Water is already in short supply in many areas of the world and climate changes are making things worse. In some areas of the world up to 80 percent of the water consumption is spent on irrigating agricultural crops. This is not feasible in the long run. As clean water becomes in short supply in these areas, the precious drops will be in great demand. Scientists from Aarhus University have developed a new irrigation method as well as control methods that can save precious drops of water.
The new irrigation method – alternating irrigation or PRD (partial root zone drying) – involves watering the crops on first one side then on the other side. The method stimulates the plants’ own ability to save water by stimulating sensors in their root tips, which in turn stimulates production of the plant hormone abscisic acid. The hormone makes the plants’ stomata close, which reduces evaporation from the leaves.
Studies with potatoes have shown that the method can reduce water consumption by 20 percent without decreasing yield.