Peanuts are a sustainable crop because of their nitrogen-fixing properties that benefit soil and other crops. Now researchers are recommending that farmers plant sod in rotation with peanuts to further improve the sustainability of the land, and the health of America’s favorite nut. During the Georgia Peanut Tour Hot Topics seminar, sustainability efforts of the peanut industry were presented to attendees.
David Prybylowski, sustainability consultant for the American Peanut Council, provided an update on the peanut industry’s initiatives regarding sustainability. According to Prybylowski, meeting the needs of the present while improving the ability of future generations to meet their own needs by increasing productivity, improving the environment and improving profitability for growers. Simply put, getting more peanuts from the same or less inputs.
Prybylowski shared a crop comparison water footprint of shelled peanuts versus shelled almonds, walnuts and pistachios. Shelled peanuts utilize 4.7 gallons of water per ounce while almonds use 80.4 gallons of water per ounce, walnuts use 73.5 gallons of water per ounce and pistachios use 16.8 gallons of water per ounce.
Even with this outstanding data on water usage, the peanut industry is still working towards measuring sustainability as the science continues to advance. In fact, Georgia has brought together farmers, researchers and other industry representatives in a pilot project through the Georgia Peanut Sustainability Initiative. According to Marshall Lamb, committee member of the Georgia Peanut Sustainability Initiative, the initiative plans to gather initial farm-level data on sustainability efforts to help provide data to better understand the efficiency, conservation and economic returns to producers. Additional projects include development of education and outreach programs to help peanut producers and continue to educate consumers with sustainability messaging.