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Special Issue "Sustainable Irrigation for the Future: Addressing the Challenges to Improved Water Use Efficiency"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2017

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. David Horne

Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Website | E-Mail
Interests: irrigation management; the environmental impacts of landuse

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Despite, or perhaps because of, it many advantages, agricultural irrigation faces a number of major challenges. Firstly, there is uncertainty around the adequacy of water reserves or sources. The demands placed on the world’s fresh water resources threaten to outstrip supply. In many countries, irrigation to agricultural landscapes is the single largest use of freshwater. Secondly, in addition to its effects on water quantity, irrigation often adversely impacts water quality, as nutrient leaching tends to increase under more intensive production systems, which can be established once limitations imposed by soil moisture stress are removed. Thirdly, the financial costs of irrigation schemes and systems, and the day-to-day expenses associated with running and managing these systems, is also increasing. Climate change heightens both of these challenges and the importance of irrigation.

Governments, their regulating arms, consumers, and society in general, is demanding that famers produce more from less irrigation water, while also reducing their environmental footprints. Given the costs associated with irrigation, farmers are also interested in extracting more value from irrigation. Metrics, such as irrigation efficiency, as it is variously defined, and the water footprint are being used to guide the search for more sustainable irrigation practices.

Sustainable irrigation, in all that this entails, is dependent on marked improvements in water use efficiency from the point of water extraction through to the harvesting of saleable produce. Fortunately, there are a number of emerging technologies that hold significant promise for the future. Many of these developments can be brought under the rubric of precision irrigation, which marries the ability to manipulate irrigation hardware with the increased ability to map variation in soil type and sense the real-time soil moisture content and water requirements of crops.

Prof. Dr. David Horne
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable irrigation
  • water quatity
  • water quality
  • water use efficiency
  • soil moisture
  • precision agriculture
  • climate change

