Water impacts our lives and the natural world, often to a greater extent than first meets the eye. It’s required for survival by nearly every living thing and has a fundamental role in our lives. Not only are our bodies largely comprised of this essential resource, but water is also necessary in our daily routines, for the manufacturing of our favorite products, and of course, agricultural production.
Agriculture provides us with the food we eat, clothes we wear and products we use each day. However, as the population grows, natural resources, like water, are becoming increasingly scarce. This poses many challenges to the viability of the agriculture long-term.
Because the agriculture industry is the largest user of water, it bears the greatest responsibility for conserving water and using it efficiently, and farmers are doing just that.
“Through the Water Grows Initiative, we’re sharing how Texas farmers are working to conserve our natural resources, while growing our economy, our food and opportunities for future generations,” Texas Corn Producers Board Chairman and farmer near Dalhart Robert Gordon says.
Water Grows is an initiative sponsored by the Texas Corn Producers and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas. No one cares more about conserving water and protecting the land than those whose livelihoods depend on it. That’s why Water Grows has been sharing the story behind the conservation efforts of farmers since 2009 with one message focused on three key segments – water grows our food, economy and future.
In composition and production, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy all have one integral component in common – water! Farmers and ranchers rely on rainwater to ensure a bountiful harvest and for healthy rangeland, however, supplemental irrigation is often necessary to support crops through important stages of growth.
While irrigated agriculture accounts for a significant portion of groundwater use in Texas, farmers are growing increasingly more with less resources. With the help of NRCS, farmers are implementing a variety of conservation practices on their farms for soil health, erosion control and increased water efficiencies. These practices help farmers in their efforts of growing drought tolerant seed varieties and implementing advanced technologies.
Their efforts are making a big difference. In fact, today, one bushel of corn is grown using 53 percent less irrigated water with 67 percent less soil erosion and 36 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 30 years ago. These efforts also result in 44 percent less energy consumption.
The water used to grow crops also helps support a thriving economy, both locally and nationally. Not only does agriculture generate billions of dollars in economic activity each year, it also employs nearly 22 million people across the U.S. in a variety of agricultural-related jobs.
Farmers know conservation matters because water grows our future. Conservation decisions made today will help ensure adequate water supplies are available for future generations.
“A public understanding of local water use and conservation, and its impact on the area’s communities is essential for the future of our state and its resources,” Gordon says.
These messages matter. The stories behind these conservation efforts matter – because the conservation efforts of Texas farmers benefit everyone.
Whether you live in a city high rise, a suburban neighborhood or a ranch house in the country, we’re all impacted by agriculture, and ultimately the water that makes it all possible. That’s why we all have a role in conserving this precious resource.
Water grows – let’s make it last!