The chart below shows the water withdrawal ratios by continent, where the agricultural part varies from more than 80 percent in Africa and Asia to just over 20 percent in Europe. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), water used for irrigation accounts for nearly 65 percent of the world’s freshwater withdrawals excluding thermoelectric power (1). Livestock in a Changing Landscape. Most of the total volume of water (98%) refers to the water footprint of the feed for the animals. And by calculating a water footprint, it is possible to estimate the amount of water used to do anything – whether it’s running a business or producing a burger. In the case of aquaculture, “water dependency” has been considered an “impact” in LCA studies. V. Almost half of the total area being irrigated worldwide is located in Pakistan, China and India, and covers 80%, 35% and 34% of the cultivated area respectively. Climate change, water and food security. In agriculture, water must be of (2010) noted that water flows did not substantially change in Australia from native pastoral systems to the current improved systems, so livestock farming did not influence water scarcity in this case. On average just about 40% of water withdrawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers for agriculture effectively contribute to crop production (the rest is lost through evaporation and deep infiltration). In the US, it remains the main source of pollution of drinking water reservoirs [4].In a 2013 study, three dozen environmental scientists undertook an ambitious task of identifying the harmful effects of agricultural runoff across the U.S. in order to understand and help manage it better [4].. No evidence exists that the presence of livestock is related to the risk of water scarcity; for example, in France there is little overlap between regions with high livestock density and those with water-availability problems in summer, some of the latter being areas with irrigated crops (Figure 2). Animal agriculture puts a heavy strain on many of the Earth’s finite land, water and energy resources. I. J. M. G. M. In this article, we have focused on negative impacts of livestock on water reserves; however, livestock can also have neutral or positive influences on water resources. , Chapagain A. K., Aldaya M. M., Mekonnen M. M. Mekonnen Large differences are observed for beef blue water use: 1,471 L/kg for industrial systems in India and 0 for grazing in India and China. water withdrawal) by industry to water use by other sectors, namely agriculture and domestic use, it is clear that globally, industry uses only a fraction of the amount of water used by agriculture. facts. These differences are mainly due to characteristics of the production systems (i.e., an organic system without irrigation vs. a more intensive system with irrigation), and significant between-year differences were observed. P. The charts show the global average water footprint/requirement for the production of one tonne of product (in cubic metres); per kilocalorie (per litre); and per gram of … 1: Drivers, Consequences, and Responses. Agriculture looks set to remain the biggest user of water into the middle of this century. Blue, Green, or Gray Water: Which One Is Critical to Calculate Water Use? Overview and forecasts on trending topics, Key figures and rankings about brands and companies, Consumer insights and preferences in various industries, Detailed information about political and social topics, All key figures about regions and countries, Everything you need to know about Consumer Goods, Identify market potentials of the digital future, Technology Market Outlook Areas suffering from water scarcity may change from year to year. L. According to a 2012 study, “A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products,” by Mesfin M. Mekonnen and Arjen Y. Hoekstra of the University of Twente in the Netherlands, “The total water footprint of animal production constitutes 29% of the water footprint of total agricultural production,” with one-third of that water being used to raise beef cattle. Globally, it is estimated that 60-75% of water humans used goes towards agriculture. In addition, it is necessary to remember that freshwater availability is only one of the major environmental issues for the planet. Pimentel et al. liability for the information given being complete or correct. Which Method(s) Should Be Used to Assess Water Use by Livestock? This New York Times article on agricultural water use in California suggests that we’re shipping 100 billion gallons of water a year to China in the form of alfalfa. Similarly, Ridoutt et al. 28 The Water Wheel July/August 2018 Irrigation water use other types of vegetation vary across the country at different scales. Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 70% of all water consumption. Vol. Purple dots indicate departments with more than 100,000 cattle in January 2009, whereas yellow dots represent departments subject to water restrictions in summer 2008 [source: data from the French BDNI (National Databank for Cattle Identification; http://www.inst-elevage.asso.fr/) and Ministry of Ecology (http://www.eaufrance.fr/)]. Some blue water returns to the location where it was consumed; for example, a part of the water consumed by livestock (including water contained in feeds) returns to the farm in feces and urine; however, a minor part returns to groundwater by infiltration (Table 1). Impacts of drought are evident in agricultural activity estimates for the 2018-19 reference year across a number of the ABS' agricultural collections, including Water Use on Australian Farms. With growing demand from human activities on the one hand and climate change on the other, many regions especially in the south struggle to find enough freshwater to meet their needs. No. M. M. Another possibility is to replace corn with other cereals, although their nutritional characteristics (e.g., amino acid composition) may differ. Canada is known for its water. Research to develop indicators that inherently represent environmental impacts of water use has flourished in the past few years, specifically in the framework of life cycle assessment (LCA). M. All LCA approaches include water used for crop (i.e., feed and forage) production, with some minor differences in which upstream processes are included (some excluding water used in infrastructure or transportation). Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. B. G. The absence of blue water is due to the estimation method, which does not account for uses besides direct use by animals and the feeds they consumed. International Business Times. Australia is just one example of a country with a water withdrawal share that mirrors this % share almost exactly. A few approaches use water-engineering models to provide farm-level estimates of water use. Increasing agricultural water use efficiency to meet future food production. Globally, 70 percent of water withdrawals are used for agriculture. The water footprint takes into account different types of water, including virtual water, but is limited to on-farm flows, whereas LCA is limited mainly to blue water but includes off-farm uses (e.g., “from cradle to farm gate”). It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide, This PDF is available to Subscribers Only. , Wiedemann S. G., Rowley H. V., Tucker R. W. Pimentel , Hoekstra A. Y. de Boer However, the present trend in food consumption is a rapid increase in animal products at the expense of crops in emerging and developing countries (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2009). For example, the use of green water does not have the same impact on competitive blue water resources in a river system as the direct consumption of blue water has. Both methods sum blue, green, and gray water use into a single indicator. There are several means to decrease water intake. and over 1 Mio. Furthermore, a third of worldwide grain production is used to feed livestock. Alternately, farmers could purchase corn from regions where it requires no irrigation, but other environmental impacts may increase because of changes in land use and, to a lesser extent, increased transportation distances. For example, corn, which is widely used for livestock feeding, is highly sensitive to water scarcity, requiring irrigation for maximum biomass production when rainfall is insufficient. In this guide we look at how much water the different sectors and industries use worldwide, and also in specific countries. The importance of agricultural water withdrawal is highly dependent on both climate and the place of agriculture in the economy. Ultimately, water scarcity depends on blue water use. Livestock farming also has positive impacts on the environment related to water use. In contrast, because beef meat is the only product of a beef herd, the calculation of total water use of 1 kg of beef includes the water use by both bulls and steers, but also that of nursing cows. One main difference among all methods for assessing water use is whether and how they include green and gray water. The green, blue and grey water footprint of farm animals and animal products. Impacts et services environnementaux de l'élevage en régions chaudes. The variation probably arises from differences in local evapotranspiration, production systems, and animal productivity. Water cycle and people: Water for feeding humanity, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Does Livestock Production Contribute to Water Scarcity? , Williams S. R. O., Baud S., Fraval S., Marks N. Rosegrant For example, Peters et al. 1: Main Report. Water and agriculture involve two key interrelated issues: Water quality is a measure of the suitability of water for a particular use based on selected physical, chemical, or biological characteristics. Soil erosion by water, wind and tillage affects both agriculture and the natural environment. Corn can be replaced by sorghum, which grows in the same area and produces more biomass in the absence of irrigation; consequently, sorghum has a greater green water footprint than corn (Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2007). If this value is considered, the total water used to produce the 60 million tons of beef every year is greater than the total freshwater reserves of the planet. Outside of meat production, it’s being pointed out that raising crops in California, with its abundant sunshine and lack of water, may not be as good a business model as it was in year’s past. , Sanguansri P., Freer M., Harper G. Ridoutt Geographic distribution of cattle and summer water restrictions in France. On a global scale, agriculture represents 70% of blue water use. In order to accommodate the 70 billion animals raised annually for human consumption, a third of the planet’s ice-free land surface , as well as nearly sixteen percent of global freshwater , is devoted to growing livestock. In the same location, crops and pastures have similar evapotranspiration rates, related to net primary production, which is less than that for forest. Vision for Food, Agriculture and the Environment Initiative, International Food Policy Research Institute, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). A clean and plentiful water supply is essential for productive agriculture to supply the public with adequate food and fiber. A third is whether water that returns to the same location (e.g., in urine) is considered to have been consumed. Irrigation increases human food security in many countries, but may deplete groundwater and, in extreme cases, lower water levels of inland seas and increase their salinity. Find