Water scarcity in Spain is partly due to poor management of this resource in the agricultural sector. The main aim of this study is to present the major factors related to water usage efficiency in farming. It focuses on the Almería coast, southeast Spain, which is one of the most arid areas of the country, and in particular, on family farms as the main direct managers of water use in this zone. Many of these farms are among the most water efficient in Spanish agriculture but this efficiency is not generalized throughout the sector. This work conducts a comprehensive assessment of water performance in this area, using on-farm water-use, structural, socio-economic, and environmental information. Two statistical techniques are used: descriptive analysis and cluster analysis. Thus, two groups are identified: farms that are less and farms that are more efficient regarding water usage. By analyzing both the common characteristics within each group and the differences between the groups with a one-way ANOVA analysis, several conclusions can be reached. The main differences between the two clusters center on the extent to which innovation and new technologies are used in irrigation. The most water efficient farms are characterized by more educated farmers, a greater degree of innovation, new irrigation technology, and an awareness of water issues and environmental sustainability. The findings of this study can be extended to farms in similar arid and semi-arid areas and contribute to fostering appropriate policies to improve the efficiency of water usage in the agricultural sector.
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