Special Issue "Sustainable Irrigation System"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Juan Reca
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering, Universidad de Almeria, Almeria 04120, Spain
Interests: Irrigation; Drip Irrigation Systems; Water Distribution Networks; Agricultural Water Management; PV irrigation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

World population has increased rapidly in the last decades and the need for more agricultural products to feed this growing population is a paramount challenge. Irrigated agriculture plays a very important role in securing food due to its higher productivity. That is why irrigated agriculture has expanded throughout the world. Today, there are more than 275 million hectares of irrigated land. This area is about 18% of the total cultivated area, but it provides approximately 40% of the global food production (FAO). Despite its importance, irrigated agriculture is seriously threatened in many areas of the world. The high environmental impacts of the irrigation are also a major concern.

One of the most important threats that the irrigated agriculture has to face is the growing scarcity of the water resources devoted to irrigation. The problem is not only limited to the water quantity, but also to its quality. The increasing salinization of the groundwater in many irrigated areas of the world is another consequence of the poor irrigation water management that generates excessive return flows with a high salinity. The growing effect of the climate change is making things even worse and jeopardizing the sustainability of the irrigation systems in the near future.

The development of more accurate irrigation scheduling methods and the expansion of efficient irrigation management practices are required measures intended to reduce the water consumption of the irrigation systems and to avoid water losses by runoff or deep percolation that may cause the contamination of the aquifers due to nitrates or pesticides. Promising cutting-edge technology, such as new climate, soil and plant sensors, advanced wireless comunications, Information and Communication Techniques (ICTs), artificial intelligence (IA) and Internet of Things (IoT), are being successfully implemented to improve irrigation scheduling and management.

In addition to the measures focused on reducing the water consumption in irrigation, it is also necessary to increase the quantity of the water resources. The use of non-conventional water resources, such as desalinated seawater or regenerated wastewater is a measure that is being implemented nowdays in many threatened irrigation districts.

The contribution of the irrigated agriculture to the climate change and the global warming is another serious concern. The energy consumption in the irrigation districts has increased drastically in recent years. This is a consequence of the modernization of the traditional surface irrigation systems and their transformation to pressurized systems with the aim of reducing water losses. The rise in the energy consumption poses an economical and environmental threat to the irrigation systems. The use of techniques aiming to reduce the energy consumption are highly required. Among these techniques, the use of renewable sources of energy seems to be an appropriate solution to reduce the dependence of the irrigation districts on the fuel fossils and to diminish the emission of greenhouse gasses. The use of PV irrigation systems is an active field of research nowadays. 

The studies of this Special Issue are expected to address the following topics:

  • Efficient and accurate irrigation scheduling methods that may contribute to the reduction of the water consumption and groundwater contamination. New cutting-edge methods applied to the irrigation management.
  • Design and management of irrigation systems for an improved efficiency, both at farm and irrigation district scale.  Assessment of the irrigation efficiency and productivity in irrigation districts.
  • Evaluation of the Nonpoint source pollution caused by the irrigated agriculture. Methods and policies to reduce its environmental impact.
  • Water resources planning studies intended to cope with the scarcity and poor quality devoted to irrigation.
  • Studies focused on encouraging the use of desalinated or regenerated water in agriculture
  • Evaluation of the energy consumption of the irrigated agriculture and design and management of irrigation system that make use of renewable sources of energy.
  • Evaluation of the impact of climate change on irrigated agriculture, methods and policies to cope with the problems caused by the climate change.

Dr. Juan Reca
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Irrigation scheduling and management
  • Efficiency of the irrigation water use
  • Irrigation sustainability, Irrigation environmental impacts
  • Efficiency of the energy use in irrigation
  • Conventional and non-conventional water resources

