What is water use efficiency?

Water use efficiency (WUE) is a concept that was introduced 100 years ago. WUE refers to the amount of water that is used to produce one unit of crop. In agricultural terms, it is usually calculated as the litres of water used to produce one kilogram of product (e.g. fruit, grains etc.). The calculation of your farm’s WUE not only provides an indication of which crops, cultivars, or blocks use water more efficiently, but it also helps management to interpret the effectiveness of their current water management practices and to identify areas of improvement.

How can I improve my water use efficiency?

As water scarcity and population growth pose a serious risk to food security, maximum yield per unit of water is required. As the process of improving water use efficiency often requires an integrated approach, the following practices can be implemented to ensure that water is utilised to its fullest potential:

  • Implement conservation tillage to reduce evaporation and increase soil infiltration
  • Increase soil cover to minimise evaporation losses
  • Irrigate according to crop requirements and within the root zone
  • Make sure irrigation systems are maintained and kept in good working order
  • Ensure balanced nutrition by making use of a holistic fertiliser programme

By recognising the importance of water, the SIZA Environmental standard monitors the implementation of integrated practices to protect water resources and improve the efficiency of water usage. As the efficiency of any production input is measured in metrics, SIZA implemented the Digital Recordkeeping Programme as part of the MySIZA platform to ease the process of the interpretation and monitoring of current management practices. The SIZA Digital Recordkeeping Programme is a monitoring tool that will allow management to capture their production inputs such as water; fuel; electricity; fertilisers; chemicals, and waste each month.