Special Issue "Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Surya P. Bhattarai
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Future Farming Systems, Central Queensland University, Australia
Interests: agronomy; crop physiology; crop drought tolerance; agricultural water management; water use efficiency; aeration of irrigation water

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Irrigated cropping covers 346 million ha, representing 20% of global agricultural land, contributing 40% of the world’s food production. In 2010, globally, 1500 km3 of water was used for irrigation but 2700 km3 was withdrawn for this purpose, resulting in an irrigation efficiency (IE) of only 56%. Currently, 70% of the global freshwater supply is diverted for irrigation, with little opportunity for sourcing additional water in the future. Therefore, it is imperative that water use efficiency (WUE) of irrigated cropping be improved to meet the projected doubling of food production by 2050, required to feed an estimated nine billion people.

Growing competition and increasing scarcity for fresh water pose challenges to agricultural industries to improve WUE and reduce the environmental footprints of irrigation. Moreover, with climate change predictions, with increases in temperatures and frequent episodes of weather anomalies, irrigation is crucial for adapting agriculture to a changing climate. In response to these challenges, wide range of research efforts have been carried on various aspects of crop WUE. A Special Issue of Water, “Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency” aims to bring scattered research from different disciplines into a single volume so that a holistic understanding and application of WUE research is made available to a diverse audience.  

Improving WUE requires an interdisciplinary approach, involving irrigation and drainage engineering, agronomy, breeding, soil science, crop nutrition and a wide range of applied irrigation sciences plus environmental, socio-economic, geopolitical and cultural aspects relevant to irrigation. We solicit papers from different disciplines that contribute to the enhancement of crop WUE at different scales of plant production (leaf to landscape level), required to make meaningful gains in improving water productivity at a global scale. We believe the inclusion of such a wide range of interdisciplinary research and review papers will be instrumental in guiding the future for meaningful improvements in agricultural WUE globally. We encourage your contributions and looking forward to your submissions.

Dr. Surya P. Bhattarai
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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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 2000 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.

Keywords

  • Irrigation
  • rainfed crop
  • drought tolerance
  • crop water productivity
  • agricultural water management
  • evapo-transpiration
  • recycled water
  • run-off
  • deep drainage

