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Open AccessArticle

Variability in the Water Footprint of Arable Crop Production across European Regions

Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), 2400 Mol, Belgium
Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), 15374 Müncheberg, Germany
Institute of Meteorology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, 1180 Vienna, Austria
Global Change Research Institute, The Czech Academy of Sciences, 61300 Brno, Czech Republic
Department of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology, Mendel University in Brno, 61300 Brno, Czech Republic
National Agricultural and Food Centre, Soil Science and Conservation Research Institute, Bratislava 82713, Slovakia
Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra), 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e L’analisi Dell’economia Agraria, Unità di Ricerca per i Sistemi Colturali degli Ambienti Caldo-Aridi, 70125 Bari, Italy
Department of Agrifood Production and Environmental Sciences (DISPAA), University of Florence, 50155 Florence, Italy
Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), 1431 Ås, Norway
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad 21000, Serbia
Earth Science Institute of Slovak Academy of Science, Bratislava 84005, Slovakia
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), 31600 Jokioinen, Finland
Estonian Crop Research Institute, Tallinn Technical University, Jõgeva 48309, Estonia
Department of Meteorology, Faculty of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Istanbul Technical University, 34469 Istanbul, Turkey
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade, Zemun-Belgrade 11080, Serbia
Meteorological and Hydrological Service, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
Energy, Environment & Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia 2121, Cyprus
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ashok K. Chapagain
Water 2017, 9(2), 93;
Received: 24 October 2016 / Revised: 11 December 2016 / Accepted: 31 January 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprint Assessment)
Crop growth and yield are affected by water use during the season: the green water footprint (WF) accounts for rain water, the blue WF for irrigation and the grey WF for diluting agri-chemicals. We calibrated crop yield for FAO’s water balance model “Aquacrop” at field level. We collected weather, soil and crop inputs for 45 locations for the period 1992–2012. Calibrated model runs were conducted for wheat, barley, grain maize, oilseed rape, potato and sugar beet. The WF of cereals could be up to 20 times larger than the WF of tuber and root crops; the largest share was attributed to the green WF. The green and blue WF compared favourably with global benchmark values (R2 = 0.64–0.80; d = 0.91–0.95). The variability in the WF of arable crops across different regions in Europe is mainly due to variability in crop yield ( c v ¯ = 45%) and to a lesser extent to variability in crop water use ( c v ¯ = 21%). The WF variability between countries ( c v ¯ = 14%) is lower than the variability between seasons ( c v ¯ = 22%) and between crops ( c v ¯ = 46%). Though modelled yields increased up to 50% under sprinkler irrigation, the water footprint still increased between 1% and 25%. Confronted with drainage and runoff, the grey WF tended to overestimate the contribution of nitrogen to the surface and groundwater. The results showed that the water footprint provides a measurable indicator that may support European water governance. View Full-Text
Keywords: water footprint; arable crops; cereals; Europe; crop water use; yield water footprint; arable crops; cereals; Europe; crop water use; yield
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Gobin, A.; Kersebaum, K.C.; Eitzinger, J.; Trnka, M.; Hlavinka, P.; Takáč, J.; Kroes, J.; Ventrella, D.; Marta, A.D.; Deelstra, J.; Lalić, B.; Nejedlik, P.; Orlandini, S.; Peltonen-Sainio, P.; Rajala, A.; Saue, T.; Şaylan, L.; Stričevic, R.; Vučetić, V.; Zoumides, C. Variability in the Water Footprint of Arable Crop Production across European Regions. Water 2017, 9, 93.

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