Web tool helps calculate your water footprint

03/21/2014 10:33:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

EvergladesVicky BoydA University of Florida Web-based tool helps you compare your water footprint to a global footprint.With an increasing number of buyers requesting sustainability reports from suppliers, how can you accurately calculate the water portion?

If you farm in Florida, Georgia, Alabama or Texas, the University of Florida has launched a Web-based tool that can do just that.

WaterFootprint is part of the AgroClimate system, developed by Clyde Fraisse, a UF associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, according to a news release.

The Web-based AgroClimate, is aimed primarily at agricultural producers and includes interactive tools, such as freeze risk probabilities and a citrus copper application scheduler.

Users enter their zip code, the crop, planting and harvest dates, yield, soil type, tillage and water management. The Web-based tool then produces a water footprint, which can be viewed at farm level or globally.

The tool also retrieves historical water data and uses it to estimate the blue and green water footprints of crop production.

Green represents rainfall, whereas blue is from a freshwater resource.

If a product is exported, the water used to grow it goes with it. That's a problem if crops are grown in regions where water is scarce, according to the release.

But understanding the types of water resources being consumed—rainfall versus irrigation—can provide better insight into assessing water resource sustainability.

“We think this farm-specific, time-specific water footprinting tool is a unique resource that could be used by resource managers and educators to consider water resource sustainability in the context of agricultural production,” Daniel Dourte, a research associate who was the tool's primary developer, said in the release.

“We usually think of water management locally and regionally. But when you’re accounting for the water footprint of agricultural products, it allows you to see the global nature of that water.”



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