Water is the single most important factor to growing food for the world. Only 0.7 percent of the world’s water is available for agriculture use. With the global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, farmers must feed more people using the same amount of resources. March 22, 2017 was designated World Water Day, an effort to make people aware that water is the key limiting factor in agriculture. Teddy Bekele is Vice President of I.T. with WinField United.
“Seventy percent of all fresh water is used for agricultural purposes,” he said. “So one of the things we want to make sure of whether folks live in the country farming or live in the city just going about their day to day life, that you’re aware of water issues and water consumption and you also make sure as a result of having that awareness that you’re conscious of how you use water.”
The challenge ahead for agriculture as the world population grows is to produce more food while using the same amount of resources including water. “You have to essentially maximize your crop for every drop,” said Bekele, “and so the idea is that by using technology and sound agronomic insights, you’re making better use of this limited resource you have available to you.”
Bekele says a first step for farmers in making better use of water is to be better grounded in the agronomy of growing crops. “Really understand not only the impact of water but also the impact of the other nutrients that go along with it such as nitrogen, potassium and sulfur.” Bekele added, “As you understand the agronomics, now one of the things you can do is start using some of the technology that can help you make better decisions like remote sensing.” Remote sensing can involve satellite imagery or drone imagery or aerial imagery so you can see what areas of fields are stressed so you can focus your attention there. Then you might use a crop model to be able to predict what might be happening on the field and where that stress might have a larger impact. As a result of knowing that, now you know which areas to take care of and if you do have an irrigated field, where do you turn the irrigator on to make sure you get the most out of that for your investment.”
WinField United has teamed with National Geographic to form the Uncharted Waters Initiative.
“National Geographic has been on this awareness campaign to really talk about water and to maximize the use of water all around and then when water is limited, what impacts does that have on the world.” said Bekele. “We see that same impact in farming so at Winfield United we’ve partnered up with them so that we can make sure we tell that same story but with a lens on agriculture. We want to make sure you maximize your water use, whether you irrigate your fields or rely on Mother Nature to deliver that for you.”
National Geographic is helping WinField United bring this important message to consumers through the Uncharted Waters™ website www.nationalgeographic.com/unchartedwaters.