The benefits of sustainable irrigation

Increased irrigation could help feed billions globally (/stock)

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | November 14th, 2018

Irrigation, a controlled method of watering crops using pipes, canels, and other systems, has long been used to boost harvests and food production. But irrigating crops is an expensive process, and a lack of fresh water and weaker, underfunded infrastructure makes this method often inaccessible to many less developed regions.

Lorenzo Rosa from the University of California, Berkeley is determined to make a case for increased irrigation globally. By biophysically examining cropland across several nations and determining the water consumption of these areas, they were able to deduce that global irrigation could increase by 48%, as there is enough freshwater to contribute an additional 408 cubic km of water per year to different croplands.

Many crops globally are rain-fed, and relying only on rain can be shaky at best. Lorenzo’s team estimates that by increasing global irrigation, the extra water could help grow enough crops to feed an additional 2.8 billion people–and that is certainly a cause worth pressing.

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