This is how the agricultural sector saves water

3 September 2021

Water is an essential resource for life on the planet, so being efficient when consuming water is a goal for everyone at any level. In Spain 70% of the water is used in agriculture, thanks to which we can eat the healthy products that the Earth gives us. The ability of the agricultural sector to use water efficiently is an example to society and all the other industries.

How water is being saved in agriculture

In the last decade our country has managed to reduce by a 15% its consumption of water by hectare! This is a noteworthy advance in the search of the total efficiency and sustainability of the sector. These important advances are the result of technological development and its application to the field. Some of these improvements are:

  • Irrigation on demand: in this case we are not talking about an irrigation system but about a way of adapting irrigation and water consumption to the specific needs of a crop, the climate, or the time of the year, thus optimising this practice and providing a more efficient use to the sector of this valuable natural resource.
  • Precision irrigation: it has a very high efficiency (between 85% to 90%) as the water distribution easily reaches the surroundings of the plants, the soil from which they feed and even them directly. In this kind of irrigation, the amount of water gets to the ground without touching the stems, from which evaporates very easily. Some of these precision systems can be:
    • Lower flow hoses: an innovative mist irrigation system using micro-sprinkler belts that requires less pressure when irrigating, being more precise and saves water. Thanks to its uniform and efficient flow, irrigation is more homogeneous and falls more distributed, avoiding ponds and water waste.
    • Drip irrigation: an efficient system for horticultural crops especially in climates similar to the Mediterranean climate. It applies water directly to the roots, just where it is more needed, and this water can even be accompanied with nutrients, which means a better exploitation.
  • Water accumulation systems: Taking advantage of this natural resource seems like the easiest option to save water, giving a new cycle to the one that falls from the clouds. It is an almost ancestral method as it was used in the arid lands that were conquered by the Roman Empire. Anything which goal is to accumulate water can be considered a water accumulation system, like aljibes and underground tanks, among others.

Technology at the service of sustainability

It is very clear that technological innovation can be key when it comes to combating unavoidable effects of climate change, like water scarcity. An example of this is the is the achievement of savings of more than half of the irrigation in the production of an apple: one unit of this fruit of 200g needs an average of 70 water litres, and R&D got to produce it with only 31 litres, a considerable diminution that can be an indicator that this is the right way and the one of irrigation trends.

But technology not only produces new tools for direct contact with the field: It is also responsible for finding digital solutions that can be used for greater efficiency in irrigation, such as:

  • Campaign planification software.
  • Sensor analysis.
  • Crops simulation.
  • Irrigation recalculation.
  • Weather predictions.
  • Apps for smartphones.

In conclusion, given the vital importance that water has to all of us, and the living species that inhabit our planet, we have to work to continue to use is responsibly.