Measuring how efficiently water is used in agriculture, particularly in water-scarce countries, is going high-tech with the help of a new tool developed by FAO.
The WaPOR open-access database has gone live, tapping satellite data to help farmers achieve more reliable agricultural yields and allowing for the optimisation of irrigation systems.
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WaPOR was presented this week during a high-level partners meeting for FAO’s Coping with water scarcity in agriculture: a global framework for action in a changing climate. It allows for fine-grained analysis of water utilised through farming systems, generating empirical evidence about how it can be most productively used.
Worldwide water utilisation – the majority of which is used by agriculture – has outpaced the rate of population growth for most of the last century and some regions are close to breaching viable limits.
The WaPOR tool is being developed in co-operation with a consortium of partners in the Netherlands – eLEAF, University of Twente, ITC and Waterwatch Foundation – as well as VITO in Belgium. The work plan anticipates developing apps that can be run on smart phones, enabling locally relevant use of the data from the spatial database.