Tag Archives: footprint

Water Footprint in Food Production

By Max Troell

New studies that focus on the emerging issue of water usage in agriculture have been released.

Researchers from the University of Twente, the Netherlands, have provided a comprehensive account of the global green, blue and grey water footprints of different sorts of farm animals and animal products, distinguishing between different production systems and considering the conditions in all countries of the world separately. Some of the main findings from this study were:

  1. the blue and grey water footprints of animal products are larger for industrial systems than for mixed or grazing systems. From a freshwater perspective, animal products from grazing or mixed systems are therefore to be preferred above products from the bio-industry;
  2. the water footprint of any animal product is larger than the water footprint of a wisely chosen crop product with equivalent nutritional value;
  3. About 29% of the total water footprint of the agricultural sector in the world is related to the production of animal products; and
  4. one third of the global water footprint of animal production is related to beef cattle.

The same researchers have also carried out a complementary study that quantifies the green, blue and grey water footprints of hundreds of crops and crop products, showing variations from province to province, for all crops around the world.

You can download the two reports from: