With the world's population estimated to be sitting on 7.5 Billion people and rising (Worldometers, 2017) it is important to address future environmental and production issues now. Australia has a relatively small population of 24.5 Million people but ranks 53rd out 233 listed countries (Worldometers, 2017) so as a nation we definitely have a role to play in how natural resources are distributed and consumed. Australia uses a total 17,375 GL of water per year (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017) and this staggering number is still set to rise. With a growing population the need for water in agriculture also increases. This article will highlight the current water uses in NSW and Australia and why we need to start to determine how to combat the challenges of the future.


(Figure 1)

To determine how we can best make use of our available water we first need to view how it is being used already. Figure 1. shows the water usage across NSW. From the data gathered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics we can see that the amount of water used in agriculture was on the rise from 2011 to 2014 but almost halved in 2015 due to recent advancements in agricultural practices (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017). However the amount of water required for agriculture is more substantial than any other industry. This is why it is important to look at how water is being distributed within agriculture.


(Figure 2)

Figure 2. Depicts how water is distributed to various crops and livestock in Australia. It is important to note how much more water it takes to produce livestock compared to crops but it is also important to determine if better practices could be put in place to reduce any water wastage. One of the challenges primary producers around the world face is the land. Most farming land around the world is not suitable for farming and a lot of water is used to make the land fertile enough (KATZ, 2016). Therefore it is not viable to expand into more land that would require more water usage, instead we need to determine the best way to use to the water and land already available to us.


63% WASTE 37% USED

(Figure 3)

One way science has determined to help the environment is through the use of biofuels. And while the use of biofuels is helping the green environment the production of biofuel crops uses much more water than crops for consumption. For example the use of corn for ethanol fuel needs 5678 litres of water to produce 1 litres of ethanol (UK Biofuels, 2010). For this reason many countries are not investing resources into producing biofuels. Another issue that agriculture is faced with is water wastage. A study into agricultural water efficiency found that 63% of water delivered to the field in irrigation is wasted (Wallace, 2000). 63% water wastage equates to thousands and thousands of litres of water being wasted which could be greatly improved through innovative science and design.

There are many challenges we must face in the future with a booming population. One of the most pressing issues is water use and consumption. It is important for us as a global community to determine how we can best use our current resources and improve agricultural practices for future generations. Water use is not just an issue for the future population, it is an issue for now. It is our job to determine best practices for the future through a combination of innovative research, science and design.

By: Mathew Busch

Check out the DATA for yourself!

Links to my data sources before being compiled.