The mission of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI)—to secure more nutritious food with less stress on our scarce water resources—is more relevant and urgent than ever. This 2021 Annual Report highlights the important work of the institute and its partners to expand and accelerate efforts to produce more nutritious food with less water; catalyze the development and deployment of solutions to the next generation of producers, water managers and entrepreneurs; strengthen water and food systems to adapt to water-related shocks; and reverse the wide-spread trend of water quality degradation.
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As technology advances, it has become increasingly clear how agricultural water management tools developed by Nebraska researchers and others around the world can help create powerful synergistic systems to support producers.
When it comes to food and water security, in addition to building large centrally managed irrigation infrastructure projects, it’s important to help smallholder farmers make decisions on personal investments in irrigation, including the design, purchase, and installation of irrigation systems.
Over the past four decades, partners across Nebraska have worked to address rising nitrate levels, and while improvements have been made, levels continue to worsen across large portions of the state.
Increasingly frequent drought events pose a high risk to agricultural producers in the U.S. and other farming areas around the world. The need for a better understanding of how to manage water resources to help mitigate drought and other impacts of climate change has spawned a new era of water policy.
As DWFI’s reputation and expertise in effective water management grows, so do opportunities to make a difference in communities both local and abroad. Thanks to a generous $5 million gift from Anne Hubbard, MD, and her family’s foundation, the Claire M. Hubbard Foundation, a new Water, Climate and Health Program was introduced during the summer of 2020.
The spider web of glacially fed aquifers in the U.S., known as “Quaternary aquifers,” supply five percent of U.S. drinking water and most of the nation’s irrigation, but they are a mystery. Aquifer geology is too variable to map through common methods such as drilling, so scientists don’t know how, where or how closely aquifers and streams in the intricate web connect.