We already know that water is one of the most crucial agricultural inputs. If water is so important in agriculture, then it is crucial to utilise this boon as efficiently as possible. Water sustainability in agricultural operations means the reliable and efficient administration of water resources to make sure that the long-term employment of agricultural methods is done properly while also safeguarding the environment and fulfilling the water needs of present and future years. It involves enforcing techniques that counterbalance water use for crop production with the conservation of water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and general water availability.
Reasons Why Water Sustainability Is Needed
- Limited access to water- There isn’t much available freshwater: Only 3% of the water on the earth is freshwater, and of that, only 1.2% is drinkable (the remainder is entrapped in glaciers, ice caps, permafrost, or deep underground). Water management is crucial since there is a budding need for this resource due to economic and demographic transition. Access to water is a problem in industrialised as well as developing nations, but the latter face more problems related to this issue. In areas where water is currently plentiful, climate change will result in making it scarcer, and in areas where it is already inadequate, the situation will aggravate gradually. Today, water scarcity affects 40% of the global population.
- Complex water management- Looking at the present and upcoming issues that local and global water systems are presently and will be experiencing, operating water can be problematic and costly. Water supply may be affected by the physical effects of climate change on water systems, maturing legislation, and impaired water management. The improper technique of managing water can have adverse effects; for instance, scientists have uncovered that inappropriate control of rivers, lakes, wetlands, and groundwater can exacerbate droughts. Water management is primarily important in agriculture, especially when it comes to irrigation.
- Enhanced sustainability- By preserving water and money, efficient, sustainable water resource management can aid in acquiring sustainability and water conservation goals. Water managers are looking for more sustainable practices to use water in order to satisfy recent ecological, social, and economic needs without surrendering the ability to meet those needs in the future due to the increasing worldwide water starvation and pollution. In doing so, it is essential to handle issues such as eutrophication, freshwater availability, watershed pollution, seasonal precipitation fluctuation, salt intrusion, flooding liability, untreated connected wastewater, and more.
- Better food production- It takes a lot of water to produce food that can feed the entire planet. Irrigation, food processing, and beverage production are just a few examples of water-intensive activities that are common in the food industry and have high water reliance and water footprints. Due to the hazards associated with water scarcity, poor water quality, and floods—all of which have an influence on output, commerce, and food security—growers and businesses may be exposed. Utilising technology like more effective irrigation and reuse systems can help reduce water waste and maintain safety in agricultural and water asset management.
- Eliminating dangerous consequences- Negligent management of water quality can have fatal repercussions. Inadequate setup and maintenance of water systems can allow heavy metals, pollutants, and diseases to enter the water supply. This occurs either as water enters distribution systems (pipes) or as it moves through water sources (groundwater or surface water). Think of the fertiliser runoff into the Mississippi River or the lead in the water in Flint, Michigan. The likelihood of contracting this illness is higher in those with compromised immune systems, newborns, children, pregnant women, and elderly adults.
- Costly water management systems- Local water and sewer systems that are privatised, or when privately owned businesses acquire water utilities, typically have higher water prices. Communities frequently deal with rising water rates, degraded service, and limited influence over these problems. The population who uses the water for drinking, food production, and local economic support should have access to water resources and management.
Strategies For a Better Water Management System
- Drip Irrigation and Precision Irrigation: This technique provides water directly to the root zone of plants, minimising the wastage of water through evaporation or runoff. Precision irrigation approaches use sensors and technology to involve the right amount of water at the right time based on plant needs and soil moisture levels.
- Soil Moisture Monitoring: Implement soil moisture sensors to monitor the moisture content in the soil. This information helps in optimising irrigation scheduling and prevents overwatering or underwatering.
- Mulching: Spread organic or synthetic mulch on the soil surface near the plants. Mulch aids in retaining soil moisture by declining evaporation, subduing weed growth, and sustaining a more durable soil temperature.
- Crop Selection and Rotation: Select crops that are most feasible to the local climate and require less water. Execute crop rotation to break pest and disease cycles, improve soil fertility, and maximise water usage in the best possible manner.
- Rainwater Harvesting: Collect and preserve rainwater for irrigation purposes. This diminishes the dependency on groundwater or surface water sources and can be remarkably effective in regions with seasonal rainfall.
- Aerated and Controlled Drainage: Implement presided drainage systems that permit for more exact control over water levels in fields. Proper drainage prevents waterlogging and guarantees optimal root growth.
- Cover Crops: Plants cover crops during non-growing seasons to prevent soil erosion, enhance soil structure, and enrich water retention in the soil.
- Efficient Irrigation Scheduling: Mould a well-defined irrigation schedule based on weather forecasts, soil moisture levels, and crop water requirements. Don’t irrigate during the hottest times of the day to decrease water loss through evaporation.
- Use of Efficient Irrigation Systems: If using overhead irrigation, switch to more efficient systems like a centre pivot or linear move system. These systems can reduce water wastage through improved distribution.
- Water-Efficient Farming Techniques: Implement water-efficient farming techniques such as no-till or reduced-till farming, which help retain soil moisture and reduce water runoff.
In the quest for a greener and more productive agricultural tomorrow, adopting water sustainability is not just a choice but should be considered a responsibility. As we’ve explored the diverse challenges posed by water scarcity and the growing demands on our finite resources, one thing becomes highly clear: the time for action is today.
By embracing ingenious and efficient techniques, such as precision irrigation, soil moisture monitoring, and rainwater harvesting, agribusiness owners can enormously downsize their water footprint while retaining or even improving their yields.
A climactic tool in this journey towards sustainable water management is sustainable farming software, enabling agribusiness owners to work with real-time data, actionable insights, and streamlined irrigation management. With the integration of soil moisture sensors, weather forecasts, and crop water requirements, this software offers an exhaustive solution to the intricate riddle of water management.