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Water 2015, 7(12), 7066-7077; doi:10.3390/w7126674

Reducing Agricultural Water Footprints at the Farm Scale: A Case Study in the Beijing Region

1
School of Life Science and Engineering, Southwest University of Science and Technology, Avenue Qinglong 59, Fucheng, Mianyang 621010, China
2
Development Center of Science and Technology, Ministry of Agriculture, South Road of East Third Ring 96, Chaoyang, Beijing 100122, China
3
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Private Bag 10, Clayton South, Victoria 3169, Australia
4
Department of Agricultural Economics, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
5
College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University, Yuan-ming-yuan West Road 2, Haidian, Beijing 100193, China
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Davide Viaggi
Received: 25 October 2015 / Revised: 5 December 2015 / Accepted: 14 December 2015 / Published: 18 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Water Consumption)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [550 KB, uploaded 18 December 2015]   |  

Abstract

Beijing is one of the most water-stressed regions in the world. Reducing agricultural water use has long been the basis of local policy for sustainable water use. In this article, the potential to reduce the life cycle (cradle to gate) water footprints of wheat and maize that contribute to 94% of the local cereal production was assessed. Following ISO 14046, consumptive and degradative water use for the wheat-maize rotation system was modeled under different irrigation and nitrogen (N) application options. Reducing irrigation water volume by 33.3% compared to current practice did not cause a significant yield decline, but the water scarcity footprint and water eutrophication footprint were decreased by 27.5% and 23.9%, respectively. Similarly, reducing the N application rate by 33.3% from current practice did not cause a significant yield decline, but led to a 52.3% reduction in water eutrophication footprint while maintaining a similar water scarcity footprint. These results demonstrate that improving water and fertilizer management has great potential for reducing the crop water footprints at the farm scale. This situation in Beijing is likely to be representative of the challenge facing many of the water-stressed regions in China, where a sustainable means of agricultural production must be found. View Full-Text
Keywords: crop production; life cycle assessment; water scarcity footprint; water eutrophication footprint; sustainable water use crop production; life cycle assessment; water scarcity footprint; water eutrophication footprint; sustainable water use
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Huang, J.; Xu, C.; Ridoutt, B.G.; Chen, F. Reducing Agricultural Water Footprints at the Farm Scale: A Case Study in the Beijing Region. Water 2015, 7, 7066-7077.

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