Feature Papers of Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 37269

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Guest Editor
Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, Center for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Michigan State University, Okemos, MI, USA
Interests: water-energy-food; agriculture; food security; food systems
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This year, Water is rolling out a new section on Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture. We are marking the event with a Special Issue that will examine cutting-edge issues of food production on land (agriculture), food production in water (aquaculture) and their relationships to water resources. Focus areas include, but are not limited to, irrigation, new technologies, environmental issues, implications of climate change and transboundary issues. We are interested in in-depth treatment of any of these issues but especially encourage submission of manuscripts containing original research that addresses Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture from a systems perspective that acknowledges complexity and interactions. Comprehensive reviews are also welcome, especially those that consider poorly understood and under-appreciated aspects of the subject.

Prof. Dr. Steven G. Pueppke
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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20 pages, 5161 KiB  
Article
Informing Equitable Water and Food Policies through Accurate Spatial Information on Irrigated Areas in Smallholder Farming Systems
by James Magidi, Barbara van Koppen, Luxon Nhamo, Sylvester Mpandeli, Rob Slotow and Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi
Water 2021, 13(24), 3627; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243627 - 16 Dec 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3602
Abstract
Accurate information on irrigated areas’ spatial distribution and extent are crucial in enhancing agricultural water productivity, water resources management, and formulating strategic policies that enhance water and food security and ecologically sustainable development. However, data are typically limited for smallholder irrigated areas, which [...] Read more.
Accurate information on irrigated areas’ spatial distribution and extent are crucial in enhancing agricultural water productivity, water resources management, and formulating strategic policies that enhance water and food security and ecologically sustainable development. However, data are typically limited for smallholder irrigated areas, which is key to achieving social equity and equal distribution of financial resources. This study addressed this gap by delineating disaggregated smallholder and commercial irrigated areas through the random forest algorithm, a non-parametric machine learning classifier. Location within or outside former apartheid “homelands” was taken as a proxy for smallholder, and commercial irrigation. Being in a medium rainfall area, the huge irrigation potential of the Inkomati-Usuthu Water Management Area (UWMA) is already well developed for commercial crop production outside former homelands. However, information about the spatial distribution and extent of irrigated areas within former homelands, which is largely informal, was missing. Therefore, we first classified cultivated lands in 2019 and 2020 as a baseline, from where the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was used to distinguish irrigated from rainfed, focusing on the dry winter period when crops are predominately irrigated. The mapping accuracy of 84.9% improved the efficacy in defining the actual spatial extent of current irrigated areas at both smallholder and commercial spatial scales. The proportion of irrigated areas was high for both commercial (92.5%) and smallholder (96.2%) irrigation. Moreover, smallholder irrigation increased by over 19% between 2019 and 2020, compared to slightly over 7% in the commercial sector. Such information is critical for policy formulation regarding equitable and inclusive water allocation, irrigation expansion, land reform, and food and water security in smallholder farming systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture)
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17 pages, 4571 KiB  
Article
Avocado cv. Hass Needs Water Irrigation in Tropical Precipitation Regime: Evidence from Colombia
by Edwin Erazo-Mesa, Joaquín Guillermo Ramírez-Gil and Andrés Echeverri Sánchez
Water 2021, 13(14), 1942; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13141942 - 14 Jul 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4466
Abstract
The primary natural source of water for the Hass avocado crop in the tropics is precipitation. However, this is insufficient to provide most crops’ water requirements due to the spatial and temporal variability. This study aims to demonstrate that Hass avocado requires irrigation [...] Read more.
