Agriculture is an important part of life. It grows food in order for us to eat and live. In fact, you might say that it’s far more important than both energy and entertainment. The fact is that the Western Cape is currently experiencing a terrible drought. This has knock-on effects to a range of sectors, with the most vital being that of agriculture.
Agriculture needs to have a constant supply of clean, usable water. This allows farmers to grow crops and keep livestock from dehydrating and dying. If our food supply is threatened, we will soon face far-reaching and dire consequences. We need to do everything possible to stop that from happening.
Here are a few ways in which the agriculture industry can benefit from better water practices.
Creating desalination plants
There’s a buzzword that is floating around many media sites and that is “desalination”. It is touted as the ultimate problem-solver and the be all when it comes to fixing the drought crisis, but that’s not quite true. Right now, the Western Cape’s government is treating it as a deus ex machina instead of looking at other long-term water-saving methods, such as scaling the water supply.
If you didn’t know, desalination is the process of purifying water, removing salts, minerals, and chemicals from it and making it drinkable. It is typically done with seawater, but is useful for a range of other water conditions.
There are two main types of desalination. The first is called reverse osmosis and has water forced through a membrane, which is porous. These holes are only small enough for water molecules to pass through and nothing else. The second – which includes several sub-types – is performed by heating water and collecting the vapour. This second method uses chemicals and other agents from being collected with the superheated water vapour.
And while these methods may sound easy, they do come with a steep price. Desalination plants are expensive to build and require constant maintenance, especially the version with the membrane. But all is not lost. For agriculture facilities near the ocean, this would be an excellent idea in order to save water.
Typically, farms are reliant on dams and rainfall in order to water their crops. This becomes a problem during droughts as there is no longer enough water, which can lead to a smaller yield. The entire process has a terrible knock-on effect that eventually concerns the consumer and their wallet.
Several farms sharing a single plant would go a long way in bringing down their prices. Desalination systems don’t just utilise seawater, but can work for other types of run off. Having a plat feed of stagnant dams, for example, may be one way to have a constant stream of clean water.
Another way in which the agriculture industry can fight the rainless seasons is by building more dams. Again, this is another process that sounds easy, but it is both time consuming and expensive. For example, a large portion of land needs to be set aside for the dam. Afterwards, all manner of construction crews will need to be brought in in order to create the dam.
Farmers also won’t be able to fill up the new dam immediately and may need to wait for the rainy season, or pump it in from somewhere. This too adds to the cost as it’s a wasted resource until it becomes fully usable.
Call in consultants
There is a range of other ways in which the agriculture industry can save water and be water-wise. One option is to consult with a professional service that deals in water products. They will be able to inspect all of your land, operations, and machinery. This will lead the company to compile a full report on where water can be saved and/or reused.