Water and Farming

In a world where there is increasing demand for food and water, and environmental change is impacting on weather and the availability of land and water, there are significant and intensifying challenges for both the agri-food and water sectors. These include:

  1. Agriculture’s impacts on water quality – Agriculture is one of the main sources of pollution (particularly nitrates and phosphorous) of water bodies. Is it possible to balance high aspirations for environmental water quality with significant growth in agricultural production to meet food security objectives and provide viable livelihoods for farmers?
  2. Water availability and efficiency in agriculture –in the UK the pressure on water supply is increasing due to expanding population and climate change, and extreme floods and droughts events are increasing too. There are challenges around i) competing users of water (agriculture, industry, domestic) ii) water efficiency especially in times of scarcity, iii) catchment management to enable coping with too little and too much water; adaptation and trade-offs in response to extreme events.
  3. Water use in our food imports – what are the risks in our supply chains and how can we best assess and manage them alongside possible risks producers may face overseas?

The Director of the Global Food Security programme, Professor Tim Benton, led a multi-stakeholder task force looking at different aspects of water and farming, covering its impact on water quality, water availability and water in imported food. See reports here.

These reports made a number of recommendations which the partnership is currently reviewing and planning how to implement, led by members of the Research and Innovation delivery group.

The Sustainable Food, Farming and Water workshop will explore new ways of working across sustainable food, farming and water; to showcase good practice with selected case studies, and to identify remaining barriers to action and how to overcome these.