Water is precious use it wisely with our foodstuffs

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Water is precious use it wisely with our foodstuffs

Water is precious, so use it wisely.
by Martin Kunhardt

Pic sourced

Aquarius the water carrier never imagined that water would become so volatile in the 21st century. Nations are at loggerheads over the right to use common border rivers and lakes. Governments strive to provide potable water to swelling populations and this becomes a political issue when communities continue to collect water from unsafe sources.

Water is essential for life and the greatest user continues to be the agricultural sector. We could blame them, but without water we would be struggling to feed millions of people in South Africa. Overhead irrigation is still the most cost effective way of delivering the required quantity of water to crops.

However, this method wastes around 50% of the applied water. Evaporation and the almost haphazard application seems wasteful, but in reality, mankind has not figured out a way to effectively apply water to crops.

In Biblical times, flood irrigation was the norm but in the past 2 000-odd years, populations have exploded and agricultural land has made way for human settlement.

South Africa is a water-poor country with definite wet and dry seasons. The winter-rainfall areas in the Western Cape produce a bounty of delectable fruits and grains while the tropical north-east continues to provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables because of the high rainfall experienced there.

Most urban gardeners rely on treated municipal water to grow their kitchen gardens and to keep the lawns green all year round. Most plants do not appreciate the added chorine and other chemicals, but urban gardeners have few options available if they grow their own herbs and vegetables.

Rainwater tanks are the ideal solution to provide plants with untreated and ‘healthy’ water.

Having small gardens or even complexes where there is little or no available ground to produce food crops does not exclude anybody. Planter boxes and large pots can provide salads and herbs year-round. The satisfaction of harvesting our own home-grown lettuces, cucumbers or salad greens brings out the urban gardeners’ skills we inherited from our ancestors.

Larger gardens are more productive but also will require more water.  Growing kale, butternuts and squash alongside carrots and beans needs more than a few pots although old car tyres provide space saving when doing potatoes and tomatoes.

Car tyres can also reduce the need to waste water. Filled with compost and soil, the tyres become self -contained and weeds are excluded. Water fills the curves of the tyres and becomes a reservoir so daily watering is not needed.

Terraforce retainers can also provide areas to grow plants provided the soil is amended and fertilizer added. Vertical planting can be one way to save space, but that requires some level of skill. So Google that!

Seasonal vegetables taste better if you have nurtured the plants from seedling to harvest. The cold chain has opened the world’s greengrocer stores to all South Africans.

Now we can get New Zealand kiwis, Israeli cucumbers and other ‘exotic’ fruits in our local stores. Eating anything ‘out of season’ is a luxury these days. Trying to source locally grown fruit and veg reduces the carbon footprint and helps the planet.

Water is precious and, as our population grows, using water wisely to grow food will become critical. Our local water sources are becoming polluted with run-off from large-scale agriculture and from factories, mines, human settlements so more and more chemicals are being added to make it ‘safe’ for human consumption.

Whatever we feed our plants is taken up so ‘we are what we eat’ becomes very relevant!


Ways to reduce the need to water:

•          Add lots of organic matter to the soil prior top planting.

•          Mulch well with hay or straw to reduce evaporation (Don’t use lawn clippings).

•          Use drip irrigation to deliver the water to the root-zone.

•          Provide partial shade to seedlings and young plants.

•          Eradicate the competition from weeds and other undesirables.

•          Use companion planting to invigorate the plants.

A good degree or professional certification can help secure an interview for your dream job, but once you’re sitting in front of the recruiter or potential employer, you’ll need to show what you can offer in addition to your qualifications. Today’s top employers are looking for more than the right training and education. They are seeking employees who are well-rounded, adaptable, committed and a good fit for their organisational culture. Here are a few attributes that recruiters and potential employers look for.


1   Mind-seT: Employers are looking for attitude as much as they’re looking for aptitude when they hire. They’d rather develop someone with the right outlook who needs some training than hire someone with great skills and low motivation. Honesty, accountability, flexibility, curiosity and commitment are all as important to employers as your qualifications. If you can show that you’re motivated, upbeat, and eager to learn, that will give you an edge in the job market.


2   Interpersonal skills: Today’s workplace is diverse and collaborative, which means that most organisations are looking for people with high levels of emotional intelligence. Someone with good interpersonal skills is more likely to thrive than a superstar who lacks the tact and professionalism needed to play well with others. As good as your degree and experience might be, a recruiter or potential employer will also want to know that you can collaborate and lead.


3    Life experience: Employers often like to see that their employees have interests outside work and that they can bring diverse life experiences to their job. A modern office is a multi-disciplinary environment. The leadership skills you learned as a school rugby captain, the strategic thinking you developed playing competitive chess, the ability you developed to write clearly from your love of reading, your exposure to different cultures during a gap year of travelling – these can all be as valuable to an employer as your formal qualifications.


4    Work experience: Young jobseekers often feel caught in a catch-22 situation – they can’t get experience because no one will give them a job and they can’t get a job because they have no experience. Against this backdrop, it’s important to seek out experience to add to your CV. You can volunteer at a charity (many non-profit organisations need help in disciplines such as IT, finance or marketing), take vacation jobs, or start up a small business to sharpen your skills and get practical experience.

5    Cultural fit:The question of how you’ll fit in will generally be top-of-mind for someone interviewing you for a job. Cultural fit is about how likely you will be able to adapt to the core values and collective behaviours that make up an organisation. Having the right fit with a company means you’ll be happier at work and that you’ll be more likely to perform to the organisation’s expectations.  There are many factors that shape a corporate culture – corporate policies, geographic location, industry, size, the personalities of the founders and managers, values, and more - and the trick is to find a place to work that suits your personality and working style. 

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