Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Water management

6 October 2020

This book (publication date 23 October 2020), takes an interdisciplinary look at groundwater management and sustainability. It covers some food-relevant topics, including the sustainability of groundwater used in agricultural production and trade and the political economy of groundwater irrigation in India.

8 July 2020

This BBC story looks at a new initiative to heat greenhouses in East Anglia using waste heat from nearby water treatment plants. According to the story, the technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating greenhouses as well as reduce reliance on imported produce.

18 February 2020

This textbook uses case studies and models to present an interdisciplinary perspective on the interactions between food, energy and water.

9 December 2019

This book reframes the debate around water and food security, focusing on the rights of marginalised people instead of only discussing irrigated agriculture.

22 October 2019

This report from the Food Ethics Council sets out how UK food businesses and government could learn from the Danish food system. Although Denmark and the UK have similarities, e.g. in climate, Denmark ranked 7th in the 2018 Food Sustainability Index while the UK ranked 24th. 

13 March 2019

Over half a million acres of irrigated farmland may have to be permanently taken out of agricultural use in the San Joaquin valley in California in order to conserve groundwater, according to this report by the non-profit Public Policy Institute of California. The report suggests using the land for generating solar energy, restoring ecosystems or managing flood risk by restoring floodplains.

26 February 2019

The 2019 Green Alliance Annual Debate discusses the ways in which earth observation and data science can improve our understanding of and ability to address environmental issues - for example, monitoring deforestation or water levels in reservoirs in real time through satellite images.

29 January 2019

This book, by Jeremy Allouche, Carl Middleton and Dipak Gyawali, describes and critiques different understandings of the concept of the “nexus” between water, food and energy.

12 November 2018

Growing millet next to a woody shrub native to West Africa could increase biomass by over 900% compared to growing millet alone, according to this paper. The shrub, Guiera senegalensis J.F. Gmel, has tap roots that can reach water deep in the soil. The study traced the movement of water from the shrub’s deep roots to the millet stems in a simulated drought.

25 September 2018

The flooding caused by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina has drowned millions of chickens and thousands of pigs that were left on farms during the storm. The floodwaters have also caused at least 13 manure storage lagoons to overspill, spreading potentially dangerous bacteria and excess nutrients to the surrounding areas.

31 July 2018

Farmers in Britain and other European countries have been affected by the ongoing heatwave and dry weather. Oxfordshire farmer Lesley Chandler told the Guardian, “It’s like a tinderbox out here… Just a spark could set it all alight” (read more here). Combine harvesters can create sparks if their blades hit a stone.

24 July 2018

This paper surveys 195 cities in the United States and finds that the number of water conservation measures adopted in a city depend on both the climate (drier cities tend to have more water conservation measures than wetter cities) and political leanings (cities that lean towards the Democrats have more water conservation measures than Republican-leaning cities).

11 June 2018

A project in Ladakh, India, creates “ice stupas”, a form of artificial glacier, to complement intermittent water flow from retreating natural glaciers. Water from streams is sprayed from vertical pipes during the winter, freezing into pointed mounds, which melt slowly throughout the year, irrigating crops in the summer.

26 May 2018

Researchers from Nasa have used satellite data to identify areas where freshwater reserves have increased or decreased. The study found that in 14 regions, the changes were likely due to human factors (e.g. groundwater pumping), and in 8 areas, the changes were caused mainly by climate (e.g. drought or ice-sheet melting). Freshwater availability decreased in several areas including northern India, north-east China, the Caspian and Aral Seas and some of the Middle East.

9 May 2018

In this TED talk, ocean expert Nancy Rabalais discusses the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico - an area of the ocean where there isn’t enough oxygen to support sea life. Fertiliser runoff from farmland further up the Mississippi River is causing the dead zone, according to Rabalais. She says that solutions could include growing perennial grains and using precision fertilisation.

26 March 2018

A report (PDF link) tested bottled water in nine different countries and found that 242 out of 259 bottles contained small pieces of plastic. The report suggests that at least some of the plastic particles may be coming from the packaging or the bottling process.

21 January 2018

This article examines global overuse of freshwater resources and how more sustainable irrigation practices could impact other environmental and developmental targets in the SDGs. It finds that the main likely effects are 1) increased food prices due to lower productivity and/or production costs as water prices increase, and 2) cropland expansion and associated extra GHG emissions of 0.87 gigatonnes of carbon.

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