Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Water use/consumption

9 December 2019

The US think tank Breakthrough Institute has created an interactive series of graphs to visualise how the environmental impact of farming in the United States has changed over time, covering land use, nitrogen loss, water, herbicides, soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions and spending on research and development.

2 December 2019

This book, originally published as a special issue of Water International, explores how the concept of “virtual water” is relevant to agriculture, trade and sustainability.

Image: Pxhere, Landscape water grass, Public Domain
26 March 2019

This paper assesses the agricultural water use efficiency of different food types based on their nutrient content, instead of the conventional approach of assessing water use in terms of litres used to produce a certain weight of food. The purpose of the study is to determine whether higher intakes of nutrient-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and seeds might conflict with the aim of minimising agriculture’s water use.

13 March 2019

Over half a million acres of irrigated farmland may have to be permanently taken out of agricultural use in the San Joaquin valley in California in order to conserve groundwater, according to this report by the non-profit Public Policy Institute of California. The report suggests using the land for generating solar energy, restoring ecosystems or managing flood risk by restoring floodplains.

Image: olle svensson, avocado, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
4 June 2018

Some avocado plantation owners in Chile are illegally diverting water from rivers and leaving local villagers without enough water, according to a feature in the Guardian. Demand for avocados has increased by 27% in the UK in the last year. Activist Veronica Vilches claimed that local people are getting sick because of the lack of water, while activist Rodrigo Mundaca says that the water provided to resident by trucks is of poor quality.

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.

21 January 2018

This book, edited by Raimund Bleischwitz, Holger Hoff, Catalina Spataru, Ester van der Voet and Stacy D. VanDeveer, explores the concept of the ‘resource nexus’.

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.

12 December 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released a worldwide map that details croplands in high resolution in an ongoing effort to monitor croplands and water use.

12 December 2017

The planetary boundaries concept provides a theoretical upper limit on human activity which the planet is able to sustain without major perturbation to the current ‘Earth system’. Previously, nine planetary boundaries (PBs) have been proposed and recently Steffen et al. (2015) have updated these boundary definitions and assessed the current state of the position of human activity with respect to each boundary. In this article, researchers from a number of food, climate change, agricultural and environmental research institutions around the world build on this work by assessing the impact of agriculture on each PB status, based on a detailed literature review of the available research.

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.

Photo: Fooding around, Fruit Walla New Delhi, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
30 October 2017

This paper by FCRN member Dana Boyer examines how policy interventions at the city scale can affect three environmental outcomes of food production: greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land use. It uses India’s capital city Delhi as a case study. It sets out to assess the magnitude of city-scale food system actions as compared to certain actions which can be taken beyond the city boundary.

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.

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