The first requirement for food security is the availability of the water resources essential for agricultural production. Agriculture currently accounts for 70% of the water consumed worldwide. The figure is as high as 90% in some countries. While many of them are under increasingly severe water stress, it is now urgent to use water more efficiently in irrigation.
"Only 20% of the world's land is irrigated. Of this 20%, 80% is flooded, a very inefficient technique. Of the remaining 20%, only 5% uses microtechnology, which enables optimum water use. The total amount of water wasted is enormous. There is huge potential for improvement in this area."
Juan Antonio GuijaroManaging Director of SUEZ Advanced Solutions
We have developed a smart irrigation technology based on the use of meteorological, cartographic and hydrological data. Expert algorithms enable farmers to optimise their water, energy and fertiliser consumption, while maintaining or increasing production levels.
More rational water resource management, though indispensable, will not be enough on its own to combat water stress, which could affect 40% of the world's population by 2035. It will be necessary to increase wastewater recycling for agricultural use, which currently accounts for only 2% of the wastewater collected.
We are in the forefront of these developments, recycling 800 million m3 of wastewater every year. We have already reached our target of tripling our capacity to produce alternative water (recycling of wastewater, desalination) by 2030, in order to conserve water resources in the face of the consequences of climate change. Thanks to treatment techniques such as ultraviolet light, reverse osmosis and membrane filtration, we now know how to recycle wastewater with a quality level suited to each use. Ultrafiltration membranes are particularly effective for providing water suitable for the needs of agriculture and industry. Today, only 2% of the wastewater collected is reused.
The Lyon conurbation is an undeniably rich region, with almost 10,000 hectares of agricultural land used for different types of farming, from livestock, to market gardening, orchards, cereals and horticulture. But his balance between town and country is under threat from rising demands for irrigation and energy, the scarcity of agricultural land due to urban sprawl and rising transport costs that are detrimental to the growth of local consumption supply chains.
In response to these economic, social and environmental issues, we have developed the innovative suburban agriculture project (API) with our partners, the Rhône chamber of agriculture, the Rhône water syndicate (SMHAR), Blue Line Logistics and Eiffage Energie/Route. This initiative was launched in November 2018 to add new impetus to this agricultural ecosystem, while also addressing the demands for food security and the conservation of local resources.
The initiative has three goals: (1) Responsible water resources management by upgrading the irrigation network for the production or storage of energy and to replenish the water tables. (2) The adaptation of agricultural output to the needs for food of the local population in order to build local distribution channels, increase food self-sufficiency and create bonds between citizen-consumers and farmers. (3) The creation of a last-kilometre supply chain that uses river transport and electric vehicles to reduce atmospheric pollution.
Three suburban areas have been chosen for the pilot phase of the project that is currently under development. The API project eventually aims to cover the entire region. Ultimately, this initiative will give birth to a new, more ecologically responsible and circular agricultural model that promotes local produce and maintains the balance with the urban environment.
"Today, fertilisers, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, are made from non-renewable resources in mines and plants that transform the nitrogen in the atmosphere. We offer farmers recycled fertilisers produced by the circular economy.”
Laurent GaltierOrganic Activity Manager, Innovation, Marketing and Industrial Performance
"We are stepping up our work with farmers to offer input for their methanation plants and to find outlets for the recovery of their by-products, such as cereal residue, maize cane, etc. in our own methanation plants."
Anne-Valérie GoulardCEO of SUEZ Organique
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