Water is the life-blood of agriculture; it is the liquid elixir that nurtures the growth of billions of hectares of crops needed to feed the world. The ample supply of water for farming and agriculture often means the difference between feast and famine. Many parts of the world, however, suffer from the opposite - the growing scarcity of water available for agriculture. The reasons can range from drought and desertification to climate change and climate variability, pollution, over-use and poor water management practices.
Acutely aware of the seriousness of this problem, affected countries are implementing measures to ensure adequate water supplies for farming. Some of these measures involve the use of nuclear techniques to better understand, analyse and mitigate the root causes of the problem.
With technical help from the IAEA, countries from Africa, the Middle East and Asia are reporting successes in water resource management. Some notable examples:
In Libya, nuclear techniques helped identify proper "fertigation" management resulting in tremendous savings in water and fertilizer use. Fertigation is the process of applying fertilizers through a drip-irrigation system and can efficiently control the flow of water and nutrients to the roots of the plants. For Libya, this process helped increase potato yield by 150% and halved water and nitrogen use. Read more
In Algeria, the fast rate of soil and water salinization drastically reduces the amount of arable land and contributes to desertification. This situation is most pronounced in the western part of the country, where 30% of the area consists of very saline soils and where there is a shortage of good quality water for irrigation. Using nuclear techniques, an IAEA-assisted project there is helping develop appropriate irrigation, drainage, soil and crop management practices so that preventive and corrective measures can be taken. Read more
In Bangladesh, soil and
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