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Aerated Irrigation of Different Irrigation Levels and Subsurface Dripper Depths Affects Fruit Yield, Quality and Water Use Efficiency of Greenhouse Tomato
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2703; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072703 - 30 Mar 2020
Abstract
Aerated irrigation (AI) is a method to mitigate rhizosphere hypoxia caused by the wetting front from subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). This study evaluated the impacts of AI on soil aeration, plant growth performance, fruit yield (tomato), irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE), fruit nutrition [...] Read more.
Aerated irrigation (AI) is a method to mitigate rhizosphere hypoxia caused by the wetting front from subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). This study evaluated the impacts of AI on soil aeration, plant growth performance, fruit yield (tomato), irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE), fruit nutrition (lycopene and Vitamin C (VC)) and taste (soluble sugar, organic acid and sugar–acid ratio) quality. A three-factorial experiment including AI and SDI at three irrigation levels (W0.6, W0.8 and W1.0, corresponding with crop-pan coefficients of 0.6, 0.8 and 1.0) and two dripper depths (D15 and D25, burial at 15 and 25 cm, respectively), totaling 12 treatments overall, was conducted in a greenhouse during the tomato-growing season (April–July) in 2016. The AI improved soil aeration conditions, with significantly increased soil oxygen concentration and air-filled porosity relative to SDI. Moreover, the AI improved crop growth performance, with increased root morphology (diameter, length density, surface area and volume density), delayed flowering time, prolonged flowering duration and increased shoot (leaf, stem and fruit) dry weight, and harvest index. Fruit yield per plant, fruit weight, IWUE, the contents of lycopene, VC and soluble sugar, and sugar–acid ratio significantly increased under AI treatments (P < 0.05). As the irrigation level increased, fruit yield, number, and weight increased (P < 0.05), but IWUE and fruit lycopene, soluble sugar, and organic acid content decreased (P < 0.05). The dripper depth had no significant impact on fruit yield, nutrition and taste quality. Principal component analysis revealed that the optimal three treatments in terms of fruit yield, IWUE, and nutrition and taste quality were the treatments W0.6D25AI, W1.0D25AI and W1.0D15AI. These results suggest that AI can improve tomato growth performance and increase fruit yield, nutrition and taste quality, and IWUE through enhancing soil aeration conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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Open AccessArticle
The Design and Application of Non-Pressure Infiltrating Irrigation in Desertification Control
Sustainability 2020, 12(4), 1547; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12041547 - 19 Feb 2020
Abstract
The key restriction factor of desertification is water control. Non-pressure infiltrating irrigation was invented aimed at the efficient use of water, and its core technology is the key water-conducting material prepared by montmorillonite and polyacrylamide. In this study, both the water absorption and [...] Read more.
The key restriction factor of desertification is water control. Non-pressure infiltrating irrigation was invented aimed at the efficient use of water, and its core technology is the key water-conducting material prepared by montmorillonite and polyacrylamide. In this study, both the water absorption and desorption performances of the key material were tested, and then the binding condition of the water-conducting materials and the fiber substrate was also studied. Lastly, the water infiltrating performances and its application in deserts were tested. Non-pressure infiltrating irrigation could self-regulate the water conducting speed according to the external soil deserticola, but also significantly reduce water consumption. The results provide a reference for the application of this new water-saving irrigation technology, which could play an important role in desertification control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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Open AccessArticle
Growth, Yield, and Water Productivity Responses of Pepper to Sub-Irrigated Planter Systems in a Greenhouse
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1100; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031100 - 04 Feb 2020
Abstract
A sub-irrigated planter (SIP) is a container irrigation technique in which water is supplied to the crop from the bottom, stored in a saturated media-filled reservoir beneath an unsaturated soil, and then delivered by capillary action to the root zone. The aim of [...] Read more.
A sub-irrigated planter (SIP) is a container irrigation technique in which water is supplied to the crop from the bottom, stored in a saturated media-filled reservoir beneath an unsaturated soil, and then delivered by capillary action to the root zone. The aim of this study was to optimize the water management and to assess the performance of this technique in terms of water use efficiency, soil moisture, and solute distribution in comparison with surface irrigation in a Mediterranean greenhouse. The experiment consisted of four SIP treatments, with a constant water level in the bottom reservoir in order to evaluate the effect of two different irrigation salinities (1.2 and 2.2 dS m−1) and two depths of substrate profiles (25 and 15 cm). The results showed that SIP is capable of significantly improving both water-use efficiency and plant productivity compared with surface irrigation. Also, a 24% average reduction in water consumption was observed while using SIP. Moreover, SIPs with a higher depth were recommended as the optimum treatments within SIPs. The type of irrigation method affected the salinity distribution in the substrate profile; the highest salinity levels were registered at the top layers in SIPs, whereas the maximum salinity levels for the surface treatments were observed at the bottom layers. SIPs provide a practical solution for the irrigation of plants in areas facing water quality and scarcity problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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Open AccessArticle
Multistage Bounded Evolutionary Algorithm to Optimize the Design of Sustainable Photovoltaic (PV) Pumping Irrigation Systems with Storage
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1026; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031026 - 31 Jan 2020
Abstract
Small off-grid photovoltaic (PV) pumping irrigation systems with storage tanks are an environmentally friendly, cost effective and efficient way of taking advantage of solar energy to irrigate crops, and they are increasingly being used today. However, finding the optimal design of this type [...] Read more.
Small off-grid photovoltaic (PV) pumping irrigation systems with storage tanks are an environmentally friendly, cost effective and efficient way of taking advantage of solar energy to irrigate crops, and they are increasingly being used today. However, finding the optimal design of this type of system is cumbersome since there are many possible designs. In this work, a new heuristic method based on the hybrid approach, which uses search space reduction, is developed and adapted to the optimal design for this type of PV irrigation system. At different stages, the proposed approach iteratively combines a bounding strategy based on the application of engineering rules with the aim of reducing the search space with a genetic algorithm to find the optimal design within this search space. The proposed methodology was applied to minimize the cost of a benchmark case study consisting of a real farm placed in the province of Almería (Spain). The proposed methodology was able to provide a faster and an accurate convergence due to the reduction of the search space. This fact led to a reduced total cost of the system. This study proved that the most sensitive variables were the number of modules and the type of pump, whereas the diameter of the pipe and volume of the storage tank remained more stable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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Open AccessArticle
Environmental and Management Considerations for Adopting the Halophyte Salicornia bigelovii Torr. as a Sustainable Seawater-Irrigated Crop.
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 707; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020707 - 18 Jan 2020
Abstract
Salicornia bigelovii Torr. is a potential new crop for coastal and saline lands, because of the oil content of its seeds, its properties as fresh vegetable, forage, and other uses. As a true halophyte, it can grow with seawater irrigation. The aim of [...] Read more.
Salicornia bigelovii Torr. is a potential new crop for coastal and saline lands, because of the oil content of its seeds, its properties as fresh vegetable, forage, and other uses. As a true halophyte, it can grow with seawater irrigation. The aim of this study was to determine the phenology and water requirements of Salicornia as a new plant resource in growing areas for salt-tolerant crops in coastal and saline lands, and elucidate scenarios of sustainability about these issues. Water requirements were estimated in experimental plots on the coastal line and fulfilled with drip irrigation connected to seawater aquaculture discharge ponds, 30 m from the sea. The recorded phenological events were germination, flowering, fructification, maturation, and physiological death. Results reflect the difficulty to adopt it as a new crop because of its long-life cycle, around nine months, contrasting with the life cycle of common crops, from three to four months. Irrigation needs reached a depth of 240 cm, significantly exceeding those of conventional crops. Such limitations are highlighted, but also its potential use as a biofilter of coastal aquaculture effluents, being a productive target-biomass, feasible to be used as a dual-purpose use of water and energy required in aquaculture farms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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Open AccessArticle
Success Factors of Irrigation Projects Based on A "Public–Private Partnership" Model in A Mountainous Area: A Case Study in the Nujiang River Valley, China
Sustainability 2019, 11(23), 6799; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11236799 - 30 Nov 2019
Abstract
Irrigation systems are critical for food security and drought adaptation in mountainous areas. However, lack of funding and low efficacy of government-funded irrigation projects hinders irrigation infrastructure development. A public–private partnership (PPP) model is recommended for irrigation development, but its application in mountainous [...] Read more.
Irrigation systems are critical for food security and drought adaptation in mountainous areas. However, lack of funding and low efficacy of government-funded irrigation projects hinders irrigation infrastructure development. A public–private partnership (PPP) model is recommended for irrigation development, but its application in mountainous areas has not been well-documented and analyzed. Based on a case study of pumping station projects in the Lujiang Flatland in the Nujiang River Valley of Southwestern China, this paper aims to reveal the critical success factors of the PPP model in the development of agricultural irrigation infrastructure in mountainous areas. Results showed that the basic models of PPP projects in the study area can be described as follows: (1) private companies invested in and constructed pumping stations; (2) communities operated the stations; (3) farmers paid for the services; and (4) private companies profited from charging water fees, obtaining policy supports, or utilizing farmlands. The main success factors include: (1) rational project design according to local conditions; (2) multi-centered management mechanisms; (3) balanced cost- and risk-sharing mechanisms; and (4) building mutual trusts among stakeholders. This study offers applicable lessons and useful insights for irrigation water development projects and adaptation to drought in mountainous rural communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating the Sustainable Use of Saline Water Irrigation on Soil Water-Salt Content and Grain Yield under Subsurface Drainage Condition
Sustainability 2019, 11(22), 6431; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11226431 - 15 Nov 2019
Abstract
A sustainable irrigation system is known to improve the farmland soil water-salt environment and increase crop yields. However, the sustainable use of saline irrigation water under proper drainage measures still needs further study. In this study, a two-year experiment was performed to assess [...] Read more.
