Quantifying and reducing the water footprint of New Zealand agricultural products

potato-plants.jpg Massey staff members involved:

Indika Herath – PhD student
Associate Professor David Horne and Dr Ranvir Singh

Other organisations involved in project:

Plant and Food Research – Brent Clothier

Project description:

Meeting the ever increasing demand for food while preserving our scarce water resource is a great challenge. The Water Footprint (WF) is a metric that is used to quantify the impact of a product’s life cycle on water resources. This project aims to assess the WF of New Zealand grape-wine and potatoes. In this study, we quantify the water use at different stages of the product life cycle and then assess the impact for two aspects: the quantity and quality of water resources. Water availability and impacts are different from region to region. Therefore, we consider the regional differences within the country as well. As a part of the project, we measure agrichemicals leaching to groundwater using drainage fluxmeters installed in two sites under potatoes. These measurements will demonstrate the water quality impacts.

New Zealand receives plenty of rainfall that replenishes its water resources. Products from a water-rich environment have an advantage over the products from water scarce regions. Different water footprinting protocols evaluated in this study will demonstrate this advantage. The project also looks at potential improvements to reduce the water footprint. These will formulate a package of improvements options to minimise the impact on our precious resources.

This research is being carried out by Indika Herath, a PhD student who is supervised by Brent Clothier from Plant & Food Research, David Horne and Ranvir Singh from Massey University.

Measuring drainage
Measuring drainage.

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