Waste Not. Want Not. How Farmers are Preserving and Recycling Water

Jul 7, 2023 | Announcements

As the world’s population continues to grow, the demand for food is increasing at an unprecedented rate. This demand puts immense pressure on farmers to produce more crops, which in turn puts a strain on the local water supply. To address this issue, farmers are turning to water recycling and conservation practices to ensure that local waterways remain clean and sustainable. 

Water recycling is the practice of collecting and treating wastewater for reuse. One way farmers recycle water on their farms is through a process known as irrigation. Irrigation is the process of applying water to crops to help them grow. Farmers can use recycled water to irrigate, recycling a valuable resource. 

The first step in the water recycling process is to collect wastewater from the farm. This wastewater can come from various sources, including animal waste, cleaning equipment, and processing plants, like washing potatoes. Once the wastewater is collected, it is treated to remove contaminants and bacteria. The treated water is then stored in a pond or tank for later use. 

When it comes time to irrigate crops, the recycled water is pumped from the storage tank to the irrigation system. The irrigation system delivers water directly to the crops, allowing them to absorb the nutrients they need to grow. Once the water has been used, it is collected again and treated for reuse. 

In addition to water recycling, farmers also take steps to ensure that local waterways remain clean. These steps include using sustainable farming practices, such as conservation tillage, strip row cropping, and cover crops, to reduce soil erosion and prevent nutrient runoff. Nutrient runoff is a major problem for waterways and farmers. If an abundant amount of nutrients from the soil travels into the waterways, they can cause harmful algae blooms to grow, depleting the oxygen in the water and harming aquatic life. Farmers focus on keeping nutrients right where they need them – in the soil to grow high quantities of healthy crops.  

Another way farmers protect local waterways is by using integrated pest management (IPM) techniques. IPM is a system of pest management that focuses on preventing pest damage rather than relying solely on pesticides. By using IPM techniques, farmers can reduce the amount of pesticides applied to their crops, which in turn reduces the risk of pesticide runoff into local waterways. 

Finally, farmers can also work with their local government to implement conservation programs. These programs can provide funding and resources to help farmers implement water conservation and recycling practices. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to help farmers implement conservation practices on their farms. 

Water recycling and conservation practices are critical for ensuring that local waterways remain clean and sustainable. Farmers play a vital role in this effort by implementing water conservation and recycling practices, using sustainable farming practices, and working with their local government to implement conservation programs. By taking these steps, farmers can help ensure that future generations have access to clean and sustainable water sources.