Water for Sustainable Growth: How Plant Science is One Solution

Water for Sustainable Growth: How Plant Science is One Solution

March 19, 2020

This blog was adapted from Water for Sustainable Growth: How Biotechnology Crops are One Solution

Plant science can help farmers balance their water use with their production on the farm.

Every day, farmers around the world use tools and technology to do more with less. Lawson Mozley is a sixth generation farmer whose family has farmed the same land in the Florida Panhandle since the 1850s. For Mozley and other farmers from the US and around the world, water is critical to their production and to ensuring the sustainable farming of their land for years to come.

“For farmers, water represents balance. Not enough and our crops won’t grow. Too much, and they will drown and we will lose nutrients as they flow away,” Mozley says.

Drought and water scarcity, on the rise since the 1970s, put greater stress on farmers to keep up with growing demand for food, fiber, and fuel. One of the tools available that can help them grow more with less is plant biotechnology; It allows them to sustainably protect their natural resources and their livelihoods.

Farmers like Mozley embrace plant science because it helps them use less water and grow stronger, more drought-tolerant plants. The use of herbicide-resistant biotech crops allows them to adopt conservation tillage or no-till practices, which preserves nutrients in the soil and increases the amount of water the land can store.

“Preserving soil and water resources is key to agricultural sustainability,” Mozley says. “For generations, my family has used the best technology available to preserve the land and water that we depend on.”

From the Florida Panhandle to the African nation of Tanzania, more farmers are looking to change what they plant and how they farm to combat severe drought that results from the extreme changes in weather patterns. Dr. Esther Ngumbi, a research scientist at Auburn University and Kenyan native, believes plant science can help farmers all over the world thrive in the face of adversity.

“As they face a continuous decline of rainfall and recurring droughts, African farmers will need all the tools and resources they can get to adapt to the effects of climate change,” Ngumbi says. “Biotechnology will continue to play a big role and farmers should be open to considering planting genetically modified crop varieties that have been bred to grow with minimal amounts of water.”

Farmers all face the balancing act of feeding the hungry and caring for the land. The efficient and thoughtful use of water is critical to our farmers’ ability to strike that balance.