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IBGE and ANA release study on use of water in dry farming in Brazil

April 14, 2020 10h00 AM | Last Updated: April 15, 2020 12h13 PM

This survey analyzes monthly data between 2013 and 2017 and it will be incorporated into the Environmental-Economic Accounts for Water in Brazil. Dry farming refers to non-irrigated farming. Between 2013 and 2017, this type of farming faced an average water deficit of 37% in Brazil.

The National Water Agency - ANA and the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics - IBGE carried out the survey The Use of Water in Dry Farming in Brazil (2013-2017), with strategic information for planning the use of water and improving agricultural policies in Brazil. Dry farming refers to those that do not receive any kind of irrigation.

Generally speaking, the survey points out that the consumption of water by dry farming is nearly 8.1 thousand cubic meters per second or 8.1 million liters per second, an average for the years surveyed. Yet, dry farming was subject to an average water deficit of 37%, with 30% in more critical periods of vegetative growth and 7% in periods near the harvesting.

The deficit represents how much water lacked for the complete development of the crops. It was more significant for corn and sugarcane. Corn is often planted in regions and periods of increased climate risk. Sugarcane was also affected by a more unfavorable weather than the historical average, though it is quite resistant to water deficit.

Considering agriculture as a whole, either irrigated or non-irrigated, it consumes nearly 10 thousand m3 of water per second, of which 92.5% come from local hydrological cycle ("green water", from rainfall and soil) and 7.5% as an additional supply through irrigation ("blue water", collected in superficial and subterranean water sources). In the five years under analysis, the changes in water use were subtle, exerting regional impacts both in terms of rainfall and as the expansion or retraction of the planted area of some crops.

Such detailed data represent a significant improvement for the assessment of water use in Brazil, allowing to know the potential expansion of irrigation, which already accounts for 66% of the consumption in Brazil, according to the panel of indicators for 2020 of the Manual of Consumptive Use of Water in Brazil. As a result, the study can subsidize public policies and the implementation of instruments of water and agriculture management in Brazil, pointing out areas where the enhancement of dry farming with irrigation is sustainable.

This work was based on two major studies: the IBGE´s Systematic Survey of Agricultural Production - LSPA, which computes the percentage of each crop harvested on a monthly basis, and ANA´s Irrigation Atlas, the most complete map of the Brazilian irrigated agriculture. The study was supported by the German International Agency of Cooperation for Sustainable Development (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit - GIZ).

The results will be used as inputs for the revision, regionalization and improvement of the surveying of the Environmental-Economic Accounts for Water - CEAA in Brazil, scheduled to be released in May 2020. The second edition of the Irrigation Atlas will also benefit from the analysis of dry farming: Water Use in Irrigated Agriculture, also scheduled to be published in 2020.

Environmental-Economic Accounting for Water: Brazil

In March 2018, the IBGE, ANA and the Ministry of the Environment released the Environmental-Economic Accounting for Water: Brazil - 2013-2015. As a result, it was possible to understand more clearly the relationship between the water resources and the aggregated value of each economic activity and how water performs a key role in the economic development of Brazil.

The initiative aims at systematically producing and disseminating information relative to the balance between the quantitative and qualitative availability of water, as well as the water demand of the several sectors of the Brazilian economy, including those of the families.  The new series of the Environmental-Economic Accounting for Water: Brazil will cover the years from 2013 to 2017 and will be put out in the beginning of May, including the regionalization of the data according to the Major Regions of Brazil.