Research and Economic Development, Office of


Date of this Version



University of Nebraska–Lincoln Office of Research and Economic Development (2010). Proceedings of the 2010 Water for Food Conference. Lincoln.


Copyright 2010, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. All rights reserved.




Today 75 to 80 percent of human water consumption is used to grow food. The projected doubling in food demand, coupled with the impact of climate change on the geographic availability of water, will significantly increase the demand for water and the potential for a water crisis.

As native Nebraskans, we know very well the linkage between water and food. We grew up in an agricultural state, in an environment with an abundance of good soil, enough rainfall and water for irrigation, and the constant expansion of agriculture through innovation. As the threat of global poverty and food insecurity grows, we know that water security and food security are inextricably linked. Without adequate water resources, we cannot meet the needed increase in food production. We must grow more “crop per drop.”

This was the key issue at the 2010 Water for Food Conference: Growing More with Less, hosted by the University of Nebraska with the support of the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Monsanto Company. This report documents the ideas and discussions that emerged from that conference.

Two weeks before the conference convened, fellow Nebraskan Robert B. Daugherty showed his commitment to the efficient and sustainable use of water to feed a growing world population with a founding gift of $50 million from his foundation to the University of Nebraska to establish the global Water for Food Institute. As founder of Valmont Industries, the most successful irrigation company in the world, Daugherty played a role in transforming production agriculture and was a leader in addressing one of the most critical challenges facing our world. His gift creates an opportunity for the University of Nebraska to make a lasting impact on global poverty and hunger.

The conference provided a forum to bring together more than 300 people from 13 countries who share our urgent interest in finding innovative solutions to the challenge of growing more food with less water. We hope this report inspires you to consider your contribution to growing more with less.

Executive Summary

Chapter 1-Introduction

Chapter 2- Global Perspectives on Water for Food

Chapter 3- Genetics and Physiology of Crop Water Use

Chapter 4: Human Dimensions of Water for Food Production

Chapter 5: Technologies and Advances in Water Management

Chapter 6: A View from Agricultural Producers

Chapter 7: Climate Challenges to Water for Agriculture

Chapter 8: Key Issues for the Future