Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Minimising water use, maintaining productivity

07.01.2014
As the climate warms up, more and more farmers in Switzerland need to irrigate their crops. This is problematic because many rivers carry less water. If the increase in water use is limited, agricultural production will not be significantly lowered. This conclusion was reached on the basis of models created in a project of the National Research Programme "Sustainable Water Management" (NRP 61).

Climate change will lead to regional water shortages. If the use of river water is not regulated, both water quality and biodiversity could be negatively affected. Overuse can be avoided by redirecting water from larger bodies of water via pipes and distribution networks. This comes at a considerable price and has an impact on the environment.

Testing options on the basis of case studies

Researchers of an NRP 61 project investigated alternatives not in terms of sourcing more water but rather in terms of reducing the agricultural need for water. Based on models and an interdisciplinary approach, they tested a variety of options for a dry area (Plain of the Broye) and an area less dry (Lake of Greifen) up to 2050. They also took into consideration a number of economic and political conditions.

"The aim is to maintain productivity while minimising the use of water and the impact on the environment," says Jürg Fuhrer, leader of the project "Water demand in Swiss agriculture and sustainable adaptive options for land and water management" (AGWAM) at Agroscope.

The authors of the study have reached the conclusion that, even if the climate changes, the cultivation of agricultural land will remain viable, at least theoretically, in areas that are threatened by droughts such as the Plain of the Broye. Farmers in these areas need to limit the climate-related increase of water use and at the same time the losses in production and income. The necessary adaptations include improving irrigation efficiency, changing the mix of cultivated crops to include more winter crops such as winter rape seed or barley, adapting soil management and adjusting the organisation of agricultural land, i.e. which crops are best grown in which place.

Step-by-step change to more water-sensitive production

The aspect of the study that deals with farm management shows that farms will take measures to reduce their water needs if the price of water rises and water quotas are introduced. An environmental performance analysis shows, however, that agricultural production will continue to negatively impact the environment even if all measures considered in the study are taken. Further steps towards a resource-efficient practice are necessary, in particular, if the emission of greenhouse gases is to be reduced.

Society, the authorities and politicians will have to think about introducing incentives and rules to encourage a step-by-step transition towards an agricultural production that is more economical with water. Alternatively, they can implement purely technical and less ecological measures to maintain the status quo. His team's study, says Fuhrer, provides the scientific basis for a discussion which will become increasingly pertinent in view of the expected climate change and the related risks for agriculture.

(*) Jürg Fuhrer, Danielle Tendall, Tommy Klein, Niklaus Lehmann, and Annelie Holzkämper (2013). Water Demand in Swiss Agriculture - Sustainable Adaptive Options for Land and Water Management to Mitigate Impacts of Climate Change (NRP61 Project AGWAM)

http://www.agroscope.ch/publikationen/02121/04397/index.html?lang=en

1st Agroscope Sustainability Conference

On 23 January 2014, the Institute of Sustainability Studies at Agroscope will organise a conference on "Water in agriculture - today and tomorrow". The researchers will present and discuss new insights and approaches for adapting to the changing climate. The political environment in which this adaptation will have to take place will also be discussed.

On this subject

More detailed information and registration (by 14 January) for the Agroscope Sustainability Conference on "Water in Agriculture - today and tomorrow":

http://www.agroscope.ch/veranstaltungen/00610/index.html?lang=de&direction=asc&orderby

The National Research Programme “Sustainable Water Management” (NRP 61)
The National Research Programme “Sustainable Water Management” (NRP 61) is developing scientific principles and methods for the sustainable management of water resources, which are under increasing pressure. NRP 61 explores the effects of climate and social changes on these resources and identifies the risks and future conflicts associated with their use. NRP 61 operates with CHF 12 million for a research duration of four years. www.nfp61.ch

Contact

Professor Jürg Fuhrer
Air Pollution / Climate group
Institute of Sustainability Studies at Agroscope
Reckenholzstrasse 191
CH-8046 Zurich
Tel.: +41 44 377 75 05
E-mail: juerg.fuhrer@agroscope.admin.ch

Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw
Further information:
http://www.snf.ch/en/researchinFocus/media/press-releases/Pages/default.aspx

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht How algae could save plants from themselves
11.05.2016 | Carnegie Institution for Science

nachricht Biofeedback system designed to control photosynthetic lighting
10.05.2016 | American Society for Horticultural Science

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Computational high-throughput screening finds hard magnets containing less rare earth elements

Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.

The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...

Im Focus: Atomic precision: technologies for the next-but-one generation of microchips

In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...

Im Focus: Researchers demonstrate size quantization of Dirac fermions in graphene

Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices

Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.

Im Focus: Graphene: A quantum of current

When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene

In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...

Im Focus: Transparent - Flexible - Printable: Key technologies for tomorrow’s displays

The trend-forward world of display technology relies on innovative materials and novel approaches to steadily advance the visual experience, for example through higher pixel densities, better contrast, larger formats or user-friendler design. Fraunhofer ISC’s newly developed materials for optics and electronics now broaden the application potential of next generation displays. Learn about lower cost-effective wet-chemical printing procedures and the new materials at the Fraunhofer ISC booth # 1021 in North Hall D during the SID International Symposium on Information Display held from 22 to 27 May 2016 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Economical processing

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

International expert meeting “Health Business Connect” in France

19.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Great apes communicate cooperatively

25.05.2016 | Life Sciences

Thermo-Optical Measuring method (TOM) could save several million tons of CO2 in coal-fired plants

25.05.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Computational high-throughput screening finds hard magnets containing less rare earth elements

25.05.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>