How does agriculture affect water resources


Agricultural food production impacts water resources by depleting quantities of both surface water and groundwater and by polluting surface and groundwater with pesticides and fertilizers.

Excessive irrigation can affect water quality by causing erosion, transporting nutrients, pesticides, and heavy metals, or decreasing the amount of water that flows naturally in streams and rivers.


How does the water cycle affect agriculture?

production, livestock and food manufacturing. On the other, the nature of agricultural land use affects the hydrological cycle in terms of the partitioning of rainfall between evapotranspiration, runoff and groundwater recharge, and the quality. 3. of runoff water in terms of, for example, nutrients and sediment.

How does industrial agriculture affect our water?

Agriculture, which accounts for 70 percent of water withdrawals worldwide, plays a major role in water pollution. Farms discharge large quantities of agrochemicals, organic matter, drug residues, sediments and saline drainage into water bodies.

Can water pollution affect agriculture?

Yes water pollution can affect agriculture. It can happen in many different ways — too many to list.

How does agriculture pollute water?

Water quality change and pollution source accounting of Licun River under long-term governance

  • Abstract. …
  • Introduction. …
  • Materials and methods. …
  • Governances course of the Licun River. …
  • Analysis of improvement effect of governance. …
  • Emission accounting of pollution sources and suggestions for control. …
  • Conclusions. …
  • Data availability. …
  • Acknowledgements. …
  • Funding. …

More items…


How does agriculture cause water scarcity?

Decreased Water Availability for Agriculture In addition, surface and groundwater supplies may decline during drought, affecting water availability and increasing costs to access water for crop or forage irrigation and watering livestock.

How is water wasted in agriculture?

Agriculture based on fields that temporarily flood is also a major problem because most of that water is wasted through evaporation, the forum was told. Other problems include pesticide and herbicide runoff from farm fields that pollute rivers and lakes, as well as soil erosion and salt buildup from irrigation.

Does agriculture use the most water?

Agriculture is 80 percent of water use in California.

How much water is wasted during agriculture?

Agriculture accounts for around 70% of all water withdrawals globally according to the World Bank, and approximately 60% of that is wasted, largely due to inefficient applications according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

What is the role of water in agriculture?

Water is a critical input for agricultural production and plays an important role in food security. Irrigated agriculture represents 20 percent of the total cultivated land and contributes 40 percent of the total food produced worldwide. Irrigated agriculture is, on average, at least twice as productive per unit of land as rainfed agriculture, …

How much of the world’s freshwater withdrawals are agriculture?

Currently, agriculture accounts (on average) for 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawals globally (and an even higher share of “consumptive water use” due to the evapotranspiration of crops). The movement of water will need to be both physical and virtual. Physical movement of water can occur through changes in initial allocations …

How does the World Bank help agriculture?

The World Bank supports countries with sustainable intensification of agriculture through critical investments in irrigation infrastructure and key institutional reforms, which also help achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on efficient use of water as well as on eliminating hunger. Water is a critical input for agricultural production …

How does water move?

Physical movement of water can occur through changes in initial allocations of surface and groundwater resources mainly from the agricultural to urban, environmental, and industrial users. Water can also move virtually as the production of water intensive food, goods, and services is concentrated in water abundant localities …

How much water is needed for future demand?

However, future demand on water by all sectors will require as much as 25 to 40% of water to be re-allocated from lower to higher productivity and employment activities, particularly in water stressed regions. In most cases, such reallocation is expected to come from agriculture due to its high share of water use.

How much will agriculture grow in 2050?

Combined with the increased consumption of calories and more complex foods, which accompanies income growth in the developing world, it is estimated that agricultural production will need to expand by approximately 70% by 2050.

What are farmers responding to?

Farmers and their organizations are also often responding to highly distorted incentive frameworks in terms of water pricing and agricultural support policies , which further hinder positive developments in the sector.

How does agriculture affect water?

Agriculture both contributes to and faces water risks. For as much as agriculture is impacted by these changes, it also contributes to the problem as a major user and polluter of water resources in many regions. As such, agriculture has a central role to play in addressing these challenges. Irrigated agriculture remains the largest user …

What are the main sources of water pollution?

In addition, agriculture remains a major source of water pollution; agricultural fertiliser run-off, pesticide use and livestock effluents all contribute to the pollution of waterways and groundwater.

Which is the largest user of water?

