Sustainability has been, and will continue to be, an ongoing priority for the nut industry.

We are very mindful of our stewardship role of the planet’s finite resources. Like other agricultural industries, the nut industry is dependent on natural resources, so makes every effort to use them wisely.

Nut trees are part of the lungs of our country. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, store carbon, and release oxygen into the air 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In 2015, the United Nations set out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ‘promote prosperity while protecting the planet’ [1].

Acknowledging that some of the SDGs are more relevant than others to the Australian horticultural industry, the Australian-grown Horticulture Sustainability Framework [2] mapped the material topics to the SDGs, into four goals and indicators:

  • Nourish and Nurture
  • People and Enterprise
  • Planet and Resources
  • Climate and Waste

We’re constantly evolving how we do things, working within these four goals.

Australia is recognised internationally as a ‘clean and green’ producer of nuts [3].

This reputation is based on significant research and development investment across all sectors of the industry – resulting in world-leading practice in new varietal development, water efficiencies, nutrition, biological controls, harvesting and post-harvest [3].

Differences in landscape types and production systems contribute to differing sustainability challenges faced by each nut industry.

The nut industry balances the use of natural resources by producing a nutrient-dense, whole food that benefits human health.

Sustainability in the nut industry

Neutralising carbon emissions

  • Nut trees help reduce cardon dioxide in the atmosphere. They hold (or sequester) considerably more carbon than other crops, both above and below the ground.
  • Nut growers have modified production to be more energy efficient.
  • Many nut processing facilities (for shelling, cracking, drying, and packing nuts) in Australia are located within growing regions, minimising carbon emissions from transport.

Did you know? The average Australian macadamia orchard removes more than 14.5 tonnes of carbon per hectare from the atmosphere over a year.

Careful water use

  • Water can be a significant cost to nut growers, so they ensure that every drop is put to good use.
  • Nut growers use the latest irrigation management technology to tailor water use to an orchard’s specific needs – based on factors like soil moisture levels.
  • Nut trees can manage their own transpiration, making them an extremely water efficient crop.

Did you know? Australian almond growers are leaders in the use of precision irrigation technology, with 99% of orchards using drip irrigation systems.

Supporting soil health

  • Nut growers work to improve soil health in their orchards and fields. Reusing organic matter, like shells, husks, and prunings, is a well-established practice.
  • As perennial crops, nut trees provide year-round soil coverage, which helps protect against soil degradation and erosion.
  • Farms use ‘whole orchard recycling’ – a process where nut trees at the end of their life cycle are mulched and returned to the orchard floor.

Healthy soil is the key to healthy trees, and only healthy trees produce the highest quality nuts.

Protecting biodiversity

  • It’s not unusual for nut growers to set aside a portion of their farm as a conversation zone. This increases biodiversity (and makes the land more resilient to both drought and heavy rain).
  • Many growers plant diverse crops or vegetation alongside nut trees, bringing balance to the natural environment and fostering beneficial insects.
  • Nut growers help protect, preserve, and promote pollinator health.

Did you know? The Australian peanut industry is investing in research and development of new peanut varieties to support Australian growers, ensuring sustainability and growth of the industry, particularly in times of drought.


  1. UN General Assembly, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015, A/RES/70/1. Available from:
  2. Hort Innovation. Australian-Grown Horticulture Sustainability Framework. 2021. Available from: 2021.
  3. Australian Nut Industry Council. Growing for Success - towards 2030. 2022. Available from:

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