Greater efficiency in the use of water for agriculture is the way to achieve significant gains in water saving in China, a foreign expert has reported after a detailed study of the country's agricultural sector.
Dr Osman Aidi, chairman and managing director of Irrifrance, was asked to examine the promotion and application of modern water saving techniques and irrigation technology in company with Chinese experts in agriculture, water conservancy and environmental protection.
Dr Aidi, who brought with him electronic intelligent agricultural water resource irrigation technology, was interviewed by reporters from the www.cenews.com.cn at a seminar on water saving irrigation technology and desertification control held in Beijing.
According to him, of the world's total fresh water usage in 2000, 69 percent was used for agriculture, 21 percent for industry and 10 percent for daily living.
"Water saving hinges on reducing agricultural water consumption," he said. "If urban residents make water savings of 50 percent, that still only means an overall saving of five percent. However, if agricultural water consumption could be reduced by 50 percent, the total saving would be 35 percent."
Statistics show that China's annual water consumption stands at more than 600 billion cubic meters, of which 440 cubic meters are used by agriculture. Of this latter amount, at least 350 billion cubic meters are wasted, leaving vast room for improvement.
Doctor Aidi said that, by adopting modern advanced water saving irrigation technology, one hectare of farmland only needs 7,000-10,000 cubic meters of water a year. However, most of China's farmlands adopt the method of flood irrigation by which one hectare farmland usually needs more than 20,000 or even 30,000 cubic meters of water. "Flood irrigation not only results in the waste of water resource, but also leeches pesticide and chemical fertilizer out of the soil, resulting in polluted water," he added.
Electronic intelligent agricultural water resource irrigation technology is a kind of advanced drip irrigation and spray irrigation technology that can save 50-80 percent of water consumption.
Irrifrance applied this technology in the deserts of Libya, Israel and Syria and succeeded in cultivating wheat and creating the miracle acclaimed as the "green circle in the deserts." As a result, Dr Aidi was presented with the medal by the United Nations Water Assessment Program and honored by the French government.
He said that electronic intelligent agricultural water resource irrigation technology, starting from the fields of hydrology, meteorology, agricultural botany, mechanical engineering, and electronic information, has designed a series of accurate irrigation systems that scientifically control the irrigation method and water consumption volume. It can rationally adjust to keep the loss and evaporation of water to a minimum. Meanwhile, chemical fertilizer and pesticide dissolve in the water and infuse the crops through drip and spray irrigation, not only slashing the amount of chemical fertilizer and pesticide needed, but also reducing environmental pollution.
(China.org.cn translated by Li Jingrong November 11, 2003)