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 3. Groundwater Is Being Depleted.
About 30 percent of Earth’s fresh water lies deep underground in aquifers.
The south east of England is an area of particular concern. It is a highly populated area with relatively low annual rainfall. As a result, the supply of water in the south east of England is limited. Some parts have less usable water per person than countries such as Syria. Generally, the water level in the aquifers in the chalk areas of the UK are experiencing falling. The falling level of water near our bore-holes is not going to be helped by more rainfall because high intensity rain tends to run off into the rivers and to sea.
Conservation farming action;
- Increase soil organic matter and reduce cultivations.
- Trees are a mixed water-blessing; they will reduce water run-off and reduce flash-flooding lower down, and they will respire around 50 % more than a cereal crop.
- Look for crops that need less water or are deep-rooted (such as forage maize instead of grass).
Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd., September 17