Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Water management

Image: Marco Schmidt, Guiera senegalensis, inflorescence and leaves, SW Burkina Faso, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
12 November 2018

Growing millet next to a woody shrub native to West Africa could increase biomass by over 900% compared to growing millet alone, according to this paper. The shrub, Guiera senegalensis J.F. Gmel, has tap roots that can reach water deep in the soil. The study traced the movement of water from the shrub’s deep roots to the millet stems in a simulated drought.

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, Dramatic Views of Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station From 9/12, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
25 September 2018

The flooding caused by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina has drowned millions of chickens and thousands of pigs that were left on farms during the storm. The floodwaters have also caused at least 13 manure storage lagoons to overspill, spreading potentially dangerous bacteria and excess nutrients to the surrounding areas.

Image: ales_kartal, Harvest harvester tractor, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
31 July 2018

Farmers in Britain and other European countries have been affected by the ongoing heatwave and dry weather. Oxfordshire farmer Lesley Chandler told the Guardian, “It’s like a tinderbox out here… Just a spark could set it all alight” (read more here). Combine harvesters can create sparks if their blades hit a stone.

Image: danielsfotowelt, Lawn irrigation sprinkler, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
24 July 2018

This paper surveys 195 cities in the United States and finds that the number of water conservation measures adopted in a city depend on both the climate (drier cities tend to have more water conservation measures than wetter cities) and political leanings (cities that lean towards the Democrats have more water conservation measures than Republican-leaning cities).

Image: Sumita Roy Dutta, Ice stupas near Phyang monastery, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
11 June 2018

A project in Ladakh, India, creates “ice stupas”, a form of artificial glacier, to complement intermittent water flow from retreating natural glaciers. Water from streams is sprayed from vertical pipes during the winter, freezing into pointed mounds, which melt slowly throughout the year, irrigating crops in the summer.

Image: Hydrosami, Drought land dry mud BOUHANIFIA Algeria, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
26 May 2018

Researchers from Nasa have used satellite data to identify areas where freshwater reserves have increased or decreased. The study found that in 14 regions, the changes were likely due to human factors (e.g. groundwater pumping), and in 8 areas, the changes were caused mainly by climate (e.g. drought or ice-sheet melting). Freshwater availability decreased in several areas including northern India, north-east China, the Caspian and Aral Seas and some of the Middle East.

Image: MOAA, Satellite image and illustration of a dead zone in the southern U.S., Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
9 May 2018

In this TED talk, ocean expert Nancy Rabalais discusses the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico - an area of the ocean where there isn’t enough oxygen to support sea life. Fertiliser runoff from farmland further up the Mississippi River is causing the dead zone, according to Rabalais. She says that solutions could include growing perennial grains and using precision fertilisation.

Image: Oregon State University, Microplastic, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
26 March 2018

A report (PDF link) tested bottled water in nine different countries and found that 242 out of 259 bottles contained small pieces of plastic. The report suggests that at least some of the plastic particles may be coming from the packaging or the bottling process.

Photo: USDA NRCS, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
21 January 2018

This article examines global overuse of freshwater resources and how more sustainable irrigation practices could impact other environmental and developmental targets in the SDGs. It finds that the main likely effects are 1) increased food prices due to lower productivity and/or production costs as water prices increase, and 2) cropland expansion and associated extra GHG emissions of 0.87 gigatonnes of carbon.

28 November 2017

This new book, edited by Laura M. Pereira, Caitlin A. McElroy, Alexandra Littaye and Alexandra M. Girard, presents a diversity of collaborations between various governance actors in the management of the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus and analyses the ability of emergent governance structures to cope with the complexity of future challenges across FEW systems worldwide.

6 September 2017

The Sustainable Intensification Network (SIRN) has published a report based on a workshop they co-organised in Kenya in March 2017. The purpose of the workshop was to help inform potential future funding opportunities from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) for collaborative research between UK and African scientists, with the objectives of:

29 August 2017

This book contains six chapters on food security and sustainability in the Middle East. The book can be purchased in its entirety or by chapter online.

Photo: Chris Happel, irrigation at dawn, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
19 April 2017

This research identifies the major crops and countries contributing to groundwater depletion. The authors found that 11 percent of unsustainable groundwater used for irrigation is embedded in international crop trade. They highlight the main exporters and importers of these crops, and the associated risks for local and global food and water security.

Photo: muffinn, Hallow – muck spreading, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 Generic.
29 March 2017

This review assesses the performance of organic cropping systems as an approach to sustainable agriculture, and seeks to identify the contextual considerations (such as type of cropping system) that may affect this performance. The scope of the review is constrained to the level of the farming system (i.e. excludes considerations of other components of the food system, such as packaging or transport). In order to provide an unbiased assessment of organic farming as a means of sustainable agriculture, rather than approaching the question from the usual “What does organic farming do well/badly?” angle, the authors ask “What constitutes successful sustainable agriculture?” then measure organic farming against this yardstick.

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