Farmers must resort to technology to cope with more arid conditions
Maltese farmers recently took up an opportunity to hone their water management skills, decrease water demand for agriculture and protect the quality of existing ground water.
Higher temperatures and water scarcity are starting to present a challenge to agriculture even in countries far to the north. Farmers must resort to technology to cope with more arid conditions.
In the face of encroaching climate change, visiting experts from Spain and the UK have been showing farmers how to better manage their fields. Around 80 farmers attended workshops on making more efficient use of available water while monitoring salinity and nutrients in soil.
"Despite annual rainfall having been markedly low these past two years, Malta has not yet approved a national water management policy."
Researcher in environmental informatics Stephen Hallet, a contributor to Malta’s soil information system since 2002, spoke on challenges farmers face. “Not every soil is good for every crop, and lack of water is an ongoing concern. We are always trying to understand how soil properties affect crops.”
Sharing of experiences is crucial toward preserving the local crop industry and protecting the groundwater resource. “Rather than lock farmers in a classroom we decided to hold demonstrations in the field,” said Malcolm Borg, deputy director of the Institute of Applied Sciences at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology.
The on-farm initiative is part of a Horizon 2020 project with EU funding to foster water-agriculture research and innovation in Malta (FoWARIM) organised by the Mcast Water Research and Training Centre in collaboration with Cranfield University.
[Photo by Bernt Rostad | Flickr]