For this blog post, we at Hydrogrow are shining light on the issue of water scarcity and the potential for innovation to reshape the way we use water. As a start-up focused on hydroponics and eco-friendly gardening, we value the finite resources the earth has to offer and are continually inspired by new technology that can help us as a society reach a more sustainable, consciously-minded lifestyle.
The Current Problem
Populations rely on clean, fresh water for drinking, washing, growing food, producing electricity, and almost every other aspect of life. Despite this, over 2 billion people on Earth do not have access to clean drinking water at home, on demand. As the population climbs to a predicted 9.7 billion people by 2050, this problem will only be exacerbated in the years to come. There are two main contributing factors to the earth's increasing thirst - climate change and population growth.
Climate Change has been a permanent and prolonged presence in the media and global environmental concerns, but how does it effect global water supply? Changing extremes in weather patterns is now leading to unprecedented occurences of flooding and drought world wide. Instability of water supply from various counties means those facing drought, particularly low income countries, will face the greatest repercussions. Governments in developing countries will need to increase resilience and sustainability of the water supply and sanitation sector. In scarcity and safety, water efficiency, monitoring and treatment, and data and analytics, technology plays a crucial role.
So what can be done to overcome this acute crisis?
In the marketplace, entrepreneurs are witnessing a greater willingness by utility companies and businesses to test and adopt promising technologies: remote sensing of water, hydroponic technology, internet of things, and when combined with new computing capacity, allows us to develop complex models for water management.
Agricultural remodeling will play are large in this endeavor; as feeding 9.7 billion people by 2050 will require a 60 percent increase in agricultural production and a 15 percent increase in water withdrawals. Hydroponics offers a solution to this problem on a large and small scale basis.
Individually, using hydroponic technology to grow your own herbs, vegetables and fruit can save between 70-90% more water than traditional planting methods. This adaption to future-proof gardening techniques shows real promise if it is adopt by the masses.
On a large scale, we are already seeing large agricultural companies adopt some form of hydroponic technology to improve growth rates and reduce water usage. Currently, agriculture accounts, on average, for 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawals globally. Reducing this dependency is in corporates and societies best interest. This technique offers a way to skip the soil, sub in a different material to support the roots of the plant, and grow crops directly in nutrient-rich water. It had been found that compared to traditional farms, hydroponic farms use up to 90% less water. Light inputs are also optimized to ensure maximal absorption by the plants and maximal yield outputs.
Due to population growth, urbanization, and climate change, competition for water resources is expected to increase, with a particular impact on agriculture. Ever increasing competition for water resources will present new socioeconomic and political ramifications globally; demonstrating the urgency of investing in agriculture tech to minimize the damage already seen and providing sustainable solutions for the future.