A sustainable irrigation system is known to improve the farmland soil water-salt environment and increase crop yields. However, the sustainable use of saline irrigation water under proper drainage measures still needs further study. In this study, a two-year experiment was performed to assess the sustainable effects of saline water irrigation under subsurface drainage condition. A coupled model consisting of the HYDRUS-2D model and EPIC module was used to investigate the effects of irrigation water salinity (IWS) and subsurface drainage depth (SDD) on soil water-salt content and summer maize yield when saline water was adopted for irrigation under different subsurface drainage measures. Summer maize in the two-year experiments were irrigated with saline water of three different salinity levels (0.78, 3.75, and 6.25 dS m−1) under three different drainage conditions (no subsurface drainage, drain depth of 80 cm, and drain depth of 120 cm). The field observed data such as soil water content, soil salinity within root zone, ET and grain yield in 2016 and 2017 were used for calibration and validation, respectively. The calibration and validation results indicated that there was good correlation between the field measured data and the HYDRUS-EPIC model simulated data, where RMSE, NSE (> 0.50), and R2 (> 0.70) satisfied the requirements of model accuracy. Based on a seven × seven (IWS × SDD) scenario simulation, the effects of IWS and SDD on summer maize relative grain yield and water use efficiency (WUE) were evaluated in the form of a contour map; the relative grain yield and WUE obtained peak values when drain depth was around 100 cm, where the relative yield of summer maize was about 0.82 and 0.53 at IWS of 8 and 12 dS m−1, and the mean WUE was 1.66 kg m−3. The proper IWS under subsurface drainage systems was also optimized by the scenario simulation results; the summer maize relative yield was still about 0.80 even when the IWS was as high as 8.61 dS m−1. In summary, subsurface drainage measures may provide important support for the sustainable utilization of saline water in irrigation. Moreover, the coupled HYDRUS-EPIC model should be a beneficial tool to evaluate future sustainability of the irrigation system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Irrigating with Brackish Water on Soil Moisture, Soil Salinity, and the Agronomic Response of Winter Wheat in the Yellow River Delta
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5801; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205801 - 18 Oct 2019
Abstract
Water shortages due to low precipitation and seawater intrusion in the Lower China Yellow River Delta have occurred in recent years. Exploiting underground brackish water through well drilling is a potential alternative way to satisfy the demand for agricultural irrigation. However, how to [...] Read more.
Water shortages due to low precipitation and seawater intrusion in the Lower China Yellow River Delta have occurred in recent years. Exploiting underground brackish water through well drilling is a potential alternative way to satisfy the demand for agricultural irrigation. However, how to successfully use brackish water for irrigation has become a new problem to solve. A two-year field experiment was conducted in this typical saline-alkaline region to investigate the effects of irrigating with brackish water on the soil water-salt dynamics, and the physiological response of winter wheat to drought-salt stress. The experiment was laid out in a randomized block design with three replications according to the quantity (160 mm and 240 mm) and quality (fresh water and brackish water with a salt concentration of 3 g L−1) of irrigation water: T1 was 240 mm of fresh water, T2 was 160 mm of fresh water, T3 was 80 mm of fresh water and 160 mm of brackish water, and T4 was 80 mm of fresh water and 80 mm of brackish water. The results showed that the soil moisture of T3 was almost the same as T1 after the harvest of winter wheat each year, therefore, irrigating with brackish water can maintain soil moisture while saving fresh water resources. After two years, the soil salinity of each treatment increased by 0.307, 0.406, 0.383, and 0.889 g kg−1, respectively. During the jointing-flowering stage, salt stress has a significant inhibitory effect on photosynthesis; T3 and T4 were lower than T1 and T2 in terms of plant height and dry weight. During the filling stage, because the effect of drought stress is more serious than that of salt stress, the photosynthesis of T3 was greater than that of T2 and T4. For both years, the yield of crops followed the rank order T1 > T3 > T2 > T4. Compared with irrigating with fresh water in T1, T3 changed the second and third irrigation into brackish water, however we did not find that soil salinity increased significantly, and this treatment was able to ensure crop growth during the filling stage. Therefore, the combination of fresh water (80 mm), then brackish water (80 mm), then brackish water (80 mm) is a feasible irrigation strategy in China’s Yellow River Delta for winter wheat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Irrigation Management of Ornamental Cordyline Fruticosa “Red Edge” Plants with Saline Water
Sustainability 2019, 11(13), 3751; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133751 - 09 Jul 2019
Abstract
The aim of this work was to analyze the influence of the salinity of the nutrient solution on the transpiration and growth of Cordyline fruticosa var. “Red Edge” plants. A specific irrigation management model was calibrated with the experimental data. An experiment was [...] Read more.
The aim of this work was to analyze the influence of the salinity of the nutrient solution on the transpiration and growth of Cordyline fruticosa var. “Red Edge” plants. A specific irrigation management model was calibrated with the experimental data. An experiment was performed with four treatments. These treatments consisted of the application of four nutrient solutions with different electrical conductivity (ECw) levels ranging from 1.5 dS m−1 (control treatment) to 4.5 dS m−1. The results showed that day-time transpiration decreases when salt concentration in the nutrient solution increases. The transpiration of the plant in the control treatment was modelled by applying a combination method while the effect of the salinity of the nutrient solution was modelled by deriving a saline stress coefficient from the experimental data. The results showed that significant reductions in plant transpiration were observed for increasing values of ECw. The crop development and yield were also affected by the increasing salinity of the nutrient solution. A relationship between the ECw and the relative crop yield was derived. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Irrigation System)
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