Water misuse will halve farms in UAE: study

Leaks are a major cause for loss of water (Wam)

Studies show that bad water consumption may reduce the number of farms able to grow vegetables in the UAE to half. To improve best practices, the Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Centre (ADFSC) has launched a campaign to stop waste of irrigation water.

The campaign against wastage, mostly resulting from water leaks in the defected irrigation systems and equipment, will last for 7 weeks.

The campaign will include field visits to farms in the Western Region to raise awareness among farmers on using safe systems and repairing the defected water systems.

This campaign falls within the ADFSC's work strategy aiming to reduce water consumption by 40 per cent by 2014 and to translate the Abu Dhabi Government's Strategy purposing the preservation of natural resources through the control of the amount of water used in irrigation and the stoppage of water depletion. This constitutes an ideal occasion to preserve the natural resources for future generations.

Survey indicators on the danger of incorrect water consumption show that its quality and efficiency in agriculture is lowered remarkably leading to the reduction of the number of farms capable of growing vegetables particularly.

Survey statistics conducted from 2006 to 2010 indicate that out of every 1000 farms which used to rely on underground water with high quality of class A, there are 500 farms only which preserved their underground water with the same quality level after four years whereas the quality level was decreased in the rest farms noting that water quality reduction in the said farms will render them incapable of growing certain types of vegetables.

The ADFSC stated in a press release issued today that water constitute a valuable and a rich resource in the UAE since it is subject to depletion because of the scarcity of water and misuse of the available water and because of dry weather charactering the UAE since sand covers more than 70 per cent of its territory.

The ADFSC added that the Agricultural Sector is considered as the greatest water consumer; farms consume around 80 per cent of water used in the UAE which is mostly sourced from underground water stored in wells.

Due to the great dependence on this resource, there is a dramatic diminishing of underground water reserves regardless of salinity increase which will result in the decrease of the number of crops which can be grown.

The ADFSC also affirmed that the best way which enables every farm to preserve water is to make always sure that there are no failures in the irrigation system since the leaks caused by holes or failures in the irrigation network will lead to the waste of great amounts of water. Statistics indicate that failures or holes in 10 valves lead to the waste of 130 litres of water per year which is an amount sufficient enough to fill 9 tankers of water.

The ADFSC also invited all farm owners to immediately fix all the failures in the irrigation networks at their farms following the scientific techniques through the inspection of all the irrigation network components and the localization of leaks. Water may easily escape the system at valves where take-offs disintegrate or PVC connections perish. Therefore, connections inspection should be done periodically in addition to the replacement of the broken plastic PVC's with galvanised iron ones and the replacement of leaking taps.

It is also recommended to reduce the number of valves used in the irrigation system by the installation of fixed flow, pressure compensating drippers because the fewer the components in the system, the less chance there is that something can go wrong.

As for the leaks resulting from holes occurring where hoses are dragged, poorly fixed or kinked, the ADFSC urged farm owners to quickly replace the leaking plastic pipes, cut out broken sections, connect with a coupling, and cover PVC pipes with soil or casing to prevent them from deteriorating.

The ADFSC further recommended, where possible, to replace leaking pipes entirely. It is often less time consuming and costly to replace very damaged pipes than to repair them.

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