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Water Footprint for Pulse, Cereal, and Oilseed Crops in Saskatchewan, Canada
Water 2018, 10(11), 1609; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10111609 - 09 Nov 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1655
Abstract
The water footprint (WF) of crop production is a friendly approach for the analysis of water resource consumption in agricultural production systems. This study assessed the inter-annual variability of the total WF of three types of main crops, namely, cereal (i.e., spring wheat [...] Read more.
The water footprint (WF) of crop production is a friendly approach for the analysis of water resource consumption in agricultural production systems. This study assessed the inter-annual variability of the total WF of three types of main crops, namely, cereal (i.e., spring wheat and barley), oilseed (i.e., canola and sunflower) and pulse (i.e., lentils and chickpea), from the perspective of yield and protein. It also determined the major factors that influence the WFs in Saskatchewan province of Canada. Over the period of 1965–2014, the annual precipitation in Saskatchewan fluctuated considerably but increased slightly with time. The grain yield-based WF ranged between 1.08 and 1.80, 0.90 and 1.38, 1.71 and 2.58, 1.94 and 4.28, 1.47 and 2.37, and 1.39 and 1.79 m3 kg−1; whereas the protein yield-based WF ranged between 7.69 and 10.44, 8.27 and 16.47, 3.79 and 7.75, 4.86 and 11.17, 5.09 and 7.42, and 5.51 and 10.69 m3 kg−1 for spring wheat, barley, canola, sunflower, lentils, and chickpea, respectively. All the WFs of crops generally decreased with time, which could be attributed to precipitation factors. In addition, the scientific and technological progress and agricultural inputs also evidently influenced the grain yield-based WFs of all crops. Pulse crops had a higher grain yield-based WF (an average of 1.59 m3 kg−1 for pulse crops and 1.18 m3 kg−1 for cereal crops) but a lower protein yield-based WF (an average of 6.58 m3 kg−1 for pulse crops and 9.25 m3 kg−1 for cereal crops) than cereal crops. Under conditions of improved protein consumption and healthy living in the future, pulse crops may be a preferred crop. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Article
Estimating Changes in the Green Water Productivity of Cropping Systems in Northern Shaanxi Province in China’s Loess Plateau
Water 2018, 10(9), 1198; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10091198 - 06 Sep 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1374
Abstract
Water shortages limit agricultural production in the world’s arid and semi-arid regions. The Northern region of China’s Shaanxi Province, in the Loess Plateau, is a good example. Raising the water productivity of rainfed grain production in this region is essential to increase food [...] Read more.
Water shortages limit agricultural production in the world’s arid and semi-arid regions. The Northern region of China’s Shaanxi Province, in the Loess Plateau, is a good example. Raising the water productivity of rainfed grain production in this region is essential to increase food production and reduce poverty, thereby improving food security. To support efforts to increase crop water productivity (CWP), we accounted for limitations of most existing studies (experimental studies of specific crops or hydrological modeling approaches) by using actual field data derived from statistical reports of cropping patterns. We estimated the CWPs of nine primary crops grown in four counties in Northern Shaanxi from 1994 to 2008 by combining statistics on the cultivated area and yields with detailed estimates of evapotranspiration based on daily meteorological data. We further calculated both the caloric CWP of water (CCWP) and the CWP of productive water (i.e., water used for transpiration). We found that regional CWP averaged 6.333 kg mm–1 ha–1, the CCWP was 17,683.81 cal mm–1 ha–1, the CWP of productive green water was 8.837 kg mm–1 ha–1, and the CCWP of productive green water was 24,769.07 cal mm–1 ha–1. Corn, sorghum, and buckwheat had the highest CWP, and although potatoes had the largest planted area and relatively high CWP, they had a low CCWP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Article
Numerical Simulation of Gate Control for Unsteady Irrigation Flow to Improve Water Use Efficiency in Farming
Water 2018, 10(9), 1196; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10091196 - 05 Sep 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1219
Abstract
In the case of irrigation, to implement the water distribution plan, the flow needs to be changed through the gate which leads to the occurrence of unavoidable unsteady flow. In order to improve the level of irrigation management, it is necessary to understand [...] Read more.
In the case of irrigation, to implement the water distribution plan, the flow needs to be changed through the gate which leads to the occurrence of unavoidable unsteady flow. In order to improve the level of irrigation management, it is necessary to understand the changes taking place in the canal water flow during the process of water distribution. The de Saint-Venant equations were solved based on the method of characteristics and a model was built to simulate the unsteady flow in the channel of the Yintang irrigation district. Then, the obtained results were validated by the employed model. On the basis of simulation results, a model for the variations in the gate opening was established based on the theory of under-gate discharge. In this study, the simulation results, as established from the model, are very consistent with the simulation results of existing commercial software and a simple design for the operation was conducted from the adjustment of gate openings and multi-stage gate operation modes. Overall, the established gate control model built in this study is reliable, which provides a basis for the decision-making process for the relevant staff. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Article
Low Water Productivity for Rice in Bihar, India—A Critical Analysis
Water 2018, 10(8), 1082; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10081082 - 14 Aug 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2282
Abstract
Rice is the most important crop for food security and livelihoods of the rural population in Bihar, India. In spite of good soil and water resources, rice water productivity (WP) is very low in Bihar. Trends in WP and key factors influencing WP [...] Read more.