out how we use water exactly and why conserving it is key. All LCA approaches include blue water (e.g., irrigation), and the most recent (e.g., Ridoutt et al., 2011) focus on consumption of blue water leading to freshwater depletion, meaning that water ingested by livestock but returned to the same location (e.g., as urine) is excluded from the total water use. Here we describe 3 methods of classification for water use: 1) “virtual water and water footprints (which include blue, green, and gray water use),” 2) assessments of blue water use only, and 3) assessments of stress-weighted water use. Knowing how much water livestock species consume directly in food and drinking water is one indicator of their water use, but a more comprehensive indicator comes from estimating how much water was used on or before livestock farms to grow and process their feed or forage and after farms to transform them or their output (e.g., milk, eggs, fleece) into marketable products. Such weighted values in blue water use for livestock products, although sometimes much less than the amount of water they drink during their lifetimes, have been designed to reflect the impact of livestock on water scarcity. Water intake can be 50% greater in tropical countries than in temperate countries, especially for chickens. At the global scale, when total water use is expressed per kilograms of product, crop products almost always have less use than animal products (Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2007). With beef requiring some 400 million gallons of water per ton of meat produced are we now required to come up with ways to raise beef without such a heavy dependence on water? International Organization for Standardization (ISO). However, we recommend a holistic approach, in which the role of livestock in human societies is evaluated as a whole instead of considering the effect on water alone. Food and agriculture are the largest consumers of water, requiring one hundred times more than we use for personal needs. B. G. We are happy to help. , Chenoweth J., Chapagain A., Orr S., Antón A., Clift R. Morand-Fehr Vegan households use less than a third of the water of the average Australian household. Worldwide, agriculture represents 70% of total blue water use and 86% of blue + green water use (World Water Assessment Programme, 2009), whereas livestock farming uses 15% of the evapotranspiration of irrigated crops, 33% of that of rain-grown crops, and 68% of that of permanent pastures and rangelands . A second difference is whether water use is reported as a volume of water or as an index of water-use impact (e.g., H2O equivalents). Some convergence in methodology has already occurred among LCA approaches, but certain differences remain. It has been estimated that 64% of the world population will live in water-deprived zones in 2025 (Rosegrant et al., 2002). Summary (Indianapolis, Indiana) 2020. The common pool nature of groundwater and the difficulty of observing it directly make this resource difficult to monitor and regulate, especially in developing countries. But how much water is needed to produce it? Washington (DC): World Bank. Find Out Find your information in our database containing over 20,000 reports, Tools and Tutorials explained in our Media Centre, global population connected to wastewater collection systems, global water and sewerage infrastructure satisfaction. When less extreme cases are considered, between-country differences exist, for example, ranging from 11,000 L/kg of beef in Japan to 37,800 L/kg of beef in Mexico. Life cycle assessment approaches tend either to exclude green water (considering that the evapotranspiration of soil water by crops has no more impact than that by the vegetation they replaced) or to include only the variation in green water attributable to changes in land use (e.g., from pasture to cropland; e.g., de Boer et al., 2011). The same pattern holds for total use of other resources, such as fossil energy, phosphorus, or land. Réduire la vulnérabilité de l'agriculture à un risque accru de manque d'eau, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Life cycle assessment is an internationally standardized approach for estimating the environmental impacts (in multiple impact categories) of goods and services throughout their life cycle, from extraction of raw materials and production to (in the most complete studies) their use and disposal (International Organization for Standardization, 2006). Under Dutch conditions, de Boer et al. However, water requirements vary significantly depending on food type. Additionally, water use may be more detrimental in one region compared with another, depending on the level of water stress in each region (Figure 3). Agriculture is the number-one user of water, accounting for 65% of total water consumed in Australia and 70% worldwide. Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis. As much as 50% of all food produced in the world ends up as waste every year according to figures from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. With sustainability becoming or already representing a keystone of resource management and policy in many regions, it is necessary to consider how water use for livestock production influences water scarcity. Due to varying update cycles, statistics can display more up-to-date Because this article is devoted to the risks of water shortage, we thus examine only the effects of livestock on blue and green water. However, in our cities, domestic water use is a much higher percentage. Even if water demand does not lead to water scarcity (e.g., in wet regions), it can increase groundwater depth, potentially decreasing water flow to rivers and causing ecosystem changes. Statista assumes no Because freshwater availability depends greatly on geographic location (Figure 