Determining the water requirements of KwaZulu-Natal farmers

CSIR researchers have worked with the Department of Water and Sanitation to determine how much water is being used by farmers in KwaZulu-Natal and how much is required for irrigation, commercial forestry and other activities. A series of maps detailing this water use is currently being produced as part of this project.

A CSIR project to determine the water requirements of KwaZulu-Natal farmers focuses specifically on commercial farms in the province, given that agriculture uses more than 60% of the country’s water resources. The information will be used by the Department of Water and Sanitation to update the Water Use Authorisation Registration Management System.

The validation component of the project involved the CSIR generating a database of crop types and their water requirements on each identified property before requesting users to submit further information to validate the data. Information required included types of crops or forest land uses on each property, the extent of each land-use type, total irrigated area for each crop type, reservoirs presence and current water use.

Earth observation technologies were used to determine the extent and types of crops and plantations, as well as reservoir areas for current and historical periods. CSIR hydrologists were able to determine the water requirements and estimate the capacity of farm reservoirs using remote-sensing data.

In 2015, the project team commenced with the verification component of the project. This involved hosting stakeholder sessions in the province where farmers assisted in verifying the information collected through the validation component.



Department of Water and Sanitation


Department of Water and Sanitation

Contact Person

Dr Harrison Pienaar

Key Concept

Earth Observation
Earth observation is the gathering of information about planet Earth's physical, chemical and biological systems. It is used to monitor and assess the status of, and changes in, the natural environment and the built environment.