Over 60 million acres are being irrigated in the United States, requiring some 51 trillion gallons of water. A large portion of this irrigation occurs in the 17 continuous Western States which receive low rainfall – requiring withdrawals from depleting freshwater aquifers. Withdrawals from brackish water aquifers are currently limited due to the salinity of the water. In many areas of the world, freshwater shortages challenge the sourcing of food. Both the agriculture and livestock industries require fresh water. Although water from brackish aquifers can be used for agricultural watering, crop yields are usually adversely affected.
Irrigation water use includes water that is applied by an irrigation system to sustain plant growth in all agricultural and horticultural practices. Irrigation also includes water that is applied for pre-irrigation, frost protection, application of chemicals, weed control, field preparation, crop cooling, harvesting, dust suppression, leaching salts from the root zone, and water lost in conveyance. In 2010, the agriculture industry withdrew an estimated 115 million gallons per day from fresh and brackish water aquifers.
The use of MI Systems’ technology for the production of treated non-potable water for the livestock watering marketplace could be a logical follow-up to our entry to the Irrigation market. This is because the purity requirements for livestock water are higher than those for irrigation, but lower than required for potable water.
Livestock water use is water associated with livestock watering, feedlots, dairy operations, and other on-farm needs. Livestock includes dairy cows and heifers, beef cattle and calves, sheep and lambs, goats, hogs and pigs, horses, and poultry. Other livestock water uses include cooling of facilities for the animals and products, dairy sanitation and wash down of facilities, animal waste-disposal systems, and incidental water losses. At some 700 billion gallons per year in the United States, the water requirements for livestock are much smaller than for agriculture. However, this still represents a significant market opportunity for MI Systems.