21 April 2015 | Online since 2003



27 November 2012|News,Slurry and Irrigation

Global irrigated area at record levels according to research


In 2009, the most recent year for which global data are available from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 311 million hectares in the world was equipped for irrigation but only 84 percent of that area was actually being irrigated, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute.

As of 2010, the countries with the largest irrigated areas were India (39 million hectares), China (19 million), and the United States (17 million), writes report author Judith Renner.

The irrigation sector claims about 70 percent of the freshwater withdrawals worldwide.

Irrigation can offer crop yields that are two to four times greater than is possible with rainfed farming, and it currently provides 40 percent of the world's food from approximately 20 percent of all agricultural land.

Since the late 1970s, irrigation expansion has experienced a marked slowdown.

The FAO attributes the decline in investment to the unsatisfactory performances of formal large canal systems, corruption in the construction process, and acknowledgement of the environmental impact of irrigation projects.

The increasing availability of inexpensive individual pumps and well construction methods has led to a shift from public to private investment in irrigation, and from larger to smaller-scale systems.

The takeoff in individual groundwater irrigation has been concentrated in India, China, and much of Southeast Asia. The idea of affordable and effective irrigation is attractive to poor farmers worldwide, with rewards of higher outputs and incomes and better diets.

"The option is often made even more appealing with offers of government subsidies for energy costs of running groundwater pumps and support prices of irrigated products," said Renner, a senior at Fordham University in New York.

"In India's Gujarat state, for example, energy subsidies are structured so that farmers pay a flat rate, no matter how much electricity they use. But with rising numbers of farmers tapping groundwater resources, more and more aquifers are in danger of overuse."

If groundwater resources are overexploited, aquifers will be unable to recharge fast enough to keep pace with water withdrawals.

It should be noted that not all aquifers are being pumped at unsustainable levels - in fact, 80 percent of aquifers worldwide could handle additional water withdrawals.

One troubling aspect of groundwater withdrawals is that the world's major agricultural producers (particularly India, China, and the United States) are also the ones responsible for the highest levels of depletion.

Another problem with pumping water from aquifers and redirecting flows for irrigation is the impact on delicate environmental balances.

Salinization occurs when water moves past plant roots to the water table due to inefficient irrigation and drainage systems; as the water table rises, it brings salts to the base of plant roots. Plants take in the water, and the salts are left behind, degrading soil quality and therefore the potential for growth.

A potentially better alternative is drip irrigation, a form of micro-irrigation that waters plants slowly and in small amounts either on the soil surface or directly on roots.

Using these techniques has the potential to reduce water use by as much as 70 percent while increasing output by 20-90 percent.

Within the last two decades, the area irrigated using drip and other micro-irrigation methods has increased 6.4-fold, from 1.6 million hectares to over 10.3 million hectares.

With predictions of a global population exceeding 9 billion by 2050, demand for higher agricultural output will put more strain on already fragile water reserves.

Even without the effects of climate change, water withdrawals for irrigation will need to rise by 11 percent in the next three decades to meet crop production demands.

Reconciling increasing food demands with decreasing water security requires efficient systems that produce more food with less water and that minimize water waste. Intelligent water management is crucial especially in the face of climate change, which will force the agriculture industry to compete with the environment for water.

Download




Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


16 April 2015
Retail Manager
You will ensure that your team delivers fantastic customer service through their extensive knowledge and expertise whether it...

11 April 2015
Project Manager (Temporary 3 month contract)
This is a high profile role where you will be required to liaise with all levels of management within our Agriculture busines...

10 April 2015
Assistant Herdsperson
We require a keen and enthusiastic herdsperson to help run all elements of a modern and progressive dairy farm near Harrogate...

16 April 2015
Farming Apprentice
1. BASIC JOB PURPOSE To assist the Farm Team in all aspects of the management of livestock, and visitors 2. MAIN RESPONSIBILI...

17 April 2015
General farm worker
General farm worker. Required on a large arable farm, Stokesley area call Jonathan on 07775852054 Please refer to the Job Des...



Top stories you may have missed
10 April 2015 | Agri Safety

Final phase of Scotland's war on BVD

The permanent eradication of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea [BVD] in Scottish cattl...


10 April 2015 | Dairy

Dairy farmers competitiveness will be te...

The abolition of milk quotas in Europe on 1st April has resulted in a numbe...


10 April 2015 | Cattle

EU milk sector growth 'dependent on expo...

The top 14 milk producing countries in Europe will increase their productio...


10 April 2015 | News

Could the rural vote hold the key to the...

Matt Ware is the NFU's head of government and parliamentary affairs, based ...


10 April 2015 | Arable

Action needed to boost farmgate prices i...

There is a 'desperate need' to improve farmgate returns given low incomes a...


9 April 2015 | Arable

OSR damage risks early Sclerotinia infec...

Rapid stem extension, after a slow start to spring, is likely to create spl...


9 April 2015 | Finance

Time for a farm rent revolution?

The time has come for landlords to expect to see reductions in farm rents, ...


8 April 2015 | Cattle

Cogent strengthens reputation for high c...

Cogent’s reputation as a source of the highest calibre sires has been enhan...


8 April 2015 | Arable

Exotic plant fungus a 'serious threat to...

The spread of exotic and aggressive strains of a plant fungus is presenting...


7 April 2015 | Animal Health

Share information to tackle food fraud, ...

The FSA’s new Food Crime Unit wants the industry to share information, some...