Image courtesy of Bruno Girin
You can call it drip irrigation 2.0: a growing number of Spanish farmers have decided to sign onto an ambitious digital initiative linking up their fields to a national grid controlled from Madrid. Its main purpose, of course, would be to conserve water and costs - authorities estimate the new irrigation system could save 20% of the water Spain currently uses, or close to 1.3 trillion gallons every year.
Another benefit would be to simply overhaul a now dated infrastructure - in use since the 13th century when it was first introduced by the Moors. According to Juan Valero, secretary general of Fenacore, the irrigation farmers' federation, 200,000 farmers have already signed up for the project. By 2010, he hopes to raise that number to 500,000, which would then represent the vast majority of Spain's irrigation farmers.Fenacore is also encouraging farmers to lay down telecommunications cables alongside the new water conduits to allow regional and national officials to effectively monitor all aspects of the irrigation grid - where the water is going, how much is getting there and at what pressure it is. The farmers will be able to control all the action from their laptops and cell phones.
These developments come at a crucial time for Spain; years of debilitating droughts coupled with unsustainable levels of water use for irrigation (about 70% of all water resources) have convinced Spaniards of the need for change. Experts estimate that the nation loses more than 60% of its water before it reaches the tap, of which only a measly 1.5% is recycled. Though not bullet-proof (the technology will likely present some new problems in the short run), this new system should go a long ways towards helping tackle Spain's water management crisis.
Via ::Los Angeles Times: Water management 2.0 (newspaper)