Rice is the most important crop for food security and livelihoods of the rural population in Bihar, India. In spite of good soil and water resources, rice water productivity (WP) is very low in Bihar. Trends in WP and key factors influencing WP over 20 years (1991–2010) in 11 Bihar districts were analysed using panel data to help elucidate reasons for low WP values. The annual average rice yield of 938 kg/ha, WP of 0.22 kg/m3, and marginal physical productivity (MPP) of 249 g/m3 are very low in Bihar compared to both the national average for India and other rice growing areas in the world. Rice WP and MPP were higher for the garma (dry) season than for the kharif (monsoon) season. Temporal analysis showed that WP was slowly declining in most districts, while spatial analysis showed a significant variation in WP across the districts. Regression analysis showed that the availability of irrigation facilities, occurrence of flood and drought, and cropping intensity had significant influence on rice WP. Causes for temporal and spatial changes in WP are highlighted and actions to improve rice WP in Bihar are suggested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Article
Evaluation of AquaCrop Model for Foxtail Millet (Setaria italica) Growth and Water Use with Plastic Film Mulching and No Mulching under Different Weather Conditions
Water 2018, 10(7), 836; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10070836 - 23 Jun 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1532
Abstract
The water-driven AquaCrop model is used extensively for simulating crop growth and water use. A three-year field experiment (2015–2017) of foxtail millet (Setaria italica) that was grown using plastic film mulching (PM) and no mulching (NM) was conducted in a rain-fed [...] Read more.
The water-driven AquaCrop model is used extensively for simulating crop growth and water use. A three-year field experiment (2015–2017) of foxtail millet (Setaria italica) that was grown using plastic film mulching (PM) and no mulching (NM) was conducted in a rain-fed region of China to simulate canopy cover (CC), biomass, soil water content (SWC), yield, evapotranspiration (ETc), and water use efficiency (WUE). The year 2015 was much drier and warmer than the two other years. The model was calibrated using field data from 2016 and validated using the data from 2015 and 2017. Simulations of CC, biomass, and yield achieved favorable performance for both PM and NM in all years, as indicated by the high determination coefficient (R2), model efficiency (EF), small root mean square error (RMSE), normalized root mean square error (NRMSE), and deviations < 10%. Simulations of SWC, ETc, and WUE gave acceptable results for both PM and NM in the normal year (2017). However, low R2 and EF, and large NRMSE, RMSE, and deviations were observed in the predictions of PM and NM for SWC, ETc, and WUE in the dry year (2015) with a severe drought stress, indicating that the model performed unsatisfactorily under severe drought stress condition that was caused by the adverse weather. In addition, the simulation performance of NM was more favorable than that of PM for most crop growth and water use indexes under no drought stress condition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Article
Precision Irrigation Scheduling Using ECH2O Moisture Sensors for Lettuce Cultivated in a Soilless Substrate Culture
Water 2018, 10(5), 549; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10050549 - 25 Apr 2018
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1828
Abstract
Soilless culture has become an effective technique to avoid continuous cropping obstacles in protected horticulture. The reliable measurement of substrate moisture and a rational irrigation are difficult tasks because of the low water-holding capacity of the substrate. Our objectives were to study the [...] Read more.
Soilless culture has become an effective technique to avoid continuous cropping obstacles in protected horticulture. The reliable measurement of substrate moisture and a rational irrigation are difficult tasks because of the low water-holding capacity of the substrate. Our objectives were to study the irrigation scheduling based on the ECH2O moisture sensor(EC-5), using a matched model of wetting pattern and lettuce root zone in the substrate under drip irrigation. The EC-5 sensor was designed to connect to a controller, and a threshold value of 0.14 cm3/cm3 was set for irrigation scheduling. The controller turned on the irrigation system via communication with a solenoid valve on the irrigation line and with the EC-5 sensor in response to a threshold value and stopped when the overlap area of the wetting pattern and crop root zone was more than 90%. The EC-5 sensors were installed at a horizontal distance from each plant and depth of 3 and 4 cm, respectively, under the substrate surface to the check substrate moisture for lettuce cultivation, and at (3,15) cm or (6,15) cm to monitor leakage. These parameters were determined by simultaneously considering the distance from the plants, the depths of effective root water extraction, and the region of substrate wetted volume under drip irrigation. Leakage occurred during each irrigation process, but the leakage ratewas15.7% lower than that of conventional irrigation, as a result of irrigation scheduling in the presence of the EC-5 sensors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Article
Effects of Partial Root-Zone Irrigation on the Water Use Efficiency and Root Water and Nitrate Uptake of Corn
Water 2018, 10(4), 526; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10040526 - 23 Apr 2018
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1705
Abstract
Due to water shortages and the increasing need for food in recent years, the optimization of water consumption parameters, fertilizers, and food production are essential and a priority. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of partial root-zone irrigation (PRI) [...] Read more.
Due to water shortages and the increasing need for food in recent years, the optimization of water consumption parameters, fertilizers, and food production are essential and a priority. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of partial root-zone irrigation (PRI) methods on corn plant characteristics. The study also tried to measure the water use efficiency (WUE) of corn in pot cultivation and provide the best method of management in the fields of irrigation and fertigation. For this purpose, three irrigation methods, including alternate partial root-zone irrigation (APRI), fixed partial root-zone irrigation (FPRI), and conventional irrigation (CI) were studied in pots, and completely randomized blocks with eight replications were carried out. Each pot was evenly separated with plastic sheets into two sub-parts of equal volume, between which no water exchange occurred. The water content of the field capacity was calculated by the weighting method. The water requirement was provided daily, equal to 95% of the field capacity water content. Parameters including shoot and root dry weight, nitrate (N) uptake, the remaining nitrate in the soil, leaf area index, and WUE during the growing season were measured and compared. According to the results, the amount of saved water using the FPRI and APRI methods compared to the CI method were 28% and 32%, respectively. The highest and lowest WUE were observed as equal to 4.88 and 3.82 g/L using the APRI and CI methods, respectively, among which the CI method had the highest yield according to the amount of utilized water. Given the statistical examinations, there was no significant difference in the nitrate level of plants between CI and APRI, and the lowest uptake was observed in FPRI. Finally, considering indicators of yield production and WUE simultaneously, the APRI method was selected as the best method of management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Article
