Here are seven strategies for reducing water waste in the food system collated by Food Tank
1. Eating Less Meat
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. 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. Diversifying farms by including cover crops, planting trees on farms, and intercropping can help keep nutrients and water in the soil, protecting plants from drought and making sure that every drop of water delivered by rainfall or irrigation can be utilized.
3. Implementing micro-irrigation
Approximately 60 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted. Drip irrigation methods can be more expensive to install, but 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.
6. Planting perennial crops
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 no-till farming, can help farmers to better utilize the water they have available. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), studies have shown that no-till techniques improve water-retention capacity and improve water use efficiency in crops.
With thanks to www.FoodTank.org