On 24 August 2017m the Water Resources Institute published a piece on their website looking at “7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis” in a piece written by Leah Schleifer. With credit to them, I try here to relate those lessons to British farming and maybe farming elsewhere in developed counties that do not really think water may be a significant economic problem sooner rather than later.
Reason 2. More People + More Money = More Water Demand.
The Yorkshire Post reports that: “There has been a net loss nationally of 7,000 hectares of agricultural land in the UK between 2006 and 2012”. The Guardian has reported that: “Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years”. There is an insidious water consumption in the UK. While our own water consumption is rising with population growth (net plus 0.5 million people in 2016!) and what we each spend is continually, our consumption of “virtual water” (i.e. that which is involved with production overseas of what we import) is 30 times as much as UK water used, and the WWF reports that; “Taking virtual water into account, each of us soaks up 4,645 litres a day”. That makes us the 6th largest water importer in the world.
Yes, there is a looming crisis.
Conservation farming action;
- Build water storage if you can. (There is some useful USA experience in building dams using old tyres.)
- Harvest water from roofs and concrete.
- Subsoil to allow roots to go deeper and move to reduced tillage – develop understanding and skills in direct drilling (or what is otherwise called “zero till”).
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd., September 17