“Conserving Global Water Resources by Developing Inexpensive Technology to Measure Crop Water Demand”
Category: Agriculture, Water
This project has been sponsored by The Laura Jane Musser Fund.
The technological innovations in crop development and agricultural intensification after World War II, known as the Green Revolution, improved the nutrition of billions of people. However, the improvements in human welfare came at the cost of depletion and pollution of global water resources. Modern agriculture relies heavily on irrigation for profitable yields and agrichemicals for crop nutrition and pest management. Inefficient and poorly informed applications of irrigation water deplete ground water and surface water resources. The run-off and deep percolation from excessive irrigation pollutes aquifers, watersheds, and coastal oceanic ecosystems. To avoid depleting and polluting water resources while still feeding the human population, farmers and water managers around the world need a better tool for assessing exactly how much water is required to produce our food.
Mr. Shapland is working on an inexpensive technique for measuring crop water use at the field scale called Surface Renewal. Since the amount of water required to produce a crop varies with local weather conditions, cropping system, soil type, water quality and irrigation regime, Mr. Shapland believes the Surface Renewal system can provide farmers around the world with remotely accessible and up-to-the-minute information about exactly how much water their fields need. This technique promises to help farmers world-wide, feed the human population while minimizing wasteful water use.