March 22, 2013 is the 20th anniversary of World Water Day. In honor of this important anniversary, this week Food Tank: The Food Think Tank is highlighting 7 Strategies for Reducing Water Waste.
Although the earth has 1.4 billion cubic kilometers of water, only 0.001 percent of that is accessible for human consumption and use. And 70 percent of water is used for agricultural purposes. Department of Agriculture (USDA), affected 80 percent of agricultural land in the country. Couple that with recent droughts in other parts of the world, most notably in the African Sahel, and the urgency for action to safeguard water resources is clear.
As water supplies face mounting pressures from growing populations, climate change, and an already troubled food system, analyses of "water wealth" and "water security" are laying the groundwork for future cooperation and stability. In order to meet all municipal, agricultural, and ecological needs for water, it is crucial to develop innovative water saving systems for the future of food production.
Here are seven strategies for reducing water waste in the food system:
According to Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project, it takes roughly 3,000 liters of water to meet one person's daily dietary needs, or approximately 1 liter per calorie. A report published by UNESCOIHE's Institute for Water Education found that the amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of red meat can range from 13,000 to 43,000 liters of water; poultry requires about 3,500 liters of water; and pork needs about 6,000 liters. Eating more meatless meals, even one or two days a week, can help conserve water resources.
2. Using intercropping, agroforestry, and cover crops
Soil health is critical to water conservation. Drip irrigation methods can be more expensive to install, but as research from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in collaboration with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA shows can also be 33 percent to 40 percent more efficient, carrying water or fertilizers directly to plants' roots.
4. Improving Rainwater Harvesting
Since the 1980s, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, farmers in Burkina Faso have been modifying traditional planting pits known as zai, making them deeper and wider and adding organic materials. As a result, the pits retain rainwater longer, helping farmers to increase yields even in years of low rainfall.
5. Using mobile technology to save water
Santosh Ostwal is an innovator and entrepreneur in India who has developed a system that allows farmers to use mobile phones to turn their irrigation systems on and off remotely. This helps reduce the amount of water and electricity wasted on watering fields that are already saturated.
Perennial crops protect the soil for a greater length of time than annual crops, which reduces water loss from runoff. According to a report from the Land Institute, "annual grain crops can lose five times as much water and 35 times as much nitrate as perennial crops."
7. Practicing Soil Conservation
Soil conservation techniques, including notill farming, can help farmers to better utilize the water they have available. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), studies have shown that notill techniques improve waterretention capacity and improve water use efficiency in crops.
Be sure to visit the official World Water Day website for more details about the day's events, including activities in your community and tips for reducing your water footprint. You can also learn more about water issues from the Barilla Center for Food Nutrition, the Global Water Policy Project, Food and Water Watch, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). What's most disheartening is that the other 6 suggests are great! They ask for practical changes that can and are being implemented by many worldwide, practices that could be exapanded, further conserving water. My fear is that by starting with 'eat less meat' some readers instantly turn off and disengage so that they don't continue reading the great points that come after OR the article is preaching to the choir, at which point those that agree with point one were already on the path to agreeing with the rest. I just request more strategic communication to reach a broader audience and try to begin by focusing on where we can all agree and collaborate, moving to the more 'controverisal' aspects after a conversation with people from different perspectives has been engaged. But great suggests, which is why I want them to reach as many people as possible :)
For many years, communities in the semiarid parts of Kenya have been using sand dams to retain water for use mostly in agriculture but also for drinking. See this report from MCC:It would be great to see this method promoted and taken up more widely. There are a few key conditions that need to be in place before a sand dam can be built. Some of these are to do with geology and land rights but perhaps the key one is the willingness of the community to act cooperatively to build a community facility. When they do the results are impressive since the sand dam improves the availability of water for cultivation for a wide area around the dam. One US scientist compared it to the riparian environment created by beaver dams in North America.
Oh wow really? What do animals eat that 'grow' our meat? Right! Crops. 100% crops get you about 10% meat in addition to plenty of water. It's like putting your money in a bank account that has an interest rate of 90%.
Plants are not 'water wasters'/ Plants are water facilitators. Yes there are plants that use a lot of water like tomatoes or water melon, but it's humans that choose to grow them so excessively. It's not like the plant wanted to grow there even though it causes water stress. It wouldn't grow there if it was limited by water.
And don't generalize soils as poor just because somebody decided to put an animal farm there. We don't really know. Besides nowadays we have farms out in the desert for some awkward reasons, irrigated by artificial water irrigation systems. Imagine Las Vegas without artificial water supply .
If there are farms out in the desert, it's probably because all the farmland is covered with houses and shopping malls and so forth. In any case, when people are crowded together in one place, animals tend to be crowded together somewhere else unlike most other parts of the world where they all live together.
Evidently you don't know what the word "grazing" means. As I said, cattle eat grass and other stuff we cannot eat and convert it into stuff we can eat. At least a billion people would die if their food animals were taken away from them.
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