Audacious ‘Desert Wheat’ Scheme Wilts in Saudi Arabia

With depletion of fossil aquifer used for irrigation, cultivating wheat in Saudi Arabia’s desert proves just another pipe dream.

“Flush with hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from its humongous oil exports several decades ago, and understandably uneasy about its utter dependency on grain and food imports to feed one of the fastest growing populations in the world, Saudi Arabia embarked on a grand scheme to grow wheat in the desert using irrigation water from a fossil aquifer (one that is not replenished) beneath the dry, shifting sands of the desert kingdom.

“Saudi Arabian Farms “Make the desert bloom!” – at least until the groundwater runs out… Photo:  Center-pivot irrigation wheat fields in the Saudi Arabian desert. Each green crop circle is 0.5 mile in diameter.

As international commodity traders quipped, the Saudis would no longer have to “sell hydrocarbons to buy carbohydrates.”

“But because the aquifer is a relic or “fossil” of an earlier, wetter geologic age – no longer replenished by rainfall and infiltration/percolation – it is a nonrenewable resource subject to depletion. In this sense, it is not unlike Saudi Arabia’s other great nonrenewable or fossil resource – oil – which is also pumped out of vast subterranean reservoirs that are not refilled.

“Every gallon of water withdrawn amounts to “mining” the aquifer, since the water is not replaced. From the moment the first droplet of water was pumped upward and sprinkled onto wheat crops, this short-lived scheme’s days were numbered.”

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.capsweb.org

GR:  Aquifer depletion is a global problem. Groundwater pumping would have turned central Arizona into a desert if developers had not covered the land with houses. Residential developers have been mining water in my neighborhood for years. While local city governments do everything they can to support the developers in their quest for more immigrants, they ask current residents to conserve water. The most outlandish hypocrisy they’ve committed is to ask children to turn the water off while they brush their teeth. Saving water makes no sense when our governments are doing all they can to spend it.

See on Scoop.itGarryRogers Biosphere News

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