4), water use should be calculated for a specific area, either per hectare or per kilogram of product within that area. Industrial or intensive agriculture is distinguished from traditional agriculture by a high ratio of inputs to land area, and is also characterized by a reduction in fallow periods, in order to maximize crop yields. In arid areas, water may be sprayed on animals to improve animal performance, but this is a marginal practice. Coping with Water Scarcity: Challenge of the 21st Century. "Cow Farts Have 'Larger Greenhouse Gas Impact' Than Previously Thought; Methane Pushes Climate Change". Indeed, evapotranspiration, the main water outflow, is positively correlated with rainfall, and areas with high rainfall usually do not suffer from water scarcity problems. Global meat production doubled between 1980 and 2004 and it continues to mushroom as emerging economies develop a middle class that is hungry for beef. This may happen even in regions with high rainfall, where population density and economic activity are high. A more efficient use of water in agriculture would certainly help. The total water used to produce human foods is generally calculated per unit of product, the most common of which are kilograms, kilocalories, or a monetary unit. For example, when early-stage fresh grass is fed, animals do not require drinking water. (2010) calculated a modified water footprint by excluding green water from pastures (but not for harvested forages) with grazing-based systems, in particular because grazing systems provide ecosystem services (e.g., grassland biodiversity support) and because there is often no alternative use for grazed grasslands. Agriculture cannot be ignored in the water equation, said Gerald Galloway, a civil engineer and visiting scholar with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Water-mediated ecological consequences of intensification and expansion of livestock production. More than three-quarters of this is used for livestock production, despite meat and dairy making up a much smaller share of the world’s protein and calorie supply. There are 330 million acres of land used for agricultural purposes in the United States that produce an abundance of food and other products (2). For pork, the system that requires the most blue water in Brazil and Australia is grazing, whereas in India, it is industrial production. The major uncertainties – and explanation for discrepancies – in these assessments is the allocation of ‘rangelands’: in some regions it can be difficult to accurately quantify how much of rangelands are used for grazing, and how much is free from human pressure. Recent studies have highlighted the large amounts of water used for agriculture, especially for livestock production [e.g., Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2006]. Now, Kerlink, a specialist in solutions dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT), and Sensoterra, a specialist in wireless soil-moisture-sensor solutions, have announced a partnership to take care of water waste. The effect of on-farm water management is sometimes calculated by comparing it with the effect of natural vegetation, for which evapotranspiration is estimated as a simple function of rainfall (Ridoutt et al., 2011). The amount of water wasted globally … Water withdrawal and consumption are not the same metric and a much greater percentage of the water withdrawn for agriculture is actually consumed as irrigation water while a much smaller percentage of water withdrawn to support industrial and municipal supply is actually consumed and rendered unavailable for other uses. Decreasing evapotranspiration (i.e., green water loss) is related to a decrease in photosynthesis and thus in biomass production because transpiration is related to carbon dioxide uptake, with both exchanges occurring through plant stomata. Zebus drinking at a reservoir in the Garissa region (northern Kenya). For ruminants, total water intake is generally between 3.5 and 5.5 L/kg of dry matter intake in temperate countries; it is greater for dairy cows than for growing animals or animals at maintenance. The use of agricultural water makes it possible to grow fruits and vegetables and raise livestock, which is a main part of our diet. October 7, 2015 Economic Development Over one billion people worldwide work in agriculture generating $2.4 trillion for the global economy. One third of this volume is for the beef cattle sector; another 19% for the dairy cattle sector. For example, extensive beef-cattle systems generate animal products by using rainfall on land that is suitable for few other agricultural purposes (except for forests in mountain regions). As with most agricultural LCA, most existing studies stop at the farm gate, some continue to the slaughterhouse or food-processing factory, and at least one continues to the end consumer. . Res. If we compare water use (i.e. Thus, a definition of water scarcity that emphasizes the important role of water demand is, “the point at which the aggregate impact of all users impinges on the supply or quality of water... to the extent that the demand by all sectors, including the environment, cannot be satisfied fully” (UN-Water/FAO, 2007). Approximately 3.8tn cubic metres of water is used by humans annually with 70% being consumed by the global agriculture sector. M. W. While the shift to biofuels is generally welcomed, their production could demand as much water as fossil fuels. By one definition, human populations face water scarcity when annual renewable water supplies in a region fall below 1,000 m3/person, which currently occurs throughout most countries in Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (United Nations Environment Programme, 2008). In many drier countries, agricultural water use accounts for more than 90 Rough average of 150 billion gallons CH4globally per d… Nature of blue water used for livestock farming. It accounts for an estimated 70 per cent of total freshwater withdrawals. Update, Insights into the world's most important technology markets, Advertising & Media Outlook Direct water consumption by human activities depletes blue water (i.e., makes it less available). 4 Agriculture is also a major source of water pollution from nutrients, pesticides and other As for impact indicators, all LCA approaches define midpoint indicators of water-use impact. But agriculture, like other land uses, can sometimes negatively affect water quality. An assessment of the status of water resources, A revised approach to water footprinting to make transparent the impacts of consumption and production on freshwater scarcity, Water footprint of livestock: Comparison of six geographically defined beef production systems, Meat consumption and water scarcity: Beware of generalizations, doi:http://dx.doi. In arid zones, the use of draft animals for drilling, hydraulic works, water extraction, and transport supports human settlements (Blanfort et al., 2011). In the Wellington region, Do New That matters because the water doesn’t just appear – it has to be pumped in and out of the slaughterhouse. Sécheresse et agriculture. , Hoekstra A. Y. Milà I Canals Plant science innovations are vital to keep crops healthy and maintain this thriving economy. India does not spend any money in conserving water consumed in Deutsch et al. This water is often not used sustainably. Paris, France, and Earthscan, London, UK. This text provides general information. , Herrero M., van de Steeg J., Peden D. Wiedemann Global animal production requires about 2422 Gm 3 of water per year (87.2% green, 6.2% blue, 6.6% grey water). Consumptive use is estimated at 56% for irrigation and 67% for livestock uses. today. Water scarcity is related to water depletion, not to total water outflow from agricultural systems. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. (2012) for 6 Australian beef systems, which correspond to blue water use, weighted by water-stress indices, ranging from 3 to 221 L/kg of body weight of beef. Considerations in choosing category indicators, Accounting for water use in Australian red meat production, Water resources: Agriculture, the environment, and society. Animal agriculture puts a heavy strain on many of the Earth’s finite land, water and energy resources. Blue and green water are thus closely interwoven. Water is a precious resource that must be conserved globally by all sectors of the economy, including agriculture and thus livestock farming. The water footprint of a nation is the amount of water used to produce the goods and services consumed by the inhabitants of that nation. Decreasing the contribution of livestock to water scarcity can be achieved by decreasing feed irrigation. Increasing the proportion of fresh grass or silage in the diet thus decreases drinking water intake. Unlike camels, which can drink once a week, cattle must drink at least every other day (source: Bernard Faye; used with permission). Agriculture: A $2.4 Trillion Industry Worth Protecting. Irrigation water and rainfall are taken up by plants and then transpired, moving to another location via the atmosphere. Direct use of water for agriculture in Germany is almost negligible (just 0.3 km³ per year nationwide). The “water footprint” approach includes green water, whereas life cycle assessment approaches tend to exclude green water or to include only the variation in green water resulting from changes in land use. In order to accommodate the 70 billion animals raised annually for human consumption, a third of the planet’s ice-free land surface, as well as nearly sixteen percent of global freshwater, is devoted to growing livestock. Similar ranges (25 to 234 L/kg of body weight of beef) were observed by Ridoutt et al. Global water treatment and supply companies based on revenue 2018, Market value of leading water utilities companies worldwide 2020, Leading water utilities companies worldwide based on market cap 2020, Annual water withdrawals worldwide by region 2010, Global water withdrawal per capita by select country 2018, Global share of population with wastewater collection systems by region 2018, Water infrastructure repair market size worldwide 2020-2026, Global hydropower installed capacity 2014-2019, Global water withdrawal and consumption 2014-2040, Global water consumption by sector 2014-2040, Facebook: number of monthly active users worldwide 2008-2020, Smartphone market share worldwide by vendor 2009-2020, Number of apps available in leading app stores 2020, Country with the largest renewable water resources, Wastewater treatment's share of the global water industry market, Share of the global population with access to safely managed water, Global market share of water subsectors 2019, Global per capita renewable water resources by select country 2017, Global population with access to improved drinking water sources by region 2017, Share of global freshwater withdrawals by major water use sector 2010, Global key figures on wastewater generation 2020, Global wastewater treatment companies based on revenue 2018, Global water withdrawals by select country 2017, Global satisfaction with water and sewerage infrastructure by country 2019, Global per capita spending on water, sanitation, and hygiene by country 2019, Global operational desalination plants by sector use 2018, Worldwide added new hydropower capacity by region 2019, Largest hydropower producing countries 2019, Global energy consumption share in the water sector by use 2016, Global industrial wastewater treatment market value by region 2019-2024, Global industrial water demand by region 2010 & 2050. 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