Sunday, June 29, 2014

Reorganization of crop production and trade could save China's water supply

Seed Daily via SPX: China's rapid socioeconomic growth continues to tax national water resources - especially in the agricultural sector - due to increasing demands for food. And, because of the country's climate and geography, irrigation is now widespread, burdening rivers and groundwater supplies.

One solution to these growing problems, however, might be to reorganize the country's crop production and trade, especially in agricultural provinces such as Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Hebei, according to new report issued by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and School of Engineering and Applied Science and scientists in China and Japan.

The researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that reducing agricultural production in these provinces and importing food commodities from other provinces or nations instead could help China conserve more water. These provinces all use large volumes of water to produce crops that are later exported to wetter regions.

If balanced with more water-efficient irrigation systems locally, restructuring these regions could reduce national water use while avoiding an excessive geographically centralized agricultural production.

"Our analysis provides a framework for understanding how such policies would benefit China's water use in the future," said study co-author Denise Mauzerall, professor of environmental engineering and international affairs. In particular, corn production and trade at the domestic level might be an area to target as changes could significantly reduce national water use for irrigation."...

Irrigation of rice fields, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China, ca.1900-1919. A lantern slide taken by American missionaries

No comments: