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Neil Palmer/CIAT.

Why is the mantra of "more crop per drop" so seductive?

Compelling discussion, commentary, stories on agriculture within thriving ecosystems.

Think. Eat. Save: Challenging conventional thinking on water productivity

In honor of the today's World Environment Day Theme: Think, Eat, Save, the AgEco Blog team interviewed Dennis Wichelns, former Deputy Director General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Dr. Wichelns challenges conventional thinking on water productivity and its effectiveness in maximizing crop production.

Water productivity - the amount of a crop produced per unit water - is a much used measurement. A quick search for the phrase on Google Scholar yields nearly 18,000 citations. So it is popular, but is it of any use? Former IWMI Deputy Director General, Dennis Wichelns, thinks it may not be. He believes that to distill crop production down to merely the amount of water used leaves a lot of important information out of the picture. Fertilizer, seeds, plant intakes, labor and unpredictable influences like the weather all play their part, but are ignored by such a simplistic ratio. But if the calculation has such shortcomings, why is the mantra of "more crop per drop" so seductive?

Interview conducted by Abby Waldorf, Communications and Engagement Fellow of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.