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Preface: SAFIR - Safe and high quality food production using low quality waters and improved irrigation systems and management

Ragab, Ragab. 2010 Preface: SAFIR - Safe and high quality food production using low quality waters and improved irrigation systems and management. Agricultural Water Management, 98 (3). iv. 10.1016/j.agwat.2010.11.001

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Abstract/Summary

Food security at present is a hot topic and is increasingly receiv¬ing more attention. This is partly due to the fast growing population and partly to the more frequent extreme events that are affect¬ing food production. Drought is becoming more frequent and in many parts of the world resulting in significant negative impacts on food production. Increasing food production to meet the need of the growing population and to mitigate the impact of the drought events requires increasing cultivable lands, irrigation water sup¬plies, and the food produced per drop of applied water. The natural resources for food production are limited and in most cases, water is a limiting factor for food production. Field and laboratory research has shown that Improvements in agriculture water management can result in producing more food with the existing water supply. Non-conventional water resources could be used for irrigation provided proper manage¬ment is in place to safeguard the environment. Waste water is the most guaranteed water resource on the planet as it will always be available as long as human beings are still living on the face of the earth. The EU supported a worldwide project, SAFIR, to investigate the possible water saving techniques and the quality and safety of food produced when using treated waste water. The project involved 17 research and business part¬ners and 14 sites. Two main crops widely used in the world, namely potato and tomato, were selected. The project involved microbiologists and hygiene specialists, agronomists, wastewater treatment specialists, modellers, irrigation scientists, crop sci¬entists, agro-industrial companies, chemists, soil scientists and socio-economists. The two main objectives were how to save water without reduc¬ing the crop yield, and how to use treated waste water for irrigation, while investigating the impact on food quality and the safety of the food for human consumption. To meet the first objective, deficit irrigation which uses less water than full irrigation, where the full crop requirement is met, was considered. This included the use of the partial root drying method, PRD, where half of the vertical root zone is irrigated at any one time and alternated in the subsequent times. Deficit irrigation was also considered with the classical drip, furrow and sprinkler irrigation systems by simply applying reduced ratios of the full crop water requirement. Water saving also included application of water below the surface in case of the subsurface drip irrigation to minimize the losses by evaporation. Small water treatment stations were installed at the top of the fields for waste water treatment were developed by the industrial partners and the water was checked for quality to ensure health standards were met before irrigation. This was followed by inves¬tigation of the microbial and chemical status of the soil, and of the tomato and potato crop in terms of quality and safety for human consumption. The following papers will discuss the results obtained under the project and will highlight the issues and bottlenecks. The papers will show that there is a possibility to save water through the use of deficit irrigation, especially drip-PRD, if it is properly managed fol¬lowing root establishment. The socio-economic analysis papers will illustrate the financial gains when using such water saving tech¬niques and the role of institutions in adopting those techniques and encouraging the use of treated waste water under controlled man¬agement. The papers will also show the treated waste water could be safely used, for at least 3 years, with no harmful impact on the human health and without negative effect on either fruit quality, soil microorganisms or soil properties, especially the heavy metals content.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.agwat.2010.11.001
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 onwards > Water > WA Topic 3 - Science for Water Management > WA - 3.2 - Assessment of available water resources in a changing world ...
CEH Sections: Acreman
ISSN: 0378-3774
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Preface for a special issue with Ragab Ragab as a guest Editor.
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Ecology and Environment
Hydrology
Health
Related URLs:
Date made live: 27 Jan 2011 11:44
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/13222

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