NAU News: Fallowing cattle-feed farmland simplest way to alleviate western water shortage, FEWSION-based study finds

Kerry Bennett | NAU Office of the Vice President for Research

Posted March 2, 2020

“All over the world, the rate at which humans consume fresh water is now approaching or surpassing the rate at which water sources are being naturally replenished, creating water shortages for people and ecosystems…

“…An important new study published this week in Nature Sustainability finds that irrigated crop production accounts for 86 percent of all water consumed in the western U.S.—and of all the water used on western farms, by far the largest portion goes to cattle-feed crops such as alfalfa and grass hay. To alleviate the severe shortage of water in the region—especially in the Colorado River basin—the study’s authors suggest that rotational fallowing farmland, leaving the land uncultivated for a period of time, could be a simple and affordable means of dramatically reducing water use in the region.

“Study co-author and principal investigator Ben Ruddell, who is director of Northern Arizona University’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, leads the FEWSION project, a multi-institutional team effort launched in 2016 and funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF), to assess the nation’s food, energy and water systems. The broader FEWSION research team contributed the data-intensive maps it has produced of these coupled human-natural systems. NAU assistant research professor Richard Rushforth, the lead data scientist on FEWSION, also co-authored the study…”

Read the Full Article HERE.

Posted in Archived News, FEWSION in the Media.