 This is equivalent to the annual emissions of:

  • 24 million cars8
  • 3,134 Boeing 737s9
  • 29 coal-fired power plants8

And, compared to other fruit and nut trees grown in California, almonds store one of the highest amounts of carbon per acre. An acre of California almond trees captures and stores 18 metric tons of carbon annually7— each one equal to removing 15 cars from the road each year.8 A UC Davis lifecycle analysis found that almonds have a lower carbon footprint than many other foods (1.9kgCO2e.)10

Whole Orchard Recycling and Composting Extend Carbon Sequestration

Almonds are a no-till environment for their 20 to 25-year lifespan. At the end of their productive lives, a new practice is for whole almond trees to be ground up and incorporated back into the soil, extending carbon sequestration by storing it in the soil.11 Since the practice was introduced in 2017, nearly half of almond growers replanting their orchards have adopted this new practice.12 Farms that use whole orchard recycling sequester 2.4 tons of carbon per acre,11 equivalent to living car-free for a year.13

What are the benefits of whole orchard recycling? It helps farmers and the environment by:

  • Increasing soil organic matter by 42%11
  • Increasing water holding capacity by 32%11
  • Increasing orchard cumulative yield over 5 years by 19%11

Composting also adds carbon back into the soil— over 30% of orchards have added compost since 2019.12

Almond Orchards Build Biodiversity with Cover Crops

Cover crops are important for soil quality, pest management and insect biodiversity. 40% of orchards had cover crops in 2021, almost half a million acres.12

More than 170,000 acres of almond farms are Bee Friendly certified through the Pollinator Partnership. This represents 86% of all Bee-Friendly certified U.S. Farms.14

California almond farmers are on track to increase the use of environmentally friendly pest management practices by 25% by 2025.2

Did you know these facts about the California almond industry?
  • California is only 1 of 5 Mediterranean climates on earth, essential to growing almonds.
  • California’s growing environment is one of the most regulated in the world, with strict laws protecting the environment, worker and food safety.
  • There are 7,600 almond farmers in California: 90% are family farms, and 70% of orchards are 100 acres or less.15

Almonds Provide Nutrition and a Long Shelf Life

Ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin.16 In the chart below, comparing an ounce (28g) of almonds to the same weight of other popular recommended foods reveals where almonds may be a more efficient way to consume certain nutrients.

America throws away nearly 60 million tons of food every year—that’s almost 40% of the entire U.S. food supply.17 Almonds are a shelf stable food. Less than 1% of almonds are thrown out in the home, and they can last up to two years in your pantry.18

California almonds are a low carbon, low waste and water-efficient ingredient that consumers crave and you can feel good about.

¹ University of California, 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012. Almond Board of California, 1990-94, 2000-14.


² CASP Almond Orchard 2025 Goals MidPoint, SureHarvest, November 2022


³ UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 2020 Sample Cost Study Alfalfa Hay and Organic Alfalfa Hay


⁴ Phinizy Center for Water Sciences, 2023. An Olympic size swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons.


⁵ Environmental Protection Agency. How We Use Water, 2023. The average US household uses 109,500 gallons annually.


⁶ Lake Lubbers, 2023. Clear Lake’s water volume is 1.16 million acre-feet or 376 billion gallons.


⁷ California Air Resources Board. An Inventory of Ecosystem Carbon in California's Natural & Working Lands. 2018 Edition (Updated 2020), p. 41


⁸ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. July 2023.


⁹ Reuters. Boeing jets emissions data highlights industry's green challenge. April 2021. Assumes industry average 25-year operable lifespan.


¹⁰ A scalable and spatiotemporally resolved agricultural life cycle assessment of California almonds Elias Marvinney, Alissa Kendall


¹¹ Emad Jahanzad, et al. Orchard recycling improves climate change adaptation and mitigation potential of almond production systems. PLoS ONE. March 2020


¹² California Almond Stewardship Platform, 2022


¹³ Seth Wynes, et al. The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environmental Research Letters.


¹⁴ Pollinator Partnership


¹⁵ United States Department of Agriculture. 2017 Census of Agriculture.


¹⁶ U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28, 2015:


¹⁷ USDA Economic Research Service


¹⁸ United States Department of Agriculture