Conserving water is essential to feeding the world

conserves water
© Julian Gazzard

Here, David Green, executive director of the US Sustainability Alliance told us, that saving water is important for feeding the world.

One word seems to capture universal concern – water. There is either more water from devastating floods or less from devastating droughts, which scientists say will get worse and worse as temperatures rise. continue to rise, intensifying our need to conserve water.

Agriculture is assessed for its use and water insecurity – an OECD initiative (1) and 70% of the world’s water is used for irrigation. Such things lead to strong criticism of what farmers want for this precious resource, but this ignores the fact that irrigation is necessary to produce food. Without it, food security is at risk.

As the global population increases, the demand for clean water for crop production will only rise, with some estimates predicting the need for a 50% increase in resources. In fact, growing crops faces many challenges, including the effects of soil erosion and degradation, desertification, and salinization. But it is in water conservation and efficiency that farmers, scientists, and governments pay much attention.

Protects water quality

In the United States, water resources management is primarily handled at the state level, except for some large federally funded watershed projects. There are also a number of laws and policies to protect water quality, including from runoff and pollution, such as a recent $20.5 grant to help state or tribal governments establish temporary bridge programs to protect water resources. .(2)

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Clean Water Act (3), first issued in 1948, regulates the discharge of pollutants and quality standards for surface water. Agriculture Bill 2018 (4) allows irrigation districts, irrigation associations and watershed districts to participate in environmental quality improvement programs (EQIP) for water conservation or efficiency practices.

Conserving water on farms

On the surface of the garden, many methods (5) It is widely accepted, like drip irrigation, where the system delivers water directly to the plant roots, reducing the emissions that come from the irrigation system. This can lead to saving 80% of water over irrigation systems. Some farms have built ponds or ponds to capture and store rainwater for use throughout the year and avoid using groundwater.

Elsewhere, smart water management of the irrigation system includes monitoring the weather forecast, as well as the soil and plants, and adapting the irrigation system to the prevailing conditions. For ranchers, rotational grazing, where crops are moved between fields to help promote grazing, help increase field water absorption and reduce runoff, does as the pasture is more resistant to rain and conserves water.

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From crops to whole orchards

Crop farmers in the United States are increasingly using crops to protect soil, reduce weeds, increase soil fertility and biodiversity, and help prevent erosion and compaction, which provides allow water to seep into the soil more easily and improve water holding capacity. Analysis (6) showed that fields planted with organic matter were 11 to 14% more productive than conventional fields during drought years. Biotechnology crops, such as corn, have been designed to be drought tolerant, and genetic editing will introduce drought-tolerant varieties for many crops and vegetables.

A flow meter is one of the tools used by Arkansas farmers (7) Scott Matthews is on his rice farm to ensure that this water-dependent crop is used efficiently. Using GPS to monitor the surface of his fields, he can calculate the amount of water needed for each field and adjust it when building irrigation canals to control the amount of water. Mr Matthews has also installed a water storage and well recovery system so that water can be reused.

For the California almond farmer (8) Christine Gemperle, her biggest problem is how to use the water she has in this drought-prone state. “Climate change is real,” he says. “We’ve got into this climate where we’re seeing either a glut or a famine, so we can have one year with 200% of normal rainfall, then three years of drought to follow. .”

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Mrs. Gemperle has installed five irrigation systems on her farm to conserve water. The first is systematic watering, so water is available where and when the almond tree needs it. Other activities include continuous data analysis of evaporation loss, monitoring plant development, efficient irrigation equipment, and recycling of municipal water. “Our new practice is whole grain recycling, where we take orchards at the end of their life cycle and grind them to the ground. Research by the Almond Board shows that this can increase the water holding capacity of the soil by 20 percent.”

Fresh water is less than 3% of the world’s water, and climate change, population growth, and urbanization are already showing the vulnerability of water use and food production. As the world continues to grow exponentially to nearly 10 billion people by 2050, securing water to feed all is of utmost importance.


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