Industrial Agriculture's Water Use: It's Time for Change
Obviously, crops and animals need water to thrive and sustain a hungry and growing population, but intensive agricultural practices exert more stress on watersheds than rainfed cultivation of ecologically appropriate crops. Even irrigation can sustainably maintain fields during periods of drought. But the worldwide expansion of industrial-scale cultivation of water-intensive crops and feedlots on more marginal land magnifies the pressure on already overstretched water resources. In America, recent high crop prices spurred increased corn cultivation in more arid regions of the high plains and the Rockies. In Central Asia, irrigation of cotton has almost completely eliminated the Aral Sea, once the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world.