According to data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “water covers approximately 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, but less than 1 percent of that is available for human use.” Access to and the amount, availability and cleanliness of water are among the most important challenges facing society and agriculture and the people dedicated to growing food. So, what is Monsanto doing to help?
First, the company will work to increase water-use efficiency in irrigation across its own global seed production operations by 25 percent by 2020. While overall water use will always vary due to the weather, Monsanto estimates that these conservation efforts alone will result in saving between 30 billion and 80 billion gallons of water annually.
To reach the goal, Monsanto will expand implementation of drip irrigation systems, which enable water-use efficiency of up to 95 percent, compared with other systems that range from 50 to 65 percent efficiency. The company already has deployed these systems at facilities in water-stressed areas like India, Hawaii and Mexico. These includes both Monsanto’s owned and leased operations as well as the contract farms that grow seeds for the company’s products.
Also, Monsanto is developing the Genuity® DroughtGard® Hybrids with SmartStax® PRO corn, a drought-resistant product designed for broad use. This product, which is a part of the company’s collaboration with BASF Plant Science, will help farmers better manage crops in hot and dry conditions by using water more efficiently.
Monsanto is also taking efforts to help with world-wide drought issues, like AquaTEK™, a public-private partnership to improve irrigation efficiency in Italy. The AquaTEK™ program brings together key components of farm management: water management, improved seed genetics, irrigation system options and training and education. Monitoring several variables during the season makes it possible to compare the three systems in terms of productivity and resource use.
Last but definitively not least, locally, is collaborating with the Department of Agriculture and the Land Authority with their southern water conservation and aquifer restoration Water Retention Ponds project in Juana Díaz.