There is a lot of concern on social media regarding the environmental impacts of avocados particularly regarding water. Much of this originates from Mexico where it does appear that native forests are being removed for avocados. The situation is very different in Australia, particularly at Avowest. Avocados are a high-water use crop. We cannot get away from this fundamental aspect of their physiology. At Avowest we are highly aware of the importance of water both socially and environmentally. Rather than hiding from the high-water use of avocados we have embraced the challenge of using water more efficiently.
Links to Part 2 and Part 3 of this article are at bottom of page.
How “wasted” is water loss to the air?
Research at the Centre for Water Research, University of Western Australia conclusively showed that the clearing of South West forests between 1960 and 1980 had caused a direct reduction in rainfall of around 15 per cent at Mundaring Weir – an important source of drinking water for West Australians. It also showed a decline in Wheatbelt winter rainfall relative to rainfall on the coast also started around 1960.
Trees are giant water fountains. A single tree typically transpires hundreds of litres of water a day. Transpiration is a process by which growing trees take water from the ground and release it into the atmosphere through their leaves. What is becoming apparent is that transpiration is a major source of water to the atmosphere, and is responsible for around half of all precipitation, says Scott Jasechko at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“Transpiration moves more water than all the world’s rivers combined”(cited from New Scientist, 30th October, 2019).
Avocados transpire a lot of water. How “wasted” is this when inland areas of Western Australia are drying because of removal of forests. The world needs more trees both to maintain rainfall patterns and to sequester CO2. We believe that even avocado trees have a role to play in this.