Thinking Tech

New irrigation system helps farmers conserve water

New irrigation system helps farmers conserve water

Posting in Energy

World Water Day: An new irrigation system for farmers may help to shore up the problem of excessive water use.

The world is getting undeniably thirstier.

Recent studies project that water demand in many countries will exceed supply by 40 percent by the year 2030. However, about 90 percent of the world's water consumption is being tapped to produce food and energy, meaning nations that can effectively manage their water supply would likely be in the best position to nourish economic prosperity.

China has already begun thinking a few steps ahead and recently announced plans to pour the equivalent of $600 billion over the next 10 years into conservation technologies and revamping their water management infrastructure. With such vast financial resources at their disposal, the drought-prone nation has been exploring potential solutions to wasteful irrigation practices that have threatened to impede industrial growth.

Driptech, a small Silicon Valley-based water technology firm, hopes to play a major role in that effort. The company has developed an irrigation system for farmers that may help to shore up the problem of excessive water use. Their system is a simple network of polyethylene plastic tubing with strategically placed holes that allow just enough water to drip into to the roots of crops. Compared to expensive large-scale pressurized irrigation systems that require the complete flooding of large plots of farmland, the technology costs $100 dollars and can reduce water usage by 30 percent.

"In India, it's the farmer that's responsible for paying for water and diesel pumps," Driptech's Director of Business Operations Jean Shia told Fast Company. "In China, the government benefits more, because they're responsible for providing water. So we have different channels set up in each country to benefit multiple stakeholders."

While the company may have seized on an opportunity, bringing an idea to the market still requires working through the layers of regulations and negotiating with various institutions such as non-governmental organizations (NGO), government agencies, and distributor. But what's encouraging is that the Chinese government has given the go-ahead to a pilot program in the Shanxi province where the company is currently collecting data and plans to evaluate the results when it is completed.

(via Fast Company)

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure