California is one of just five places on Earth that almonds can grow. Because we farm this nutrient-dense, plant-based food in a water -limited environment, it’s our responsibility to use this precious resource in the most sustainable way possible. So while you are snacking on those nutritious nuts or enjoying your next almond milk latte, rest assured California’s almond farmers are working hard to not only optimize their practices, but also do so in a changing climate.
Vox recently wrote about some of the solutions that almond farmers are pioneering in water use efficiency and sustainable farming practices. It starts with this key figure: between the 1990s and 2010s, we have reduced the amount water used to grow each almond by 33 percent with improved production practices and adoption of efficient microirrigation technology. And now, 85% of California almond farms use microirrigation , nearly two times the rate of the California farms overall.
Dave Phippen, a third-generation almond farmer, was interviewed by Vox about his water conservation efforts.. Dave reflects on how water was used in the past, before water saving technology like microirrigation was more widely used. “My father used to irrigate every 30 days because that’s when the irrigation district offered water. When my brother and I took over the operations in the mid-70s … we irrigated by the calendar, just like dad did,” says Phippen. “Now with CIMIS (California Irrigation Management System) ... we’re learning what yesterday’s evaporation loss was. So basically, you had an almond tree out in the orchard and it used this much, and we can record that. It used to be countywide we’d get that information. Now we get it localized to our individual field sites.”