Globally, agricultural irrigation is the number one user of freshwater. Agriculture consumes about 70% of all water withdrawn worldwide, and up to 95% in some developing countries. The SAFIR project contributes to solving this challenge, addressing two major public concerns at the same time: the safety and quality of food products, and the increasing competition for clean freshwater. SAFIR is funded for the period 2005-2009 under the Food Quality and Safety thematic area of the EU 6th Framework Research Programme. The challenge for the next years will be to produce safe and high quality foods while at the same time reducing the use of natural resources and the impact on aquatic ecosystems that are frequently already polluted. These problems are linked, since most of our vegetables are produced using irrigation water from the same ecosystems. To ensure food safety and quality, the innovative SAFIR irrigation systems combine state-of-the-art water-cleaning technology with high-efficiency irrigation systems. The water treatments consist of both high tech and low tech solutions supplying sub-surface and surface drip irrigation system with roughly treated waste water. SAFIR has assembled a multi-disciplinary team, with food safety and quality experts, engineers, agronomists and economists from17 research institutes and private companies in Europe, Israel and China working together. The project assesses potential risks to farmers. Coupled with farm management and economic models, a new intelligent tool for efficient and safe use and re-use of low-quality water are being developed. Already published results indicate water saving in the order of 25-30% in agricultural crops as potatoes and tomatoes are possible without yield reduction. Slightly treated waste water can be used safely when irrigated as sub-surface drip irrigation. KU-Life and AaU-DJF are the major partners in SAFIR of important work packages covering development of new irrigation strategies, use of waste water for irrigation, modelling, risk assessment and economy. The Danish partners are now aiming at implementation of similar approaches in West Africa via capacity building at several levels for stimulating near urban vegetable based agro-busines and livelihood. A: Shows the novel partial root zone drying principle tested in SAFIR in potatoes. B: Drip irrigation set up in potato ridges in the field. When slightly cleaned waste water was used in sub-surface drip irrigated potato crops no harmful organisms could be found in the produce.
3nd Annual Meeting of the Danish Water Research Platform (dwrp, Forskningsplatformen - Vand), 2009, p. 4-5
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3nd Annual meeting of the Danish Water Research Platform, 2009