Agriculture, the largest industry in the world, is also the biggest threat to the environment. Inefficient food production and harmful agriculture subsidies are causing deforestation, water shortages and pollution.
Agriculture is by far the biggest user of water. Because of this, the water that a person 'eats' everyday contained in food products is much larger than the volume of water a person drinks. Of all freshwater withdrawn for human use, industrial and household uses account for 20 and 10 percent respectively, while agriculture consumes on average around 70 percent and much more in some locations. Furthermore, it is expected that by 2030 the global average agricultural water withdrawal for irrigation itself will be some 14 percent higher.
No water, no crops
Without water, there is no life. Agriculture withdraws the vast majority of water taken from rivers, lakes and underground sources. Water is delivered through irrigation systems using methods that range from the simple to the elaborate: a farmer drawing water from a well, to the Indus Basin Irrigation system which distributes water over more than 14 million hectares, an area about the size of England. Making the required amount of water available is? only possible in many cases through? the damming and diversion of rivers and extensive pumping of underground aquifers, often destroying the very ecosystems that make agriculture possible.
Agriculture wastes 60% or 1,500 trillion liters, of the 2,500 trillion liters of water it uses each year - this is 70% of the world's accessible water. Many big food producing countries like the US, China, India, Pakistan, Australia and Spain have reached, or are close to reaching, their renewable water resource limits.
The lack of sustainable agriculture harms the environment by sucking rivers, lakes and underground water sources dry, increasing soil salinity and thereby destroying its quality, and by washing pollutants and pesticides into rivers that in turn destroy downstream ecosystems such as corals and breeding grounds for fish in coastal areas.
The main causes are:
- leaky irrigation systems
- wasteful field application methods
- pollution by chemicals, and
- cultivation of thirsty crops not suited to the environment.
A WWF report identifies cotton, rice, sugar cane and wheat as the 'thirstiest' crops in 9 large river basins rich in biodiversity. Together, these crops account for 58% of the world's irrigated farmland.
Almost half the fiber used to make clothes and other textiles worldwide come from cotton. Although only 2.4% of the world's cropland is planted with cotton, it accounts for 24% of the world's insecticide market and 11% of sale of global pesticides. 73% of global cotton harvest comes from areas under irrigation. It can take more than 5,000 gallons of water to produce a single T-shirt and pair of jeans.
About 145 million tons of sugar is produced in 121 countries each year. Of this 60 - 70% is produced from sugar cane with the remainder coming from sugar beet. The environmental impacts from sugar production today - has a wide range of negative impacts on soil, water and air. The Great Barrier Reef off Australia's coast, which suffers from effluents and sediment from sugar farms, is one such case.
Sugar is one of the most 'thirsty' crops in several large river basins, including the Niger River in West Africa, the Zambezi in Southern Africa, the Indus River in Pakistan, the Mekong River in SE Asia, and the Konya Basin in Turkey.
Half the world depends on rice – as a food staple, source of income, or both. More than 90% of the rice that reaches our tables is grown in Asia. Traditional farming needs 3,000 to 5,000 liters of water to produce a kilo of rice.
The AWE Solution
AWE is working on several game changing technologies for the agriculture industry. Using Ionized Water alone has proved to grow plants faster, bigger and stronger and deliver bigger yields. We will also testing the theory that we can use less water to get similar yields with/without various fertilizers. We are also developing what could be a break through fertilizer that uses Ionizer water as the carrier of fertilizer that could reduce the amount needed to grow crops by 75%.