Peanut farmers know that caring for the land and investing in conservation and sustainable practices means investing in their future and their children.

The Crop

Peanuts—from the roots to the hulls—have several environmental benefits compared to other nuts. For starters, peanuts require significantly less water. It takes 3.2 gallons of water to grow one ounce of peanuts, but it takes more than 28.7 gallons to grow the same amount of almonds*. Peanut plants also have the ability to improve soil health as they’re nitrogen fixing, which means they take nitrogen from the air and produce their own in the ground, which reduces reliance on synthetic fertilizers. Lastly, as peanuts are harvested, they are separated from the green, vine-like plants from which they grow. Instead of letting that organic matter go to waste, many peanut farmers use those plant byproducts as a source of fertilizer for subsequent crops. And, what about the hulls – those fibrous, crunchy shells that house the kernels? Well, some companies are experimenting with the ability of turning the shells into pellets, which can be used for biofuel to produce energy, soil additives, and more!

George Washington Carver, a pioneer in agriculture research, changed the game for our industry. He educated farmers in the South that changing their practice of only growing cotton in their fields (known as monoculture) to adding peanuts into the planting rotation, there would be much greater environmental benefits. Peanuts’ ability to add nitrogen to the soil not only returns nutrients that the other crops were depleting, but also leads to a better cotton harvest. Many peanut growers also grow cotton!

*Source: CA Department of Food and Agriculture; Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN; Mekonnen, M.M., University of Alabama; and USDA Limitations include the quality and availability of data.

The Sustainable U.S. Peanuts Initiative

Knowing consumers are curious where and how their food is grown, and having awareness about the environmental impact of the food they purchase, the industry came together to form The Sustainable U.S. Peanuts Initiative in 2021. Led by the American Peanut Council (APC), a non-profit, membership organization that represents all segments of the U.S. peanut industry, NPB was a founding member and has collaborated on this initiative to document and track peanut growers’ production practices to better understand the crop’s environmental footprint. One of the objectives is to help peanut growers estimate and understand their environmental impact and share ways to reduce it over time.

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