07 October 2019

Agriculture, a key sector in the management of our water resources

As part of the Empreinte eau [Water Footprint] project, the CRA-W is developing strategies to measure the water consumption of farms. The qualitative aspects are, in turn, being addressed in other projects (Alt4Cer, Qualaiter, Enviprai, etc.).

Agriculture, a key sector in the management of our water resources

Water is essential to life and a resource to be protected. In certain environments, its supply can be threatened. Its use may also be restricted due to inadequate quality, or due to its being a vector for changes in the natural environment resulting from the enrichment of certain substances (e.g. eutrophication caused by nitrogen and phosphorus).

The activity of the agricultural sector can contribute to the scarcity of water. Irrigation is the primary cause, but its quality can also deteriorate as a result of, for example, the use of plant protection products or fertilisers.

To estimate the volume of water consumed, the quantity entering and leaving the farm is assessed by modelling, taking into account biological processes such as evapotranspiration, and water transfers via purchased and sold products (public water network, livestock feed, marketed milk, etc.).

Approximately twenty farmers keen to determine the consequences of their activities on the water problem have joined the project. They have been issued water metres to record their activity and consumption. They are thus helping to develop a reference frame for the water consumed from the distribution network and/or taken directly from the environment. This collaboration ensures consistency between modelling and field data. Even more importantly, it makes it possible to identify practices that favour the rational use of water.

This approach will establish future water consumption benchmarks for the sector and advise users of the potential for improvement strategies according to the technical and economic goals under consideration.

DGO3 funding, in partnership with the DAEA (Directorate of Agricultural Economic Analysis)

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#Water resources