Inge de Graaf, a researcher at Water Systems and Global Change, was awarded a 1.5-million euro starting grant by the European Research Council (ERC). She will develop a model that links the availability of groundwater and agricultural production across the globe.
De Graaf wants to know how much groundwater can be extracted before aquatic ecosystems are threatened and to what degree this groundwater contributes to the production of sufficient food in various parts of the world, both now and in the future. She stresses that water usage is not sustainable in many parts of the world, causing rivers and wells to fall dry.
She intends to link three different models in an effort to gain insight into the water issues and possible solutions: a global groundwater model she developed during her PhD research in Utrecht; a model that maps and details the availability of surface water; and a Wageningen crop production model. ‘An integrated model of this type and scale does not yet exist. I am the first person to link the availability of groundwater to crop production.’
An integrated model of this type and scale does not yet exist. I am the first person to link the availability of groundwater to crop productionInge de Graaf, researcher at Water Systems and Global Change
This link provides a more realistic perspective on the volume of groundwater available for food production now and in the future and what measures may be taken to use groundwater more sustainably. De Graaf intends to investigate where the usage of groundwater may be reduced by, for example, using water more efficiently or reducing food waste. But she also wants to study whether more water may be made available by desalination, for instance.