Web tool successfully measures farms’ water footprint
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/.
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