Special Issue "Sustainable Irrigation for the Future: Addressing the Challenges to Improved Water Use Efficiency"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2018)
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
Manuscript Submission Information
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- sustainable irrigation
- water quatity
- water quality
- water use efficiency
- soil moisture
- precision agriculture
- climate change