Recycling drainage water for sustainable wheat farming

wheat field

Egypt faces many challenges when it comes to water and energy. A two-year study has shown that using drainage water for irrigation is not only a sustainable use of water but can also save farmers money.

A UK-Egypt team investigated the suitability and benefits of using drainage water from fish farms for wheat irrigation instead of using fresh canal water. They found that the nutrients in the drainage water can help achieve higher wheat yields and reduced the use of chemical fertilisers, creating much needed savings for farmers. Reducing the use of fertilizers is also good for the environment.

The study involved field experiments at the National Research Centre, Egypt, as well as modelling for soil moisture, salinity, nitrogen and yield to provide management guidelines for farmers for more efficient use of resources.

Further funding would enable the team to communicate the impact of their work and apply water management techniques to poor and marginalised farms.

"Non-conventional water resources present an attractive solution. Treated waste water, drainage water, mining and agri-food industry waste water, breweries waste water, sugar industry waste water, rainfall harvesting etc. can all be used for irrigation to produce food and feed."

Professor Ragab Ragab, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

This project was shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2020.

Watch a short film about the project on YouTube. 

Using SALTMED model for substantial water management under Egyptian conditions

Project leads: Professor Ragab Ragab, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Professor Abdelraouf Abdelghany, National Research Centre, Egypt

Delivery partners: British Council, UK and the Science, Technology and Innovation Funding Authority, Egypt

SDG icon 17 SDG 12 icon SDG 15 icon SDG 2 icon