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Fluid Journal : Summer 2014
3 The Fluid Journal Summer 2014 Summer 2014 • Vol. 22, No. 3, Issue #85 The challenge of water scarcity ahead In our 2013 Winter issue of the Fluid Journal, Dr. Bill Easterwood warned about possible water scarcity ahead if innovative efforts are not taken to conserve water and nutrients to preserve adequate food production for a growing world population. He made a rather unsettling statement that 70 percent of our planet is covered with water but only 3 percent is fresh water. Our Editorial Committee decided it was time we address this issue more fully. You will read the opinions of four prominent agriculturists with expertise in this area. Carl Bruce, a national nutrition technical manager, centers his discussion on shortages of water supply in California. He contends the challenge to meet the competing needs of cities, the environment, and agriculture could be far-reaching. An estimated half million plus acres of irrigated farmland is looking for alternative water sources. In addition, much of the water in the Central Valley contains very high levels of dissolved salts, which risks crop injury and economic loss for the grower. He offers leaching as the only remedy for continued use of saline water when irrigating. Dr. Raun Lohry and Dennis Zabel, his senior agronomist, offer a glimpse into water and irrigation issues in the Great Plains. They note that complex problems cannot be solved simplistically. The complexities of increased irrigation are well described in multi-state agreements. One between Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas, for example, eventually resulted in interstate lawsuits for alleged violations. Analysis is also made of the positives and negatives of different forms of irrigations systems, relative to water-use efficiency. Solutions will be regionally based. Dr. Krieg, a professor of crop physiology, discusses how much of a challenge it is to be profitable in cotton in Texas under water–limiting conditions. He points out how water stress during developmental states can result in a severe reduction in potential boll number and thus yield. He also notes that the first five days following pollination of an individual fruit are also very sensitive to both water and nutritional stress, which can result in a reduction in seed number per fruit. David Lankford, an agricultural consultant, and Dr. Lichtner, a product development consultant, put stress on data collection and sound analysis as being critical to managing water and nutrient efficiencies. Times have changed they say. Forebears were mostly self-taught via trial and error. Today we learn from deployment of electronics and analysis of data since the entry of the electronic age following World War II, which, among other things, brought us the capacitance probes to measure soil water content. The authors predict the new era in water and nutrient efficiencies will be pushed to levels once thought impossible.