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Article

An Integrated Approach to Assess the Water Efficiency of Introducing Best Management Practices: An Application to Sugarcane Mechanisation in Brazil

1
Research Center for the Management of Environmental and Agricultural Risks (CEIGRAM), Technical University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
2
Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand
3
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), 2361 Laxenburg, Austria
4
Instituto de Energia e Ambiente, University of São Paulo, São Paulo 05508-010, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Carmen Teodosiu and Ashok K. Chapagain
Water 2022, 14(7), 1072; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071072
Received: 16 December 2021 / Revised: 7 March 2022 / Accepted: 24 March 2022 / Published: 29 March 2022
Management practices reputed to be the best are being introduced widely in the agricultural sector. The identification of what these best management practices are for a given cultivation area requires thorough assessment, using indicators that reduce the risk of unintended impacts and that help manage environmental and economic trade-offs. We propose an integrated assessment that includes two indicators in water footprint sustainability assessment: water apparent productivity and ecosystem services value, thereby considering the trade-offs in the two ecosystem services of water provisioning and erosion potential. The approach was tested in Mogí-Guaçú Pardo (Brazil), a basin that has been subjected to intensive land-use changes through the expansion of sugarcane plantations. Here, regulatory changes have also promoted the introduction of the new management practice of mechanised harvesting, thereby phasing out the practice of burning the fields before manual harvest. A probabilistic approach was applied to account for uncertainty in model parameters. The results reveal that sugarcane has a comparably high economic value but is a less efficient land-use type from a water-use perspective. The total green and blue water footprint in the basin increased by 12% from 2000 to 2012, mainly due to the increase in sugarcane area (+36%). The intensification in sugarcane harvesting practices led to improved economic water-use efficiency and also lowered erosion costs. Adding the new indicators and considering trade-offs linked to new management practices and/or land-use changes allow for more robust decision making. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural management; land-use change; water apparent productivity; economic efficiency; ecosystem services; water footprint; sugarcane; Brazil agricultural management; land-use change; water apparent productivity; economic efficiency; ecosystem services; water footprint; sugarcane; Brazil
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chico, D.; Pahlow, M.; Willaarts, B.A.; Sinisgalli, P.; Garrido, A. An Integrated Approach to Assess the Water Efficiency of Introducing Best Management Practices: An Application to Sugarcane Mechanisation in Brazil. Water 2022, 14, 1072. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071072

AMA Style

Chico D, Pahlow M, Willaarts BA, Sinisgalli P, Garrido A. An Integrated Approach to Assess the Water Efficiency of Introducing Best Management Practices: An Application to Sugarcane Mechanisation in Brazil. Water. 2022; 14(7):1072. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071072

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chico, Daniel, Markus Pahlow, Bárbara A. Willaarts, Paulo Sinisgalli, and Alberto Garrido. 2022. "An Integrated Approach to Assess the Water Efficiency of Introducing Best Management Practices: An Application to Sugarcane Mechanisation in Brazil" Water 14, no. 7: 1072. https://doi.org/10.3390/w14071072

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