عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: Water resources management in arid and semi-arid regions is very important specially, in agricultural sector. The major share of water use is daily consumption by humans for drinking, washing and cooking. Furthermore, population growth increases agricultural production demand, and this highlights the role of water resources management in the agricultural sector. The 1950’s studies showed 12 countries with a population of 20 million experienced water shortage. Virtual water is the volume of water which is consumed for a production from the beginning stage to the end. Scientists have shown that 96% of water footprints are related to crops, livestock and horticultural productions and only 4% it consumed as domestic water. Water balance data in Qom province shows that 90% of water resources are using in the agricultural sector. Investigation of water footprints in the agricultural sector is highly beneficial to improve water resources management in arid and semi-arid regions such as Qom.
Materials and Methods: The research was conducted to find out the production and cultivation water needs in the agricultural sector for 10 years, via calculating the gray, blue and green water footprints using Mekonnen and Hoekstra models. In the livestock sector, water footprint’s information such as the number of livestock and poultry, production of red meat, chicken meat, egg and milk were also determined using the Mekonnen and Hoekstra. The water footprint in fertilizer was calculated using a questionnaire survey. Excel and SAS apps were used to analyze the collected data for all three study sections.
Results and Discussion: The results showed that the water footprint in wheat, barley, cotton, onion, tomato, melon, watermelon, alfalfa, and corn were 3018, 2882, 10960, 1463, 1525, 960, 2504, 1683 and 416 m3/ton, respectively. The low irrigation efficiency led to a very high amount of white water footprint in the productions. Green water footprint was very low due to the lack of rainfall. In the livestock sector, the water footprint in red meat and milk were 39 m3/kg and 2.42 m3/lit, respectively which were much more than the global average. In the poultry sector, the water footprint in chicken meat and egg were 7.4 and 4.34 m3/kg, respectively, that were very high compared to the global average. The water footprint in fertilizer for wheat, barley, cotton and alfalfa productions were 2.62, 1.19, 1.07 and 2.54 m3/kg and this amount was higher under nitrogen fertilizer. The average virtual water footprint for chicken meat production in Qom province was 7.4 m3/kg. This amount in the world, USA, India, Russia, Mexico and the Netherlands is equal to 3.92, 2.39, 7.74, 5.76, 5.01 and 2.22 m3/kg respectively. In Netherlands, less water is in use in the agricultural sector than the other countries. In this country, the virtual water footprint in chicken meat is in the best position. India has the highest water consumption in poultry breeding with a consumption of 7.74 m3/kg. The average virtual water footprint in Iran for egg production is 4.34 m3/kg , while the average virtual water footprint for egg production in the world, USA, India, Russia, Mexico and the Netherlands is 3.34, 1.51, 7.53, 4.92, 4.28, and 1.4 m3/kg, respectively. India consumes the most water in the production of eggs such as chicken with a quantity of 7.53 m3/kg and the Netherlands has the least consumption with a value of 1.4 m3/kg .
Conclusion: The concept of virtual water footprint in each region reduces the pressure on water resources. For better management in agricultural regions, it is possible to prevent the cultivation of high water demand crops. The most common cause of high water footprint in livestock and poultry is nutrition, so, internationally food import can be a good solution. Industrialization of poultry can also reduce water footprint. The implementation of this research can be a useful clue to the sustainable control and management of water resources and achieving an optimal cultivation pattern in our country and all provinces facing limited water resources.