Connections between agriculture and water quality are many and complex. They can be classified in two types:
Agriculture as a
The development of big irrigation schemes has been an important factor for increasing food security in many regions of the world but, especially in arid areas, it has often been associated with land and water salinity problems. Expansion and intensification of agriculture have led to an increasing use of fertilizers and pesticides that, if not well managed, can degrade water quality of rivers, lakes and marine water bodies. In addition intensification of livestock farming systems is increasing pressure on these waters. Decoupling water pollution from agricultural production is a key challenge in the core of the FAO-Water program.
Agriculture as a user of marginal quality water
Such is the level of water scarcity and pollution that millions of farmers worldwide are driven to irrigate with marginal quality water such as wastewater from urban areas or saline agricultural drainage water. Additionally, concerns about the use of arsenic-laden water in agriculture are growing and therefore this emerging issue needs and will need special attention. Minimizing risks and, at the same time, maximising benefits when using such waters is an enormous challenge that FAO-Water contributes to achieve.