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Assessing the Reliability of Thermal and Optical Imaging Techniques for Detecting Crop Water Status under Different Nitrogen Levels
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1548; doi:10.3390/su9091548
Received: 10 May 2017 / Revised: 2 August 2017 / Accepted: 22 August 2017 / Published: 30 August 2017
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Abstract
Efficient management of irrigation water is fundamental in agriculture to reduce the environmental impacts and to increase the sustainability of crop production. The availability of adequate tools and methodologies to easily identify the crop water status in operating conditions is therefore crucial. This
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Efficient management of irrigation water is fundamental in agriculture to reduce the environmental impacts and to increase the sustainability of crop production. The availability of adequate tools and methodologies to easily identify the crop water status in operating conditions is therefore crucial. This work aimed to assess the reliability of indices derived from imaging techniques—thermal indices (Ig (stomatal conductance index) and CWSI (Crop Water Stress Index)) and optical indices (NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and PRI (Photochemical Reflectance Index))—as operational tools to detect the crop water status, regardless the eventual presence of nitrogen stress. In particular, two separate experiments were carried out in a greenhouse, on two spinach varieties (Verdi F1 and SV2157VB), with different microclimatic conditions and under different levels of water and nitrogen application. Statistical analysis based on ANOVA test was carried out to assess the independence of thermal and optical indices from the crop nitrogen status. These imaging indices were successively compared through correlation analysis with reference destructive and non-destructive measurements of crop water status (stomatal conductance, chlorophyll a fluorescence, and leaf and soil water content), and linear regression models of thermal and optical indices versus reference measurements were calibrated. All models were significant (Fisher p-value lower than 0.05), and the highest R2 values (greater than 0.6) were found for the regression models between CWSI and the soil water content, NDVI and the leaf water content, and PRI and the stomatal conductance. Further analysis showed that imaging indices acquired by thermal cameras (especially CWSI) can be used as operational tools to detect the crop water status, since no dependence on plant nitrogen conditions was observed, even when the soil water depletion was very limited. Our results confirmed that imaging indices such as CWSI, NDVI and PRI can be used as operational tools to predict soil water status and to detect drought stress under different soil nitrogen conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Irrigation-Induced Changes in Evapotranspiration Demand of Awati Irrigation District, Northwest China: Weakening the Effects of Water Saving?
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1531; doi:10.3390/su9091531
Received: 1 June 2017 / Revised: 22 August 2017 / Accepted: 24 August 2017 / Published: 28 August 2017
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Abstract
The evapotranspiration demand of the Awati irrigation district has changed with irrigation development since 1980. During the first period of traditional irrigation expansion from 1980 to 1997, reference crop evapotranspiration (ET0) decreased as irrigation intensity increased. Since the second period
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The evapotranspiration demand of the Awati irrigation district has changed with irrigation development since 1980. During the first period of traditional irrigation expansion from 1980 to 1997, reference crop evapotranspiration (ET0) decreased as irrigation intensity increased. Since the second period of water-saving irrigation extension began in 1998, the gross irrigation quota has decreased as the water use efficiency improved, whereas ET0 has been increasing accordingly. The increasing evapotranspiration demand has enlarged the irrigation water requirement per unit area, which partly weakens the effects of water-saving irrigation. Findings show that irrigation-induced changes in evapotranspiration demand should be considered when evaluating the performance of water-saving technologies in irrigation districts in arid areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Influencing Factors of the Adoption of Agricultural Irrigation Technologies and the Economic Returns: A Case Study in Chaiyaphum Province, Thailand
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1524; doi:10.3390/su9091524
Received: 5 June 2017 / Revised: 10 August 2017 / Accepted: 23 August 2017 / Published: 27 August 2017
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Abstract
This empirical research investigates the factors influencing the adoption of three irrigation technologies using a probit statistical model: water wheel (WW), water pump (WP), and weir (WR) irrigation technologies as well as their economic returns per unit of rice cultivated area. The influencing
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This empirical research investigates the factors influencing the adoption of three irrigation technologies using a probit statistical model: water wheel (WW), water pump (WP), and weir (WR) irrigation technologies as well as their economic returns per unit of rice cultivated area. The influencing factors were categorized into demographic, socioeconomic, topographical, institutional, and attitudinal factor groups by 207 rice-growers in the Chaiyaphum province in northeastern Thailand. The results revealed that the land holding size, farm income, and water use association (WUA) membership factors were highly positively associated with the WW adoption. Meanwhile, age, farm income, skills training, and WUA membership were negatively correlated with the WP adoption. Nevertheless, proximity to a water source and upstream farmland location were positively correlated with the WP adoption. The WR adoption was positively associated with age but negatively correlated with the land holding size, upstream farmland location, and group participation factors. The cost–benefit analysis indicated that the WW irrigation scheme generated the highest economic return with the benefit-to-cost ratio schemes. The findings suggest that the WW irrigation technology would be deployed in the water management of other agricultural areas in the region to overcome the unfavorable geography and alleviate the local farmers’ disadvantageous economic conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Impact of Pricing Policies on Irrigation Water for Agro-Food Farms in Ecuador
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1515; doi:10.3390/su9091515
Received: 8 May 2017 / Revised: 5 August 2017 / Accepted: 22 August 2017 / Published: 25 August 2017
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Abstract
The institutional reform of the State established in Ecuador during the last decade has aimed at regaining control of specific sectors such as the consumptive use of water. Since 2014, regulation, consumption, and use of water, especially in agriculture, have been analyzed through
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The institutional reform of the State established in Ecuador during the last decade has aimed at regaining control of specific sectors such as the consumptive use of water. Since 2014, regulation, consumption, and use of water, especially in agriculture, have been analyzed through policies and fiscal instruments. This research presents itself in the context of the simulation of scenarios using positive mathematical programming, to analyze the economic impact of pricing policies on agro-food farms. Policies of fixed costs, water blocks, and volumetric prices are evaluated. The results show that the existing fixed costs do not reduce water consumption. In contrast, the scenarios of water blocks and volumetric prices impact on the behavior of farmers. The tendency of water consumption to the application of volumetric prices demonstrates that banana farms have a greater tolerance to the increase of water costs. On the other hand, the response to an increase in cost in the case of cacao, sugar cane, and rice depends on the productivity of farmers. The negative effects can lead to the abandonment of agriculture. Thus, volumetric policies are more efficient in reducing water consumption as well as in recovering the costs of the irrigation system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability Implications of Deficit Irrigation in a Mature Water Economy: A Case Study in Southern Spain
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1144; doi:10.3390/su9071144
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 8 June 2017 / Accepted: 26 June 2017 / Published: 29 June 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (858 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Deficit irrigation (DI) is an agricultural practice in which the volume of irrigation water applied during the crop cycle is below the irrigation requirements for maximum production, the aim of which is to increase irrigation water productivity. Most research on this technique has
[...] Read more.
Deficit irrigation (DI) is an agricultural practice in which the volume of irrigation water applied during the crop cycle is below the irrigation requirements for maximum production, the aim of which is to increase irrigation water productivity. Most research on this technique has focused on agronomic strategies while the economic and environmental consequences have received little attention. This study aims to shed some light on this matter and presents preliminary results regarding the implications of DI with respect to the sustainable use of water resources. The analysis is based on the DPSIR analytical framework (Driving force/Pressure/State/Impact/Response) and the microeconomics of DI. The case study focuses on intensive olive groves in the Guadalquivir river basin in Southern Spain (where olive cultivation accounts for 50% of the total irrigated area). The analysis shows that the widespread use of DI practices, which is the farmers’ response to a decreasing net water supply and falling farm incomes (driving force) in the context of a mature water economy, may help to break the DPSIR chain of causality, provided that there are restrictions on any expansion in irrigated area. They can, thus, play a role in achieving sustainable water use. Conversely, demand and supply (regulator) responses involving raising the price of water would lead to higher pressures on the resource and represent a negative driving force in our DPSIR model. Full article
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