by Amina Day Ojijo
Much water is wasted on many farms due to a lack of knowledge on how to use it properly for agricultural production and other domestic uses.
The modern farmer must be prepared to face the challenge of water scarcity in agriculture while increasing food production for a rapidly growing population. This means that farmers must simultaneously increase yields while using water in a sustainable way.
Use water with caution
Agriculture is the largest water user, accounting for more than 70% of the world’s freshwater diversions. In the agricultural sector, water has a number of uses, including irrigation, spraying, livestock and domestic use, among others. Unfortunately, only a small portion of this water is used to produce high-value crops, much of which is lost mainly through evaporation, sweating and absorption by weeds.
In irrigated and rainfed cropping systems, water productivity can be improved by selecting appropriate crop types, reducing unnecessary water losses and maintaining healthy and vigorous crops through optimal water, nutrient and agronomic management.
Adopt smart agriculture
Increasing water productivity is an important element of better water management for sustainable agriculture, food security and a healthy ecosystem.
Farmers are encouraged to practice smart agriculture in the wake of climate change, given the increased variation in rainfall distribution. Agriculture also faces increasing competition from non-agricultural users such as industry.
The main challenge facing water management in agriculture is the misuse of water. This can be overcome by converting to crops of greater economic value, adopting alternative drought-tolerant crops, better soil and water management practices such as mulching, which lead to an increase in soil water storage in the root zone of the plant.
Practice sustainable agricultural methods
Farmers can also benefit from organic ecological and organic (OA) farming practices such as conservation tillage, intercropping, relay crops and crop rotation. Farmers can also grow crops with low water demand to optimize water use.
Water scarcity pressure is a constant and ever-increasing problem for arid and semi-arid areas. To produce food, many farmers in these regions now use drip irrigation as one of the strategies for effective water management. Irrigation has the potential to stimulate agriculture in communities living in these arid areas.
Drip irrigation uses water efficiently
Improving irrigation systems allows farmers to be more efficient in their overall operations and more competitive. It is certainly advantageous to use drip irrigation. It is known that this method transforms dry areas into green fields, increasing incomes and offering many new opportunities for economic progress in these regions.
However, farmers must take into account the benefits they obtain when using irrigation as part of sustainable water management. This requires the right choice of crops and growing period. For example, it is advisable to grow a high-value crop that takes less time rather than a late maturing crop such as corn that has low yields. Flood irrigation should be reduced due to high water use and even waste.
The choice of crops to irrigate is important
Water use efficiency must also be taken into account in terms of replacing water-intensive crops with low-consumption crops. This also includes the reallocation of water from low-value crops to higher-value crops.
Therefore, it is very important to reduce water use for agro-cultural purposes and make water resources more sustainable. It is an issue that requires combined agro-economic practices, skills, knowledge and efficiency. Farmers should use appropriate agronomic techniques to grow crops that are best suited to their environment, using as little water as possible, whether for irrigation or rainfed production.