Agriculture accounts for more than 80 percent of all water consumed in the United States.
Some people might read that figure and think, “farmers are using all of our water!” But we see it differently. We see potential.
That’s because farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists, water conservationists and land stewards. They have been, and continue to be, among the first to develop innovative water efficiency solutions, and they are already implementing a variety of practices to optimize their water use and adapt to drought and climate change.
On World Water Day, it’s important to remember that farmers are key to solving the global water crisis.
Drought a powerful motivator
Farmers are usually the first to feel the impact of drought, often experiencing water shortages before any urban water users are affected. For this reason, they are among the first to adapt, adjusting practices to increase efficiency.
Take Jason Walker, a grain farmer in Arizona who, spurred by drought, laser-leveled 175 acres of his farm, a practice noted to be up to 30-percent more water efficient.
He also lined the ditches that deliver water to his crops. Lined ditches retain up to 90 percent of their water, compared with unlined ditches, which lose up to half their water.
“It’s absolutely our responsibility to conserve our finite resources,” Jason says.
When drought hit Brendon Rockey’s Colorado farm hard seven years ago, he planted cover crops to retain moisture in the soil, which also enhanced the effectiveness of his center pivot irrigation.
Since then, Rockey’s pumping costs have decreased – his cumulative annual consumptive use cut nearly in half – while his crop quality increased.
His neighbors now come to him for advice on maintaining a productive business through drought.
Farmers are a good investment
When you consider the sheer volume of water used in growing crops, adoption of water efficiency practices like these have big potential when taken to scale.
Not only can farmers become more resilient to climate change, but they also have greater flexibility to share water with other sectors. This, in turn, generates revenue for farmers and provides additional benefits to other water users, not to mention rivers.
That’s why we’re hopeful that – through continued investments in agricultural efficiency and flexible infrastructure – farmers will lead us through the global water crisis.
But investments of this kind aren’t just about securing a reliable water supply; they are also about securing a reliable food supply. After all, farmers use water to produce the food that feeds the planet.
We consider that a good investment.
Remember a #Vegan diet is the most efficient use of water.
The best thing each of us can - right now - do to help prevent a water crisis - is to transition away from meat and dairy. Animal agriculture, by far, is the biggest user of water in California. Factory farm or free-range, it's an inefficient (not to mention violent and dirty) way to produce food.
As this article points out, farming technology and techniques will be the key to increasing crop yields without increasing water use, not changing our diet. There's also the increasingly popular technique of using wastewater from animal waste to irrigate fields, although from what I understand the stench can be overwhelming at times.
Quoted from the NY Times:
"In addition, what’s good for you is good for our planet. Livestock production causes more disruption of the climate than all forms of transportation combined.
And because it takes as much as 10 times more grain to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, eating a plant-based diet could free up resources for the hungry.
What you gain is so much more than what you give up."
In reply to As this article points out, by Enviro Equipme…
California should start building nuclear power plants that can power desalination plants -- as well as make hydrogen for transportation from the electrolysis of seawater
Though we have at our disposal now the full spectrum of technologies to safely harness nuclear energy, we are not doing so out of fears and images etched in our minds.
But there is no greater victim of nuclear energy than Japan, which also embraced it.
California should too because nuclear energy can be its greatest benefactor. Indeed, that of the world as a whole.
KafantarisMarch 22, 2015 at 7:43 am