World Water Day

22 March 2016

Keeping Our Head Above Water: Celebrating World Water Day 2016

Innovative technologies for efficient water management: insights from Professor Uri Shani, Israel’s Former Water Commissioner 
 
On March 22nd 2016, the world is celebrating World Water Day. This is a global initiative of the United Nations, whose goal is to raise awareness regarding water issues worldwide.
According to Professor Uri Shani, former Israel’s Water Commissioner, farmers are the number one consumers of water in the world, using 70% of the world’s fresh water resources. Water efficiency is all the more critical when we consider that only 2%-6% of all this water is actually used by plants for physiological processes. The rest is not used due to evaporation from the plant (transpiration), runoff, or leakage. This, clearly, makes the efficient and economical use of water a strategic imperative for farmers. 
 
Necessity is the Mother of Invention . . . and Water Innovation
In recent years, various innovative water management technologies have been developed, allowing farmers to use water more efficiently. Professor Shani highlights some of the most advanced technologies existing today for water efficiency:  
 
(1)    Drip irrigation: this approach and technology saves water by allowing water to drip slowly and directly to the plants’ roots through a network of plastic pipes. This also prevents evaporation and wind dispersion. Drip irrigation is so effective, it uses 20%-50% less water than other systems.
 
(2)    Water recycling: this is another very effective water management technique. It is based on taking water that is not usable and processing it by removing solids and impurities, so that it can be used for agriculture. According to a recent article,  Israel is  the world leader in recycling and reusing wastewater for agriculture, with 86% of its domestic wastewater  recycled  for agricultural use — about 55 percent of the total water used for agriculture. Spain is the number two in water recycling, second to Israel, recycling 17% of its effluent.
 
(3)    Water desalination: this is the process of removing dissolved salts from seawater to produce fresh water. This technology was used in 2014 during California’s severe drought, where farmers started using desalinated water produced through reverse osmosis technology, a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly approach than older methods. 
 
Water Apps: The Next Phase in Innovation:
When asked about what’s coming next, Professor Shani says that, “The future will bring exciting innovations, such as drip irrigation system sensors that ‘sense’ and ‘tell’ farmers what is going on with their systems, alerting them through mobile apps.”
Adama shares this vision. As part of our commitment to environmentally responsible farming, including the protection of water resources, we have developed the Water Aware app. This is a smartphone application that forecasts risk of movement of selected pesticides from soil to water courses, making for safer farming and helping to protect the environment.
 
Smart Water Usage Is a Collective Responsibility
So what does it take to avoid waste and protect our global water resources? Professor Shani says: “Water is a scarce resource, necessary for the very basics of life on earth. It is our responsibility to be efficient and protect it. With the great technologies out there now, and those under development – this is absolutely achievable. And it is up to all of us to make it happen.”
Uri Shani
Professor Uri Shani
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