Water Quality in Agriculture: Risks and Risk Mitigation

This publication provides the latest information on the water quality requirements of crop, livestock and fish farming, the assessment of water quality and options to address any related challenges.

The book Water Quality in Agriculture: Risks and Risk Mitigation offers a comprehensive look at risk assessment and mitigation, with an emphasis on technical solutions and good agricultural practices. It was published in October 2023 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) at the Rome Water Dialogue. The guidelines cover crop and livestock farming, as well as fish farming or aquaculture.

An often-overlooked factor contributing to water scarcity is water quality deterioration, especially in many low- and middle-income countries where water treatment and other pollution control measures are not keeping pace with population growth and urbanisation. This is resulting in about 30 million hectares of agricultural land, home to over 800 million residents, irrigated with unsafe water. Salinity is the other major factor affecting water quality. Globally, it has an impact on 20 per cent of the cultivated land area and an estimated 33 per cent of irrigated land.

Water can be contaminated through a variety of pathways and can potentially spread bacteria, viruses and parasites to crops, humans and animals. Besides others, the authors take a look at waterborne pathogens that become foodborne pathogens through irrigation. They provide an overview on potential microbiological risks and corrective actions as well as of risk analysis frameworks.

Combining and updating previous FAO works on water quality, salinity and wastewater reuse, the 2023 release is a compendium guiding evaluation and safe use of water for agriculture, with due attention to health and environmental protection. 

The book gives an overview of key recommended water quality guidelines, with special emphasis on wastewater and brackish (salinity) water use, their risk assessment and mitigation options for pathogenic and chemical contaminants, including salinity-related threats.

National and subnational governmental authorities, farmers, project managers, extension officers, engineers as well as academics will find the publication an invaluable resource to assess water quality information and identify potential problems and solutions related to water quality from farm to the basin.


Read more on the IWMI website

Download the book on the FAO website

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