Food Production as an Efficient Movement of Water
It’s no secret that water is a finite resource, and agriculture is a significant user of water to grow our food and fiber. In fact, one way to look at the food system is a way to put on an economic price on water use, says David Doll, a farmer and former farm advisor.
Doll… “You know, we've been trading water in agriculture for hundreds of years. We just do it in the grain or the apples or the tomatoes or the almonds. That's how we're trading water. We're taking that resource from where we have it and where it may be plentiful at a given time, producing something with it, and then moving that to an area that: one can't produce that crop, or doesn't have the resources to produce that crop.”
So in some ways, farmers are harvesting water from one area, and efficiently moving it to a new area in the form of food.
Doll… “And if that water is coming from a renewable resource, that's different than if it's coming from an aquifer that never can be recharged.”
Doll says improving ways to bring renewable water resources to arid regions is a vital part of the future of farming, since it’s an ideal environment for many crops.
Doll… “But it doesn't mean we don't figure out how to make farming in those drier areas - improve the water resources - because those dry areas provide conditions that are conducive for high agricultural productivity. Much higher than people actually think that's going on - and higher valued crops.”