Improving Water Productivity in Irrigated Agriculture: Challenges from Climate Change and New Water Resources Paradigms
The increasing pressure on water resources is due to continuously growing consumption, which itself results from demographic and economic developments and the effect of expected climate change. Therefore, action to encourage the more efficient and productive use of water is urgent. Water management needs to focus on regulating the use of this limited resource by multiple users; the allocation of water to non-agricultural users, in particular, is increasing steadily. Moreover, increased variability in climate regimes is expected to modify the volume, temporal and spatial distribution of water storage and fluxes, and therefore to affect the distribution, availability and sustainability of regional water resources. Irrigated agriculture is one of the sectors also facing new challenges. Given that water scarcity is expected to worsen in large agricultural production areas, one such challenge is how to maintain or increase sustainable agricultural production under growing water use restrictions. Improvements in agricultural water management should seek to conserve not only water but energy and soil, too, while still satisfying society’s relentless demand for high quality food and fiber crops, and livestock, aquatic and forest products. This work addresses the main problems related to this topic, illustrated with case studies from Europe and Asia.
KeywordsAgricultural water management Climate change Irrigation water productivity Water use indicators
The support of FCT, Portugal, through the research unit LEAF-Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food (UID/AGR/04129/2013), and of FCT and FEDER, through the research project HIRT—“Modelling surface hydrologic processes based on infrared thermography at local and field scales” (PTDC/ECM-HID/4259/2014–POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016668), is acknowledged.
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