Irrigated agriculture remains the largest user of water globally, a trend encouraged by the fact that farmers in most countries do not pay for the full cost of the water they use. Agriculture irrigation accounts for 70% of water use worldwide and over 40% in many OECD countries.

Which countries are most affected by water hotspots?

An OECD assessment of future water risk hotspots projects that without further action, Northeast China, Northwest India, and the Southwest United States will be among the most severely affected regions, with domestic and global repercussions.

Is agriculture dependent on water?

Please try again later. Agriculture production is highly dependent on water and increasingly subject to water risks. It is also the largest using sector and a major polluter of water. Improving agriculture’s water management is therefore essential to a sustainable and productive agro-food sector.

Is agriculture a water problem?

Agriculture is expected to face increasing water risks in the future. In recent years, agricultural regions around the globe have been subject to extensive and increasing water constraints. Major droughts in Chile and the United States have affected agricultural production while diminishing surface and groundwater reserves.

How does agriculture affect water quality?

How Industrial Agriculture Affects Our Water. Industrial agriculture is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the United States. 1 According to the 2017 National Water Quality Inventory of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 46 percent of the nation’s rivers and streams are in “poor biological condition,” and 21 percent …

What percentage of freshwater is used in agriculture?

Agriculture accounts for 80 percent (in Western states, up to 90 percent) of all freshwater use in the US. 55 Most US farms in the Midwest use center-pivot irrigation: long overhead sprinklers that rotate around a central axis. Center-pivot irrigation and similar methods encourage use of large quantities of water, draining underground aquifers.

What happens when fertilizer leaches into the groundwater?

The excess nutrients from fertilizer leech into surface and groundwater, causing algal blooms and nitrate contamination, impacting drinking water, recreational activities (such as swimming and boating), fishing/shell fishing and marine and aquatic ecology.

How many people rely on well water?

According to the EPA, 13 million households rely on private wells for drinking water. While public drinking water systems are regulated by the EPA, …

What are the two macronutrients in fertilizer?

Nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, are two of the main macronutrients in fertilizer that promote plant growth. Synthetic fertilizers containing both nitrogen and phosphorus are applied imprecisely to farm fields, often at rates far higher than what the plants need or what the soil can absorb.

Why are beaches closed?

Beaches may close due to algal blooms, and fishing activities may be severely limited. Excessive nutrient runoff in waterways can impact drinking water supplies and, in some cases, cause severe health problems. 45.

What is animal farming?

Industrial Animal Agriculture. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also known as factory farms, typically house thousands of animals, generating millions if not billions of gallons of animal waste per year .

How does water supply affect biodiversity?

The increasing demands placed on the global water supply threaten biodiversity and the supply of water for food production and other vital human needs. Water shortages already exist in many regions, with more than one billion people without adequate drinking water. In addition, 90% of the infectious diseases in developing countries are transmitted from polluted water. Agriculture consumes about 70% of fresh water worldwide; for example, approximately 1000 liters (L) of water are required to produce 1 kilogram (kg) of cereal grain, and 43,000 L to produce 1 kg of beef. New water supplies are likely to result from conservation, recycling, and improved water-use efficiency rather than from large development projects.

How does soil erosion affect crops?

Erosion adversely affects crop productivity by reducing the availability of water; by diminishing soil nutrients, soil biota, and soil organic matter; and by decreasing soil depth ( Pimentel et al. 2004 ). The reduction in the amount of water available to growing plants is considered the most harmful effect of erosion, because eroded soil absorbs 87% less water through infiltration than uneroded soil ( Pimentel et al. 2004 ). Soybeans and oats intercept approximately 10% of the rainfall in areas where they are planted, whereas tree canopies intercept 15% to 35% ( Pimentel et al. 2004 ). Thus, the removal of trees increases water runoff and reduces water availability.

How much water is in the atmosphere?

Earth’s atmosphere contains about 13 × 10 12 m 3 of water and is the source of all the rain that falls on Earth ( Shiklomanov and Rodda 2003 ). Yearly, about 151,000 quads (159,300 exajoules) of solar energy cause evaporation that moves about 577 × 10 12 m 3 of water from Earth’s surface into the atmosphere.

How much of the world’s precipitation falls on land?

Although only 14% of the water evaporation is from land, about 20% (115 × 10 12 m 3 per year) of the world’s precipitation falls on land, with the surplus water returning to the oceans through rivers ( Shiklomanov 1993 ). Thus, each year solar energy transfers a significant portion of water from oceans to land areas.

