Adaptation: Companies tackle ‘weird water’ risks head-on

On a Mongolian potato farm that supplies crops for Frito-Lay chips, parent company PepsiCo has reached water savings of 30 percent by installing pivot water systems, a transition from the flood watering that formerly hydrated the fields. The firm, which nets $65 billion annually, expects to convert again, this time to drip irrigation, using 50 percent less water than traditional farming methods.

Nestle, the world’s largest food company, installed solar-powered soil moisture monitors in tomato fields in Italy. By saving water and fertilizer, the company will see a return on its investment in one to two years, according to the global public affairs manager for the company.

And Statkraft, the state-owned Norwegian power company, is looking to build a hydropower station in Albania that will also serve as a water storage tank for agriculture for use in dry years.

In the midst of some of the worst droughts in recent history, some of the world’s biggest corporations are becoming more serious about the risks, but also the opportunities, climate change will bring to business.

Adapting operations to deal with too much, too little or too erratic rainfall will be expensive but will also create a chance for investment in innovation and infrastructure, said attendees at the annual World Water Week in Stockholm last week.

“Even if all of this costs money,” said Thierry Berthoud, managing director of energy and climate at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, “people should recall that once you spend money as an investment to overcome a change, this money is, if well-placed, entering in the economic cycle and is creating a benefit.” Berthoud spoke at a session at World Water Week on seeking profits in a world of changing water landscapes.


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4 responses to “Adaptation: Companies tackle ‘weird water’ risks head-on

  1. Following a dramatic expansion of fox and coyote numbers in Wyoming as predator control waned, it had an expected negative impact on the pheasant population. The publication, Wyoming Wildlife, has adamantly and angrily denied that predators could ever be a factor in the decline. They blamed uranium mining when it was booming, they blamed oil exploration, even though the mining and drilling was no where near any pheasnt populations (farming country). The latest boogeyman for them is, sprinkler irrigation! “It does away with irrigation ditches and destroys pheasant’s habitat!”

  2. Where did the pheasants live before the farmers were there? Back on topic, these are the sorts of innovation that I like to see. The government might put some money into the research that proves one method superior to the other, or identifies the situations where one method is preferred, but keep them out of the specific companies that produce and install the systems.

  3. Ringneck pheasants are from China. They are an introduced species, and did not occur here naturally.

  4. Adaptation is nothing new. Every age has its priorities re-aligned to adapt to changes whether utilitarian, environmental ( and no, I don’t mean Carbon Dioxide), social or intellectual. This is called innovation and has nothing to do with needing to ‘save’ the world.

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