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Article

Water Footprint of Rangeland Beef Production in New Mexico

1
Department of Lands Management and Environment, Prince Al-Hasan Bin Talal Faculty for Natural Resources and Environment, The Hashemite University, Zarqa 13133, Jordan
2
New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
3
Department of Animal and Range Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
4
USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
5
Extension Animal Sciences and Natural Resources Department, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Pieter van Oel
Water 2021, 13(14), 1950; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141950
Received: 8 June 2021 / Revised: 7 July 2021 / Accepted: 13 July 2021 / Published: 15 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprint Assessment Research)
New Mexico (NM) has been identified as the state in the US that will be most adversely impacted by climate change and associated water stress. Roughly 92% of NM is rangeland, most of which is grazed by beef cattle. We calculated the blue (surface and ground) and green (precipitation) water footprints (WF) of NM beef cattle industry (cow-calf, backgrounding, and feedlot). This analysis indicated that the weighted average WF of NM beef cattle was 28,203 L/kgmeat. The majority of the WF was accounted for green water (82%; 23,063 L/kgmeat) used by rangeland forages. Blue water accounted for only 18% (5140 L/kgmeat) of the total beef WF estimate. The relative contribution of green vs. blue water varied significantly among the different phases of beef production. In cow-calf, green water accounted for 99.5% of the WF whereas blue water, accounted for 100% of beef WF during backgrounding and feedlot. Based on our estimate, NM cow-calf operations is about a third or a quarter of the blue water (m3/year) used to produce corn or wheat, and only 5% or less of the water used to produce cotton or hay. In NM, irrigation accounts for about 84% of freshwater use followed by public/domestic use of 10%. Mining, thermo-electric, livestock production, aquaculture, and industrial uses collectively account for the other 6%. View Full-Text
Keywords: blue water; green water; drought; forage crops; climate change; New Mexico blue water; green water; drought; forage crops; climate change; New Mexico
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sawalhah, M.N.; Geli, H.M.E.; Holechek, J.L.; Cibils, A.F.; Spiegal, S.; Gifford, C. Water Footprint of Rangeland Beef Production in New Mexico. Water 2021, 13, 1950. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141950

AMA Style

Sawalhah MN, Geli HME, Holechek JL, Cibils AF, Spiegal S, Gifford C. Water Footprint of Rangeland Beef Production in New Mexico. Water. 2021; 13(14):1950. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141950

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sawalhah, Mohammed N., Hatim M.E. Geli, Jerry L. Holechek, Andres F. Cibils, Sheri Spiegal, and Craig Gifford. 2021. "Water Footprint of Rangeland Beef Production in New Mexico" Water 13, no. 14: 1950. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141950

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