Improving water efficiency
Farming accounts for around 70% of water used in the world today and also contributes to water pollution from excess nutrients, pesticides and other pollutants. But the competition for water is increasing and the costs of water pollution can be devastating. Increased pressure from urbanization, industrialization and climate change will provide agriculture with more competition for water resources.
Better Grain is committed to sustainable management of water in agriculture. This is critical to increase agricultural production, ensure water can be shared with other users and maintain the environmental and social benefits of water systems. Through an improved and efficient water use framework, we can help farmers reduce input cost and maintain the rice ecosystem.
Some of our work in this space involves encouraging laser leveling programs and assisting in the development of new varieties of crops which are water efficient.
We also have comprehensive water conservation strategies in our own processing plants.
ALTERNATIVE WETTING AND DRYING (AWD)
Alternate wetting and drying (AWD) is a management practice in irrigated rice that saves water and reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while maintaining yields. Better Grain has trained hundreds of farmers in AWD techniques.
By reducing the number of irrigation events required, AWD can reduce water use by up to 30%. It can help farmers cope with water scarcity and increase reliability of downstream irrigation water supply. AWD is assumed to reduce methane (CH4) emissions by an average of 48% compared to continuous flooding. Combining AWD with nitrogen-use efficiency and management of organic inputs can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This set of practices can be referred to as AWD+BMP (Best Management Practices).
AWD+ does not reduce yields compared to continuous flooding, but may in fact increase yields by promoting more effective tillering and stronger root growth and vigor of rice plants. Farmers who use pump irrigation can save money on irrigation costs and can obtain a higher net return from using AWD. AWD may reduce labor costs by improving field conditions (soil stability) at harvest, allowing for mechanical harvesting
Our work in direct seeding of rice has been welcomed by farmers . Using this system has a lot of benefits: drudgery and land preparation time is saved, optimum plant population management can be maintained, energy use is reduced by 30%, and water use is reduced by 25-30%. Yield increases can be expected at 10-15%, and rotation crop yields can also expect to increase. Greenhouse gas emissions can reduce by 30-35%.