Facts About Water

Interesting facts about water.

| July/August 2013

Which of the following do you think contains the greatest proportion of water? A watermelon, a glass of milk, a ripe tomato, or your next-door neighbor?

If you guessed a watermelon, you’re wrong. According to the people who measure these things, a ripe tomato contains between 93 percent and 95 percent water, while a watermelon comes in second at 92 percent. A glass of milk consists of 87 percent water, while the human body is made up of just 61.8 percent water — though our brains are 75 percent water.

More precious than gold and more common than dirt, water covers nearly 71 percent of Earth’s surface. But before you turn on the hose, remember that only about 3 percent of all the water on our planet is freshwater, and just 0.6 percent of that is available as surface water in lakes, rivers and streams. About 2.4 percent of Earth’s freshwater is solid, locked into glaciers and the polar icecaps, while 1.6 percent of our freshwater reserves lie in underground aquifers.

Whether you raise a vegetable garden, an orchard, field crops or livestock, you know it takes water — and lots of it — before the fruits of your labor reach the dinner table. In fact, agriculture leads the world in freshwater consumption, with about 60 percent of all freshwater use going toward agricultural irrigation.

Facts about water for the farm

Unless you raise pineapples, which consist of 80 percent water, in the shadow of Mount Waialeale on the Hawaiian island of Kauai — the wettest or second wettest place on Earth, with 460 inches of annual rainfall — you likely know something about the importance of giving your garden a timely watering.

Depending on your soil type and climate, a tomato plant needs about 16 inches of water per season, or about 2 quarts of water per plant per day, to reach maturity. Potatoes generally require between 18 and 20 inches of water, while it takes as much as 20 to 25 inches of water during the growing season to produce a ripe watermelon. A pecan orchard in the arid southwest requires between 60 and 72 inches of water per season, and if you’re a Midwestern corn farmer, you’ll need 23 to 24 inches of water to harvest a 200-bushel corn crop.

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