The area of farmland requiring irrigation in the future could be four times larger than currently predicted, according to a new study. This increases the risk of water shortage.
Studies conducted by the University of Reading, Bergen University and Princeton University show that; Since computer models cannot fully calculate many uncertainties, including population growth and access to water, the amount of agricultural land that will require human intervention for irrigation in 2050 is unfortunately seriously miscalculated and ignored. The authors of the study, published in the Newsletter of Geophysical Research Letters, argue that experts and policy makers should first address all kinds of scenarios to prepare for potential water shortages that could cause serious environmental damage.
We Make Wrong Decisions
- A postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Reading Faculty of Environmental Construction and co-author of this study, Dr. Samuele Lo Piano:
- “Assuming the size of future irrigation areas means we’re looking at many potential challenges and making the wrong decisions,” he says.
- “If the amount of water required to grow crops is much higher than calculated, this could put a serious pressure on tap water resources as well as agriculture.
- Our findings show that strategies and plans must be in place to deal with unexpected water shortages, in line with a range of possible scenarios. “
Modeling is often used by policy makers to identify strategies aimed at achieving environmental well-being or managing climate change. If these models are not correct, policies run the risk of being affected by it. According to the new study, the irrigation area projections of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and similar organizations were based on other assumptions, ignoring the future irrigation amount.
We do not know how much water will be available in the future.
The study suggests that the expansion of potential global irrigation areas is twice as high as suggested by previous models. Or, he emphasizes that in the worst case scenario it would be four times more. A researcher at Bergen University and Princeton University, who is also another author of the study, Dr. Arnald Puy says: “When you design a model, there are many alternative ways to formulate it. If you choose just one path, you are ignoring other alternatives and ignoring extremely reasonable scenarios.
“Previous irrigation land models, for example, assumed that we perfectly knew how much crop area we would have in 2050 or how much the population would increase or what the available water would be. But the truth is we don’t know for sure. And the previous models are designed like we know. ” “Farmland where it is not sufficient to irrigate crops with rainwater alone is often irrigated by channeling water from rivers or natural springs, sprinkler systems or controlled floods. In the future, increased irrigation area will mean more water consumption, machinery, energy consumption and fertilization, and therefore more greenhouse gas emissions. ”
The authors of the study hope to use new knowledge to devise flexible strategies for managing water and agricultural lands, which will work both in the current situation and in situations where environmental conditions over water and soil resources deteriorate.