Posts Tagged ‘water’

Sustainable intensification

November 18, 2012

This is what the world needs. It is gratifying to note that this has been highlighted in the magazine Stockholm Waterfront. There is a program: More crop per drop.  In this respect it is important not o lose crop because of for instance unnecessary lack of required nutrients.

I seems to me that the “water sector” has been slow to realize or at least really recognize this relation. Intensive agriculture may have drawbacks for water quality. However, the intensification should be sustainable, which means  consideration of both agronomic and environmental aspects.

It is a formidable challenge, but inspiring.


Progress in Science – drought resistance.

February 16, 2009

Sorghum in an important crop in the drier areas of the world. Its genome has now been analyzed and interesting patterns have been found. Rice geneticist Takuju Sasaki, Japan: “ Understanding how major cereal crops can be made to adapt to conditions of high temperature, high light intensity and limited water supply, which can be elucidated from the sorghum genome sequence, will make a great impact on agriculture.” (Science Magazine, 30 Jan 2009, page 573). Well, we need all help we can get for development in this direction..

Drought in China.

February 9, 2009

Black headlines in the daily papers. Not unexpected but still troubling. Many farmers in the world face the situation that the land no longer can support them. And still more live on water resources which are being emptied and will dry up. There are always problems in some part of the world, but this does not seem to be local and occasional. The situation at large seems labile, problems increase and the reserves are low.

What we can do here is to use our resources in the best way possible, to build systems which are both productive, efficient, sustainable and with few environmental drawbacks.

Water – time to talk about Peak Water.

December 18, 2008

In the current issue of WaterFront the term “Peak Water” is put forward, in parallell to Peak Oil meaning that the availability of usable water begins to be strained so that future increase in needs cannot be satisfied. (A couple of days ago Peak Oil and Peak Phosphorus was mentioned in this blog. A symptom of something? And we seem to have passed also Peak Money).


For water it is essential to economize the use in regions of scarcity. The food production will be affected. In Sweden we are favoured with a fairly reliable water surplus.


In Science Magazine 5 December another water issue is discussed: the use of brackish water or even salt water for plant production.. That would open up new possibilities. It is not directly available, except for some bioenergy production, but plant breeding and system development might open up a new resource

Improving yields means improving water efficiency.

September 30, 2008

How use water most efficiently? There is a term: Water Use Efficiency, WUE. It can be expressed in different ways. For cereals the unit kg grain per cubic meter water is most natural.

There seems to have been a divide between disciplines. Water scientists have little considered agronomics. But now some reports stress what seems self-evident: good yields give favourable WUE. WUE is low if the yield is restricted by nutrient deficiency or bad stands.


A couple of examples from reference 1 about work in Syria: WUE without irrigation and fertilizer was 0,6 kg per cubic meter and was raised to 1.0 with 50 kg nitrogen. With irrigation nitrogen raised WUE from 0.9 to 2.3.

Good yields utilize water better.

But excess use or fertilizers is harmful in all respects. Adaptation according to requirements is an important development goal.



  1. Katerji et al 2008. Water efficiency of crops … Eur. J. Agronomy 28, 493-507
  2. Fan et al 2005. Long term fertilization effects on grain yield, water use efficiency .. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 108, 313-329.