Maintaining Food Production With Scarce Water

UC Riverside marks World Water Day on April 12 with public talks and film

Ariel Dinar

Ariel Dinar is the director of UC Riverside’s Water Science and Policy Center. Photo credit: L. Duka.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Each of us needs to drink two to four liters of water each day.  To produce one kilogram of wheat, about 1500 liters of water are needed.  But ten times this amount of water are required to produce just one kilogram of beef.

Water, therefore, is a precious commodity, steadily increasing in value with population increase and economic growth.

The University of California, Riverside will mark World Water Day on Thursday, April 12, with a series of short talks and the screening of a film.  The free public event will focus on water and food security, and take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 240 in the Orbach Science Library.  Pay-by-space parking at the rate of $2 per hour is available in Parking Lot 10.

“Water demands for cities and industries are growing fast — faster than the water demands for agriculture,” said Ariel Dinar, the director of UC Riverside’s Water Science and Policy Center and the coeditor of a recently published handbook on the impact of climate change on agriculture. “To ensure food production in the future, we need to increase our efforts at better using water in agricultural fields.  Further, we need to adapt water management policies and practices to accommodate the effects of climate change on food production.”

A 30-minute talk on maintaining food production despite increasing salinity in water and soil will kick off the event.

“Irrigated lands and water are increasingly being salinized,” said Donald L. Suarez, the director of the USDA Agricultural Research Service Salinity Laboratory, who will give the talk. “Maintaining production in irrigated regions is possible, but will require utilization of lower quality waters.”

Julia Bailey-Serres, a professor of genetics at UCR, will follow next with a 30-minute talk on weather-proofing crops in which she will explore solutions for the timely development of crops that survive droughts and floods.  She will discuss “scuba” rice that now provides “flooding insurance” for Asian farmers.

“There must be a doubling of today’s cereal grain production to meet the anticipated food needs of 2030,” she said. “One way to accomplish this is to develop crops that are more resilient to droughts and floods.”

The final talk for the afternoon will be given by Andrew C. Chang, a professor emeritus of environmental sciences at UCR.  His 30-minute talk will focus on reclaimed wastewater for crop irrigation.

“Crop irrigation is the most common means of water reuse,” he said. “Issues with reusing reclaimed wastewater have evolved over time, and the goals of water reuses also shift as water resources become increasingly stressed.  The maintenance of public health, economic viability, environmental sustainability, and social acceptance, however, has been, and will always be, the primary concern in reusing reclaimed water.”

A 30-minute film, titled “Agriculture: San Diego’s Working Water” will conclude the event.

The Water Science and Policy Center, the UCR Libraries, the UCR Office of Sustainability and the Water Resources Collections and Archives are co-hosting the event.

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of its resources.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

Carol O'Brien, Water Science and Policy Center
Tel: (951) 827-9772

Archived under: Science/Technology, , , , , , , ,

Top of Page