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CropWorld Global 2013: Water Resource and Irrigation

CropWorld Global 2013: Water Resource and Irrigation

01 November 2013

THE NETHERLANDS - In the face of a rapidly growing population and associated demand for food, the agricultural sector, representing 70 per cent of all freshwater abstractions globally, has a responsibility to do its best to increase water use efficiency, according to Peter Easton, Water Resources Consultant at Easton Water Consulting.

Speaking at CropWorld Global 2013, Mr Easton said small percentage improvements in agriculture can be large compared to water use in other sectors.

Mr Easton continued: "In most regions, water is cheap, with the result it is often not valued as a critical social and environmental resource as it should be. This will, however, become more apparent in coming decades.

"The need to ensure sustainable water use for the planet – for its people and natural environment - should be a major driver in coming years. Efficient water management and irrigation technology will have a vital contribution to make.

'Doing the right thing'

"One of the main challenges facing the big players in the global food industry is regular criticism (rightly or wrongly) of exploiting developing world resources, such as land and water. The reality is, many are doing more positive action than is publically recognised.

"The opportunity for them is to demonstrate they are ‘doing the right thing’, as well as to set a good example for others (both international and local competitors). There is also an opportunity for more open debate, to recognise the good, but also understand best where improvements are needed.

"One of the most important innovations I see is much greater respect for the critical role of healthy soil.

"For crops, soil is the most critical resource for water and nutrients. There is a growing trend to re-establishing more natural management of soil, respecting its character, structure and role in maintaining biodiversity.

"There is a growing recognition that natural soils are healthier soils. Such measures as low tillage, winter cover crop, crop rotation and erosion control have proved vital for retaining organic matter and moisture for a healthier soil and healthier and more productive crop."

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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