The World Bank estimates that over 70% of earth’s freshwater is used for agriculture. Industrial-scale farming and livestock operations account for the vast majority of that. These “conventional” practices do produce a lot of calories for human consumption, but are highly inefficient when it comes to water usage.
First, it’s estimated that it takes about 660 gallons of freshwater to make one conventionally grown hamburger patty. For context, that’s like two months worth of showers. Second, the soils of these massive grain farms are mostly dead matter that don’t hold water for more than a few hours, requiring daily watering of epic proportions. More than just being inefficient, these conventional practices use massive amounts of petroleum-based, chemical fertilizers and pesticides to generate the yields that those profit-driven models desire. Those chemicals, of course, leech out of the fields and poison the local water table and eventually, world’s rivers and oceans.
Yet another assault on earth’s water is from the methane emissions of industrial livestock that heat the planet and melt the polar ice caps, destroying the largest source of freshwater on the planet. The good news is that there is a better way and we already know how to do it. It’s literally the opposite of all that bad stuff mentioned above. Regenerative agriculture (which is really just a fancy way of describing that natural way that humans have farmed for thousands of years) builds soils with lots of organic matter which will hold water for weeks and is, therefore, vastly more efficient. And since regenerative agriculture is inherently organic agriculture, that water runoff won’t poison the earth’s waterways.
Did we mention that these types of soils are naturally hungry for CO2? That means that regenerative agriculture is also one of the most powerful ways to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. If you’re the kind of person that enjoys the flavor of delicious produce, taking a bite of a freshly picked plant grown in this nutrient-rich soil is an experience that you’ll want to repeat every day of your life.
Water is life. Let’s use it wisely!