Gas Exchanges and Stem Water Potential Define Stress Thresholds for Efficient Irrigation Management in Olive (Olea europea L.)
Water 2018, 10(3), 342; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10030342 - 20 Mar 2018
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1999
Abstract
With climate change and decreased water supplies, interest in irrigation scheduling based on plant water status is increasing. Stem water potential (ΨSWP) thresholds for irrigation scheduling in olive have been proposed, however, a physiologically-based evaluation of their reliability is needed. A [...] Read more.
With climate change and decreased water supplies, interest in irrigation scheduling based on plant water status is increasing. Stem water potential (ΨSWP) thresholds for irrigation scheduling in olive have been proposed, however, a physiologically-based evaluation of their reliability is needed. A large dataset collected at variable environmental conditions, growing systems, and genotypes was used to characterize the relation between ΨSWP and gas exchanges for olive. Based on the effect of drought stress on the ecophysiological parameters monitored, we described three levels of stress: no stress (ΨSWP above about −2 MPa), where the high variability of stomatal conductance (gs) suggests a tight stomatal control of water loss that limit ΨSWP drop, irrigation volumes applied to overcome this threshold had no effect on assimilation but reduced intrinsic water use efficiency (iWUE); moderate-stress (ΨSWP between about −2.0 and −3.5 MPa), where iWUE can be increased without damage to the photosynthetic apparatus of leaves; and high-stress (ΨSWP below about −3.5 MPa), where gs dropped below 150 mmol m−2 s−1 and the intercellular CO2 concentration increased proportionally, suggesting non-stomatal limitation to photosynthesis was operative. This study confirmed that olive ΨSWP should be maintained between −2 and −3.5 MPa for optimal irrigation efficiency and to avoid harmful water stress levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Article
Optimal Allocation Method of Irrigation Water from River and Lake by Considering the Field Water Cycle Process
Water 2017, 9(12), 911; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9120911 - 23 Nov 2017
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2039
Abstract
At present, the shortage of water resources has become a serious constraint to the further development of social economy. The optimal allocation of multi-water resources is valuable for agricultural water management in arid and semi-arid regions. However, traditional deterministic programming does not solve [...] Read more.
At present, the shortage of water resources has become a serious constraint to the further development of social economy. The optimal allocation of multi-water resources is valuable for agricultural water management in arid and semi-arid regions. However, traditional deterministic programming does not solve the complex water resources allocation in irrigation systems. Furthermore, previous allocation methods of irrigation water seldom considered the water cycle process, especially for multi-sources of irrigation. In this study, we develop an inexact fuzzy stochastic simulation-optimization programming (IFSSOP) model for the irrigation water optimal allocation of two water sources. The model combines the crop water model and the field water cycle model with an uncertainty optimization model, which considers the contribution of groundwater to crop water consumption. As a case study, the developed model is used in an arid area with two irrigation water sources: a river and a lake. Accordingly, the total optimal allocation irrigation water amounts of river and lake water under different violation probabilities in various hydrological years were obtained. By comparing the IFSSOP model with the IFSSOP model without considering the contribution of shallow groundwater (IFSSOP-NG model), it can be shown that the system benefits of the developed model are higher. With the lake water source from flood water, the region can save 30–34% of the river water, maintaining the original crop water deficit irrigation ratio. Consequently, application of the IFSSOP model in irrigation scheduling will provide effective water allocation patterns to save more water in an arid region with shallow groundwater. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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Review

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Review
Advances in Water Use Efficiency in Agriculture: A Bibliometric Analysis
Water 2018, 10(4), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10040377 - 25 Mar 2018
Cited by 39 | Viewed by 3986
Abstract
Water use efficiency in agriculture (WUEA) has become a priority given increasing limitations on hydric resources. As a result, this area of research has increased in importance, becoming one of the most prolific lines of study. The main aim of this study was [...] Read more.
Water use efficiency in agriculture (WUEA) has become a priority given increasing limitations on hydric resources. As a result, this area of research has increased in importance, becoming one of the most prolific lines of study. The main aim of this study was to present a review of worldwide WUEA research over the last 30 years. A bibliometric analysis was developed based on the Scopus database. The sample included 6063 articles. The variables analyzed were: articles per year, category, journal, country, institution, author, and keyword. The results indicate that a remarkable growth in the number of articles published per year is occurring. The main category is environmental science and the main journal Agricultural Water Management. The countries with the highest number of articles were China, the United States of America, and India. The institution that published the most articles was the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the authors from China also were the most productive. The most frequently used keywords were irrigation, crop yield, water supply, and crops. The findings of this study can assist researchers in this field by providing an overview of worldwide research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Agriculture Water Efficiency)
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