Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Agriculture
The sustainable management of water resources in agriculture is encouraged to prevent wastage of water and encourage conservation. Water resources is an essential ingredient in agriculture, without which farming would not be possible. However, it is not readily available in many parts of the world. Besides, water resources continue to be under greater threat due to factors like urbanization, climate change, and industrialization among others. This implies farmers should be well informed on the efficient use of water and its management in their activities so as to enhance the sustainability of the resources.
Policy makers and farmers should recognize that the management of water use in agriculture is an area that is quite complex and diverse. Agriculture accounts for about 70% of the global fresh water withdrawals. Considering the projected population growth, increased demand for food production and competition from other sectors that also use water, there is going to be even more pressure on the available resources in the coming years. One of the most ideal ways of conserving this precious wealth is through sustainable management of water resources in agriculture.
The background of Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Agriculture
Since the 1990, there have been tremendous changes in the use and management of water resources in agriculture. In fact, farming accounts for the greatest share of water use across the world. Although the total area of agricultural land has decreased over the years, irrigation is steadily rising in many countries, especially the OECD countries. Some of the countries that have experienced significant increase in the use of water for agriculture include Korea, Turkey, New Zealand and Greece. However, Mexico, Australia and several European OECD countries, the use of water for farming has gone down.
The reasons for the decreased use of water for agriculture in some countries over the years vary from one to another. However, the main reasons include;
- Improvement in the water use efficiency
- Release of water towards meeting environmental conservation goals
- Droughts mainly impacted by global warming among other climatic factors
The contraction of the European agricultural sector is also another factor that has contributed to the reduction in the use of water resources in agriculture. This has to some extent, ensured the sustainability of the resources.
In many OECD countries where irrigation is steadily gaining ground, farmers have been able to employ various strategies towards sustainable management of water resources for agriculture. Some of the water spills from the irrigation schemes is re-used for other purposes like environmental conservation. However, some points are still lost to pollutant runoffs, ground water sources and evaporation.
In some countries like Greece and Turkey where agriculture greatly depends on irrigation, the increase in water use for farming has been tremendous in the past decade. However, in those where irrigation is not key, the use of water has been on the low. Irrigated agriculture usually has a higher production volume. This further increases the value of shares in farm production for countries that focus on agriculture for exports.
How Sustainable Management of Water Resources in Agriculture is Done Today
Although some countries are more involved in agriculture than others, it still remains an important sector that every country has invested in. In order to effectively conserve water while also increasing the volume of production, there are various sustainable water management practices that have been adopted across the world.
Many countries have greatly invested in irrigated agriculture, which not only ensures effective management of water resources but also increased production volume. Latest technologies like drip irrigation have been instrumental in ensuring the better management of water resources in agriculture.
In areas facing droughts and water scarcity, recycling of water is encouraged for sustainability. Besides, researchers also point out that virtual water trade is another option that can be pursued towards ensuring sustainable management of water resources in agriculture.
However, the poor maintenance of irrigation infrastructures by some has also impacted inefficiencies in water use through loss leakages, thereby hindering the sustainable management of water resources in farming. On the other hand, there are also certain countries like Turkey, which still use flooding irrigation that also puts a lot of strain on water resources.
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