Submitted to: Resource Magazine
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: March 14, 2007
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
Citation: Colaizzi, P.D. 2007. Water resource stewardship is essential in the forthcoming century. Resource Magazine. May 2007. p. 8-12. Interpretive Summary: The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) will be celebrating its centennial at the 2007 Annual International Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This article reviews the role that agricultural and biological engineers have played in revolutionizing agricultural productivity during the past century, especially the productivity increases due to irrigation. In the forthcoming century, there will be new demands placed on agriculture to provide biofuels, species habitat, carbon sequestration, and other materials. Irrigation will be vital in meeting these demands; however, less water will be available for this purpose. Agricultural and biological engineers will therefore be called upon to engineer even greater increases in crop water use efficiency, which will be vital for the stewardship of precious water resources.
Technical Abstract: Worldwide, irrigation accounts for 40 percent of total crop production from less than 20 percent of cultivated lands. In the forthcoming century, irrigated agriculture will be essential in meeting new demands for food, fiber, biofuels, species habitat, carbon sequestration, and other renewable materials by a population that is increasing both in size and in industrialization. At the same time, there will be less water resources available to meet these new demands due to competing uses (urban, industrial, environmental), impaired water quality, reduced quantity, and climate change. In the previous century, agricultural and biological engineers made significant contributions toward increasing agricultural productivity, such as farm mechanization, food processing, and irrigation technology. In the forthcoming century, continued innovations will be essential for increasing crop water use efficiency, which in turn will play a vital role in managing water resources.