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Farming’s huge feet

One hundred and thirty five litres of water go into the production of a single egg. For a kilogram of wheat, it’s 1,300. Over the course of its lifetime, a typical cow consumes more than 3 million litres – that’s 2,400 to each hamburger. The figures (all global averages) are startling. And, according Dutch academic and creator of the “water footprint” concept Arjen Hoekstra, present a compelling case for greater transparency in the food industry.

Speaking at the Compassion in World Farming’s annual Peter Roberts Memorial lecture in London on Monday night, Hoekstra said that a product’s water footprint – in other words the amount of freshwater used over the various stages of the production chain – can be significantly reduced if farmers, governments and consumers take action.

For the agriculture industry, this means adopting precision irrigation (taking water directly to the plant’s roots, rather than spraying it widely which can save up to 50% of water); for governments, allowing water footprinting to influence other policy areas, such as trade and foreign policy; and for the public, demanding better labelling of products, Hoekstra said.

Whether greater consumer awareness leads to better choices, however, is subject to debate. Growing understanding of the links between meat and climate change have, after all, tallied with huge rises in meat consumption – which is expected to double again by 2050.

To work out your own water footprint, visit www.waterfootprint.org

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匿名 | Anonymous




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Excellent, really good

Water is an issue we have to face up to until we come up with a solution. There's something that I don't understand though, and I was wondering if there's any kind soul out there who may be able to enlighten me. Is saving water actually of any use at all?

We personally consume very little water since most of it simply passes through our bodies, and 90% of it isn't used up. So where does all the water go? Apart from the water that evaporates and that which is polluted, it all returns to nature. The problem is this: if you don't use the water from waterworks, surely you're not helping to save it. This is a bit of a mystery, and I look forward to a reply.

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匿名 | Anonymous



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reply to comment 1

Please go check an article on Sannong forum at Xinhuanet.com: Look! High production despite the lack of irrigation during severe drought! Will bring any good by saving water? Yes, but not much. Saving water plans will lead to much macro losses. Water in agriculture has been a world problem for a long time. Frequent droughts and soil erosion leave more power to the weather in determining harvest. Sometimes farmers desperately wish for fair conditions for farming even not in the hope of harvesting. In the farm fields that are within the area where more than 300mm of rain fall annually, they actually possess more water than directly needed for the entire growth period of grains. In fields as such, we can build facilities to block more than 200mm water and bring it to the water-needing layer of the grain root. In doing so, it efficiently controls the losses of water, especially losses that occur during water storage and application, and then uses the water saved to deal with areas that suffer from droughts. Therefore it would also reduce the flood risk as well as the impact of the flood, if it happens at all.

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Legend In Energy Award Winner AEE 2009

ripple after ripple: a dialogue with Mr. Zhou XinLei

It seems that Mr. Lei Xinzhou has suffered from China's agricultural development during the past twenty years. As a result, he came up with a strategy, which is simple to implement and is expected to have immediately effective results with reasonable investments. However due to his lack of credential among the mainstream agricultural experts, the materialization of his great idea in wide application kept getting postponed. Lack of resources, such as money, support etc, despite his efforts to blow and broadcast, his followers are numbered. From my short phone conversation with him, I didn't completely understand what his good idea or its actual effects really are. However, I am quite convinced of his seriousness and enthusiasm about his work. After all, he paid out of his own pocket for his campaigning trip to BeiJing and LanZhou. Probably, he might be a bit overconfident in claiming that the successful implementation of his ingenious and creative idea will even make YuanLongPing's trick pale. Nevertheless, there might still be some truth in it. I was intended to ask him about the benefits of saving water, but now an even bigger question is entailed and can't be readily sorted in a short time frame. I share this here since I suppose ChinaDialogue is good channel for the global flow of conversation. Aren't a lot things work that way too? One's accomplishments are more easily known outside his own unit. I would like to suggest the readers across the ocean spend some time to discover talents like Lei Xinzhou. Being a talent like a Nobel Laureate is surely wonderful, but difficult as well. Isn't being the first one to recognize a potential talent also exhilarating? This is indeed an important topic.

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Legend In Energy Award Winner AEE 2009 (small award, no cash value either, however an award is an award.)