Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Web tool successfully measures farms’ water footprint

Date:
March 20, 2014
Source:
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Summary:
Enter some data into a computer and you'll find out how much water farms use. The global implications of this study include the consequences of water sent overseas. This includes water used to grow crops and commodities made from water. The WaterFootprint tool can help not just growers, but world water managers as well, the authors say.

A new University of Florida web-based tool worked well during its trial run to measure water consumption at farms in four Southern states, according to a study published this month.

Related Articles


The system measures the so-called "water footprint" of a farm. In the broader sense, water footprints account for the amount of water used to grow or create almost everything we eat, drink, wear or otherwise use.

Researchers at UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences introduced their WaterFootprint tool in the March issue of the journal Agricultural Systems, after using it to calculate water consumption at farms in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. The WaterFootprint is part of the AgroClimate system, developed by Clyde Fraisse, a UF associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering. AgroClimate is a web resource, aimed primarily at agricultural producers, that includes interactive tools and data for reducing agricultural risks.

WaterFootprint, developed primarily by Daniel Dourte, a research associate in agricultural and biological engineering, estimates water use in crop production across the U.S. WaterFootprint looks at a farm in a specific year or growing season and gives you its water footprint, Dourte said. With UF's WaterFootprint system, users provide their location by ZIP code, the crop, planting and harvesting dates, yield, soil type, tillage and water management.

The tool also retrieves historical weather data and uses it to estimate the blue and green water footprints of crop production, Dourte said. Water footprints separate water use into green, which is rainfall; blue, from a freshwater resource; and gray, an accounting of water quality, after it's been polluted.

Water footprints can be viewed at the farm level or globally. For instance, if irrigation water is used to grow crops, it is essentially exported, Dourte said.

Once products are shipped overseas, the water used to grow the commodity goes with it, and it may not return for a long time -- if ever, Dourte said. That's a problem if the crop is grown in a region where water is scarce, he said.

But there's often a tradeoff, he said. Global food trade saves billions of gallons of water each year, as food is exported from humid, temperate places to drier locales that would have used much more water to grow crops, Dourte said.

"The U.S. is a big agricultural producer. Products are exported and along with them, water goes to other countries," he said.

For example, if you're growing soybeans, you're indirectly sending the water that was used to grow the crop. That amounts to about 270 gallons per pound of soybeans, Dourte said. In addition to soybeans, coffee beans and shirts, if made from cotton, consume lots of water from the growing process to processing to shipping -- with most of that water consumption resulting from evaporation and transpiration during crop growth, he said. But understanding the type of water resource being consumed, whether it's from rainfall or irrigation, makes all the difference in assessing water resource sustainability. Dourte co-authored the study with Fraisse and Oxana Uryasev, a UF research associate in agricultural and biological engineering.

The WaterFootprint tool can help not just growers, but world water managers as well, he said.

"We think this farm-specific, time-specific water footprinting tool is a unique resource that could be used by resource managers and educators to consider water resource sustainability in the context of agricultural production," Dourte said. "We usually think of water management locally and regionally. But when you're accounting for the water footprint of agricultural products, it allows you to see the global nature of that water." UF's WaterFootprint calculator can be found at http://agroclimate.org/tools/Water-Footprint/.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel R. Dourte, Clyde W. Fraisse, Oxana Uryasev. WaterFootprint on AgroClimate: A dynamic, web-based tool for comparing agricultural systems. Agricultural Systems, 2014; 125: 33 DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2013.11.006

Cite This Page:

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Web tool successfully measures farms’ water footprint." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320100516.htm>.
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (2014, March 20). Web tool successfully measures farms’ water footprint. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320100516.htm
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Web tool successfully measures farms’ water footprint." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320100516.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins