World Water Day 2013
22 March 2013, Brussels — In honour of World Water Day, EuropaBio highlights the contribution of biotechnology to sustainable agriculture by helping enable conservation agriculture practices, saving water and reducing the resources needed to grow our food supply.
Farming currently accounts for 70% of global water usage, and by 2030 it is estimated that nearly half the world’s population will be living under severe water stress. Reducing agriculture’s share of water resources will be a key goal for future generations as food production expands to feed a population of 9 billion by 2050.
How do biotech crops help reduce water and other input usage?
Agricultural biotechnology can play a significant role in enabling farmers to improve yield by using water more sustainably and helping to scope with water scarcity. Two main ways in which this works are by reducing water loss and improving drought tolerance.
- Agricultural biotech practices that reduce the amount of ploughing required before planting crops have already been used for more than 15 years. This means the soil is not inverted which helps to trap soil moisture. A new study in February showed that Brazilian farmers using conservation tillage practices are expected to reduce water consumption by nearly 168 billion litres from now through 2022.
- By providing improved seeds that can make the best out of the existing farmland while using less input, energy and water, biotechnology gives life to the ‘sustainable intensification’ concept. A good example of this is in the US where drought has affected last summer major agricultural lands, a new drought-tolerant maize is now available, enabling farmers to produce more food per drop of water.