The primary natural source of water for the Hass avocado crop in the tropics is precipitation. However, this is insufficient to provide most crops’ water requirements due to the spatial and temporal variability. This study aims to demonstrate that Hass avocado requires irrigation in Colombia, and this is done by analyzing the dynamics of local precipitation regimes and the influence of Intertropical Convergence Zone phenomena (ITCZ) on the irrigation requirement (IR). This study was carried out in Colombia’s current and potential Hass avocado production zones (PPA) by computing and mapping the monthly IR, and classifying months found to be in deficit and excess. The influence of ITCZ on IR by performing a metric relevance analysis on weights of optimized Artificial Neural Networks was computed. The water deficit map illustrates a 99.8% of PPA requires water irrigation at least one month a year. The movement of ITCZ toward latitudes far to those where PPA is located between May to September decreases precipitation and consequently increases the IR area of Hass avocado. Water deficit visualization maps could become a novel and powerful tool for Colombian farmers when scheduling irrigation in those months and periods identified in these maps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture)
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22 pages, 5919 KiB  
Article
Evaluating Vulnerability of Central Asian Water Resources under Uncertain Climate and Development Conditions: The Case of the Ili-Balkhash Basin
by Tesse de Boer, Homero Paltan, Troy Sternberg and Kevin Wheeler
Water 2021, 13(5), 615; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050615 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 8492
Abstract
The Ili-Balkhash basin (IBB) is considered a key region for agricultural development and international transport as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The IBB is exemplary for the combined challenge of climate change and shifts in water supply and demand in [...] Read more.
The Ili-Balkhash basin (IBB) is considered a key region for agricultural development and international transport as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The IBB is exemplary for the combined challenge of climate change and shifts in water supply and demand in transboundary Central Asian closed basins. To quantify future vulnerability of the IBB to these changes, we employ a scenario-neutral bottom-up approach with a coupled hydrological-water resource modelling set-up on the RiverWare modelling platform. This study focuses on reliability of environmental flows under historical hydro-climatic variability, future hydro-climatic change and upstream water demand development. The results suggest that the IBB is historically vulnerable to environmental shortages, and any increase in water consumption will increase frequency and intensity of shortages. Increases in precipitation and temperature improve reliability of flows downstream, along with water demand reductions upstream and downstream. Of the demand scenarios assessed, extensive water saving is most robust to climate change. However, the results emphasize the competition for water resources among up- and downstream users and between sectors in the lower Ili, underlining the importance of transboundary water management to mitigate cross-border impacts. The modelling tool and outcomes may aid decision-making under the uncertain future in the basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture)
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17 pages, 1353 KiB  
Article
Does China’s Belt and Road Initiative Threaten Food Security in Central Asia?
by Troy Sternberg, Chris McCarthy and Buho Hoshino
Water 2020, 12(10), 2690; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102690 - 25 Sep 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4653
Abstract
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) needs little introduction; the infrastructure investment will reconfigure development in Central Asia. As its origin story and initial encounter, Central Asia offers a prismatic lens to delve into the vital impacts and significant changes wrought by the [...] Read more.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) needs little introduction; the infrastructure investment will reconfigure development in Central Asia. As its origin story and initial encounter, Central Asia offers a prismatic lens to delve into the vital impacts and significant changes wrought by the BRI. In the dryland region, the BRI impact on watersheds and agriculture is a critical challenge with direct implications for food security. Framed by diverse research sources, we utilized spatial datasets from the European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative and the World Bank to explore the intersection of food production, water and development. Investigation evaluates the possible trade-offs that Chinese infrastructure investment can have on the communities and environment of Central Asia. The findings identify more than 15,000 km of rail and 20,000 km of roads linked to the BRI crisscrossing the region in 2018. Whilst these transport corridors have improved connectivity, many of these rails and roads traverse important agricultural and water zones, creating undetermined risks and opportunities. Land use change was examined within a 10-km buffer around BRI roads and rails from 2008 to 2018. Railways increased by 23% during this time, yet irrigated and rainfed agriculture decreased whilst urban areas markedly expanded. Contextual research identifies how Chinese policies may encourage agribusiness investment for food exports as possible disruptions to national and regional food supply. However, to date Central Asia provides <1% of Chinese agricultural imports. In fact, Afghanistan is the region’s dominant export market, tripling agricultural imports >300% in this time. Similarly, five times more livestock are traded within the region than to China. Evaluating infrastructure change is essential to understand BRI impacts on environments and societies, with the food-water nexus a particular concern in Central Asia. Limited Chinese imports of Central Asian agriculture suggests the region’s food security will not be significantly altered by the Belt and Road Initiative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture)
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Review

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20 pages, 2139 KiB  
Review
Ancient WEF: Water–Energy–Food Nexus in the Distant Past
by Steven G. Pueppke
Water 2021, 13(7), 925; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13070925 - 28 Mar 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4552
Abstract
The concept of water–energy–food (WEF) nexus is gaining favor as a means to highlight the functions of the three individual nexus elements as interrelated components of a single complex system. In practice, the nexus approach projects forward from the present, seeking to maximize [...] Read more.