How much water does soybeans need?

On average, soybeans require about 6 million L water per ha for a yield of 3.0 t per ha ( Pimentel et al. 2004 ). In contrast, wheat, which produces less plant biomass than either corn or rice, requires only about 2.4 million L per ha of water for a yield of 2.7 t per ha (table 2).

Why do plants need water?

Plants require water for photosynthesis, growth, and reproduction. The water used by plants is nonrecoverable, because some water becomes a part of the chemical makeup of the plant and the remainder is released into the atmosphere. The processes of carbon dioxide fixation and temperature control require plants to transpire enormous amounts of water. Various crops use water at rates between 300 and 2000 L per kilogram (kg) dry matter of crops produced (table 2). The average global transfer of water into the atmosphere by vegetation transpiration from terrestrial ecosystems is estimated to be about 64% of all precipitation that falls to Earth ( Pimentel et al. 2004 ).

What is the problem with groundwater?

The rapid depletion of groundwater poses a serious threat to water supplies in world agricultural regions, especially for irrigation. Furthermore, when some aquifers are mined, the surface soil area tends to sink, making it impossible for the aquifer to be refilled ( Pimentel et al. 2004 ).

Why is water important for agriculture?

Using these different methods of water management is essential for agriculture, as the increasing population calls for an increase in food production.

What percentage of global water withdrawals are agricultural?

According to the International Water Management Institute , agriculture, which accounts for about 70% of global water withdrawals, is constantly competing with domestic, industrial and environmental uses for a scarce water supply.

What is irrigation management?

According to the World Bank, irrigation management works to upgrade and maintain irrigation systems, such as groundwater irrigation, that are already in place and expands the areas of irrigation to increase the amount of crops being produced. Another method is water management for rainfed agriculture. Rainfed agriculture is the most common method …

How does the Water Project work?

The Water Project works to combat this issue by helping to build water collection systems, such as weirs or sand dams .

What is the method of transporting water to crops in order to maximize the amount of crops produced?

One such method is irrigation management. Irrigation is a method of transporting water to crops in order to maximize the amount of crops produced. Many of the irrigation systems in place do not use the water in the most efficient way.

How much of the world’s food is rainfed?

According to the book, Rainfed Agriculture: Unlocking the Potential, 80% of the land farmed around the world is rainfed and it “contributes about 58% to the global food basket” (xiii).

Introduction and overview

An interesting observation arising from the preparation of this year’s special chapter on water and agriculture is how difficult it is to generalize about water. Almost any statement requires qualification.

Purpose and scope

This special chapter is primarily intended for agricultural policy-makers, water managers, researchers, students, development planners and agricultural project donors.

World water resources

Every day the hydrological cycle renews the world’s freshwater resources through evaporation and precipitation (see Box 8). The average annual rainfall over land is 110 000 km 3, but some 70 000 km 3 evaporate before reaching the sea. The remaining 40 000 km 3 are potentially available for human use.

The water sector and natural resource policy

In January 1992, the ICWE concluded that scarcity and misuse of freshwater pose a serious and growing threat to sustainable development and protection of the environment.

How does agriculture affect the environment?

Pollution caused by agriculture can contaminate water, food, fodder, farms, the natural environment and the atmosphere. Pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture can contaminate both groundwater and surface water, as can organic livestock wastes, antibiotics, silage effluents, and processing wastes from plantation crops.

What is water pollution?

Water quality in agriculture, in other words water pollution from and to agriculture, is a focus area for Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), under which different global and national projects and programs are identified.

What is the FAO’s mandate?

One of FAO’s mandates is to work closely with countries and other UN and non-UN organizations to monitor, control and mitigate pollution loads from agricultural activities, as well as the negative impacts of agricultural pollution on people’s health and the environment.

Is agriculture a marginal water user?

Agriculture as a user of marginal quality water (e.g. untreated wastewater): victim. With increasing demand for agricultural commodities, farmers are looking increasingly at non-conventional water sources of marginal quality , including wastewater. Domestic and municipal wastewater presents an attractive option because of its high nutrient content, …

Is agriculture a polluter?

Agriculture as a water po lluter: cause. Agriculture accounts for 70% of total water consumption worldwide and is the single-largest contributor of non-point-source pollution to surface water and groundwater.

Is wastewater a good source of water?

If adequately treated and safely applied, however, wastewater can be a valuable source of both water and nutrients and thereby contribute to food security and livelihood improvement. Organization: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)


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