1 Jul 2011

Single kiwifruit needs 42 litres of water, study shows

3:45 pm on 1 July 2011

Scientists have found that it takes more than 42 litres of water to produce one green kiwifruit.

They have recorded the Hayward variety's water footprint, which is the total amount of water needed to grow the fruit.

The study is the first of its kind in New Zealand and was completed by scientists from Landcare and Plant and Food Research and AgriLink. It was funded by kiwifruit marketer Zespri and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Project leader Anthony Hume from Landcare says that of the 42 litres of water required to produce a single kiwifruit, two litres come from irrigation, two from diluting fertiliser and the majority directly from rainwater.

"It's very difficult to make appropriate comparisons because water footprinting is an emerging methodology - it's only really come about in the last 10 years.

"The key factor there is using mostly rainwater and not a lot of water from irrigated sources."

Dr Hume says water footprinting is emerging as a strong marketing tool.

Zespri quality and innovation manager David Tanner says the company will use these results to better understand water use in the industry and it will look to reduce the 42-litre figure.

Dr Tanner says Zespri aims to ''water-footprint'' all of its varieties grown in New Zealand and overseas.