The concept of water–energy–food (WEF) nexus is gaining favor as a means to highlight the functions of the three individual nexus elements as interrelated components of a single complex system. In practice, the nexus approach projects forward from the present, seeking to maximize future WEF synergies and avoid undesirable tradeoffs. A complementary approach was employed here to gain insights into how the ancients dealt with WEF relationships, whether currently relevant nexus principles were practiced long ago, and how past WEF dynamics compare to those of today. Two examples, both dating to before the common era (BCE), are considered in detail. The qanats of ancient Persia brought groundwater to the surface and directed it to clusters of agricultural fields in arid areas where crop production was not otherwise feasible. In contrast, the Dujiangyan irrigation scheme of ancient China harnessed previously destructive surface water flows to stabilize food production across a vast agricultural plain. Designed and constructed under highly uncertain conditions and with a long-term perspective, both relied on local resources and expertise to exploit the tight coupling of water and the intrinsic energy from its flows to produce food. Ingenious infrastructure combined with sound governance allowed both to achieve remarkable synergies among the WEF components with minimal apparent tradeoffs. Although both are now challenged by climate change and the increasing complexity of modern WEF relationships, qanat systems and the Dujiangyan irrigation scheme have survived for millennia and still exist in recognizable form. This is due in large part to the persistence of governance systems that devolved significant decision-making authority to those who used water and energy for food production. Although it is not feasible to roll back technology to that of an earlier time, the successful attributes of earlier WEF governance systems warrant more attention in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture)
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24 pages, 1697 KiB  
Review
Water and Land as Shared Resources for Agriculture and Aquaculture: Insights from Asia
by Steven G. Pueppke, Sabir Nurtazin and Weixin Ou
Water 2020, 12(10), 2787; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102787 - 7 Oct 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 10457
Abstract
Although agriculture and aquaculture depend on access to increasingly scarce, shared water resources to produce food for human consumption, they are most often considered in isolation. We argue that they should be treated as integrated components of a single complex system that is [...] Read more.
Although agriculture and aquaculture depend on access to increasingly scarce, shared water resources to produce food for human consumption, they are most often considered in isolation. We argue that they should be treated as integrated components of a single complex system that is prone to direct or indirect tradeoffs that should be avoided while also being amenable to synergies that should be sought. Direct tradeoffs such as competition for space or the pollution of shared water resources usually occur when the footprints of agriculture and aquaculture overlap or when the two practices coexist in close proximity to one another. Interactions can be modulated by factors such as hydropower infrastructure and short-term economic incentives, both of which are known to disrupt the balance between aquaculture and agriculture. Indirect tradeoffs, on the other hand, play out across distances, i.e., when agricultural food sources are diverted to feed animals in aquaculture. Synergies are associated with the culture of aquatic organisms in rice paddies and irrigation waters, seasonal rotations of crop cultivation with aquaculture, and various forms of integrated agriculture–aquaculture (IAA), including jitang, a highly developed variant of pond-dike IAA. Policy decisions, socioeconomic considerations, and technology warrant increased scrutiny as determinants of tradeoffs and synergies. Priority issues for the future include guiding the expansion of aquaculture from its traditional base in Asia, taking advantage of the heterogeneity that exists within both agricultural and aquaculture systems, the development of additional metrics of tradeoffs and synergies, and adapting to the effects of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Water, Agriculture and Aquaculture)
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