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7 ways to save water this World Water Day

March 22 marks the 20th anniversary of World Water Day. In honour of this important anniversary, here are seven strategies for reducing water waste.

7 ways to save water this World Water Day

While the earth has 1.4 billion cubic kilometers of water, only 0.001 per cent of it is accessible for human use. And 70 per cent is used for agricultural purposes. With many countries, including the U.S, New Zealand, and the African Sahel experiencing some of the worst droughts on record, it’s never been more urgent a time to safeguard our precious water supplies, and help strengthen our “water wealth” for the generations ahead. 

The Food Tank shares with us their seven strategies for reducing water waste in the food system:

1. Eating Less Meat

According to Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project, it takes roughly 3,000 litres of water to meet one person’s daily dietary need. The amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of red meat can range from 13,000 to 43,000 litres of water; poultry requires about 3,500 litres of water; and pork needs about 6,000 litres. Eating more meatless meals, even one or two days a week, can help conserve water resources. 

2. Using intercropping, agroforestry, and cover crops

Soil health is critical to water conservation. Diversifying farms by including cover crops, planting trees on farms, and intercropping can help keep nutrients and water in the soil, protecting plants from drought and making sure that every drop of water delivered by rainfall or irrigation can be utilised.

3. Implementing micro-irrigation

Approximately 60 per cent of water used for irrigation is wasted. Drip irrigation methods can be more expensive to install, but can also be 33 per cent to 40 per cent more efficient, carrying water or fertilisers directly to plants’ roots. 

4. Improving Rainwater Harvesting

Since the 1980s, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, farmers in Burkina Faso have been modifying traditional planting pits known as zai, making them deeper and wider and adding organic materials. As a result, the pits retain rainwater longer, helping farmers to increase yields even in years of low rainfall.

5. Using mobile technology to save water

Santosh Ostwal is an innovator and entrepreneur in India who has developed a system that allows farmers to use mobile phones to turn their irrigation systems on and off remotely. This helps reduce the amount of water and electricity wasted on watering fields that are already saturated.

6. Planting perennial crops

Perennial crops protect the soil for a greater length of time than annual crops, which reduces water loss from runoff. According to a report from the Land Institute, “annual grain crops can lose five times as much water and 35 times as much nitrate as perennial crops.”

7. Practicing Soil Conservation

Soil conservation techniques, including no-till farming, can help farmers to better utilise the water they have available. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), studies have shown that no-till techniques improve water-retention capacity and improve water use efficiency in crops.

Be sure to visit the official World Water Day website for more details about the day’s events, including activities in your community and tips for reducing your water footprint. You can also learn more about water issues from the Barilla Centre for Food & Nutrition, the Global Water Policy Project, Food and Water Watch, and the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC).

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