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Assessment of Agricultural Water Resources Sustainability in Arid Regions Using Virtual Water Concept: Case of South Khorasan Province, Iran

1
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, 9177948974 Mashhad, Iran
2
Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Water Resources Section, Delft University of Technology, Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN Delft, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(3), 449; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030449
Received: 30 December 2018 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 22 February 2019 / Published: 3 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Water Resources Management and Governance)
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Abstract

Cropping pattern plays an important role in providing food and agricultural water resources sustainability, especially in arid regions in which the concomitant socioeconomic dangers of water shortage would be inevitable. In this research, six indices are applied to classify 37 cultivated crops according to Central Product Classification (CPC). The respective 10-year data (2005–2014) were obtained from Agricultural Organization of South Khorasan (AOSKh) province. The water footprint concept along with some economic indicators are used to assess the water use efficiency. Results show that blue virtual water contributes to almost 99 percent of Total Virtual Water (TVW). In this occasion that an increasing pressure is exerted on groundwater resources, improper pattern of planting crops has to be beyond reproach. The improper cropping pattern in the study area led to the overuse of 346 × 106 m3 of water annually. More specifically, cereals cultivation was neither environmentally nor economically sustainable and since they accounted for the largest share of water usage at the province level, importing them should be considered as an urgent priority. Vegetable cultivation could be further increased—instead of other water-intensive crops such as fruits—at the province level, not only due to their low TVW, but also to their higher financial output. View Full-Text
Keywords: water footprint; water use efficiency; virtual water trade; water self-sufficiency; sustainability; arid regions water footprint; water use efficiency; virtual water trade; water self-sufficiency; sustainability; arid regions
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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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Qasemipour, E.; Abbasi, A. Assessment of Agricultural Water Resources Sustainability in Arid Regions Using Virtual Water Concept: Case of South Khorasan Province, Iran. Water 2019, 11, 449.

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