Save Water: A Chinese Innovation in Irrigation


To say that our lives would be incomplete without water is an understatement. There is no part of a human being’s life that can function without water but in this article, our focus would be on the importance of water for the provision of food. No lunch is complete without water – the water you drink, the water that helped grow the wheat in your sandwich bread, and the water that helped grow the vegetables or meat between the slices.

China has got a chronic and growing water shortage, and on the arid northern plain, where many thirsty crops are grown – the water table is plummeting, down hundreds of feet within living memory. Most of China’s water use goes to agriculture, and much of that water is used inefficiently.

Growing more food with less water will be one of the biggest challenges in the coming era of surging populations and increasing climate disruption. In China, scientists say they’ve developed a new irrigation method that’s twice as efficient as today’s best technology, part of an increasingly urgent effort by researchers around the world to meet the water challenge. This new underground irrigation system helps the plants roots draw only the water they need.

This system is named as ‘trace irrigation,’ by its inventor, Beijing native and businessman Zhu Jun, who has been workingIrrigation-Trace-Irrigation-Inventor-ZhuJun-WIth-Patent-Application on this system for about a decade.

It is said that this system of irrigation cuts down on pests, and fungus and weeds. Plus, a huge amount of water is saved, and the vegetables also taste better.

This system uses PV pipes, buried a foot or even deeper in soil. The pipes get narrower, and narrower, until they’re like thin straws, with something that looks like a tiny showerhead at the end, with little white threads coming out of it. These pipes are buried in the soil – and the plant sucks the moisture it needs from these threads.

Zhu says his system saves 70 or more of the water used in surface irrigation in China, and 30 to 50 percent compared to the alternative system of drip irrigation.

In China, there’s been significant interest in Zhu’s new system. He has already received two patents his China and one in New Zealand and Japan for trace irrigation, and he has applications pending in dozens of other countries, including the United States.

The new technology employed in this system is helping to save half the water, without the need of electrical power and lots of human supervision. Furthermore, this system also leads to a reduction not only in the use of pesticides and fungicides but also in the use of fertilizers. If the ‘trace irrigation’ system is used on a large scale throughout China, that would be good news for China’s lakes and rivers and groundwater, now choked with agricultural runoff.

All in all, this new technology is something that should be employed all around the world in order to not only improve irrigation but also reduce the wastage of water.


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