Fight against drought. Image: n21SURIYA Shutterstock
We look at some of the drought measures that are in development and in use around the world. Different ways to fight against the lack of fresh water.
Drought is one of the worst natural disasters we have faced in recent years. But there are innovative solutions to reduce the effects of droughts, as well as measures to prevent them.
Drought occurs when a region receives less rain than normal. Contrary to the simplicity of this definition, the current scenario is devastating.
Droughts not only affect plants, crops or livestock in a region, they are also a great threat to people. It is a natural catastrophe due to the damage it causes to the entire ecosystem that suffers it.
We have many examples of how droughts produce great economic instability, due to the reduction in food production. In the past 40 years, no natural disaster has affected more people than droughts.
The climate change is a major factor in the increased frequency of droughts in various parts of the world. As our planet warms, in many regions there is less rainfall and droughts are becoming more frequent than ever.
However, there are some solutions to be able to fight and minimize its negative effects.
1. Desalination of water.
Despite the fact that more than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, only 0.003% is fresh water. In many places in the world, the only annual rains replenishing their fresh water sources.
But what if we could desalinate the water? Then the oceans would help us to get unlimited fresh water.
But It’s easier to say it than do it. Desalination of water is quite expensive, it requires a large amount of energy, in most cases fossil fuels.
But advances in this sector have now meant that filters are made of graphene, which can desalinate water with nothing more than hydrostatic pressure, significantly reducing the amount of energy required.
2. Collection of rainwater.
Despite being one of the oldest known methods for harvesting fresh water, harvesting rainwater was something that had been lost in today’s homes, which hardly anyone uses.
Lately it has seen a lot of growth, people are thinking again that it is a good option to have fresh water. With rainwater harvesting, households can store fresh water so that it can later be used when needed.
In urban areas, only 15% of rainwater seeps into the ground, while in rural areas 50% of rainwater is absorbed by the ground. Rainwater harvesting offers urban and rural areas an efficient option to store rainwater for use in times of drought.
If a home has a primary water source, rainwater harvesting provides them with an extra option that they can use when water is not available or to lower their bill.
3. Drip irrigation.
The drip irrigation are looking for plants and soil have their optimum moisture. The advantage of this system is that it does not waste any water, it uses it 100%.
The most modern farms use drip irrigation systems, which can work autonomously. Drip irrigation ensures that each plant receives the right amount of water, which reaches its roots directly.
4. Collecting water from the air.
Air as we know it contains many elements, and one of them is humidity. If we could develop an efficient system to harvest that moisture and condense it, we could harvest water from the air.
Technologies to extract water from the air there are many, more modern and older. We talk about the famous fog catchers in Chile, AQUAIR a portable mist harvesting device, Warka Water the bamboo tower that produces up to 100 liters of water per day, Source Hydropanel a solar panel that allows to obtain up to 5 liters of water per day from the air or this MIT system. Examples within the great variety that exists.
5. Crop engineering.
We can develop new mechanisms outside the plants to keep them irrigated and safe from drought, but we can also genetically engineer them to be resistant to lack of water.
Food production is a crucial part of life. However, droughts can affect productivity and alter the balance of available food.
Crop engineering hopes to genetically modify crops to help them increase their yields and provide them with greater resistance to drought.
A Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) research project has successfully improved the way plants use water, up to 25% more efficiently.
Various organizations around the world are developing research to design crops that can withstand the harshness of droughts. Even using salt water.
6. Solar pumps.
The most common method we use to irrigate fields or provide water to livestock is by pumping it from the ground. However, the pumps consume electricity, which in turn consumes more fossil fuels.
Solar pumps are gaining popularity because they do not use electricity from the grid to pump water for irrigation. Governments around the world are realizing the potential of solar pumps and some have even started offering subsidies to farmers to install them profitably.
One of the best ways to increase the water holding capacity of the soil is to add organic matter to it. Organic material has been shown to increase the water holding capacity of the soil.
Today, many people compost their organic waste and then mix it with the soil. As temperatures rise, the soil begins to lose water more quickly and this is a viable way to reduce organic waste and improve crop yields.
8. Planting more trees.
Many countries have begun efforts to convert drylands to forests through massive reforestation.
This may seem old-fashioned, but planting trees is the best way to reduce damage caused by drought, improve the quality of the environment, and increase the level of rainfall.