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Research & Innovation for Improving Water Use Efficiency

Laurie Tollefson Vice President International Commission on Irrigation & Drainage (ICID) 1

Introduction Agricultural Water Use Efficiency • Water is critical to sustainable agricultural production • To increase agricultural production with existing land and water resources will require increased water use efficiency (more crop/drop) • Requires integrated engineering, agronomic & institutional approaches • Research and Innovation Key 2

International Commission On Irrigation And Drainage -

Established 1950 Head Office – New Delhi, India 110 member country NGO Numerous affiliated International Organizations (FAO, UN Water, IWMI, World Bank) National Committee in each member country. Leading scientific, technical, professional and international NGO in the field of irrigation, drainage and flood control. Conducts work through 35 working groups, tasks forces and committees.

Global Irrigated and Rainfed Cropland Statistics • • • • •

1,500 million ha of global cropland 300 m ha irrigated (20%) Irrigated lands produce 40% of world’s food Utilize 70% water withdrawn from global river systems 1,200 m ha of rainfed lands producing 60% of the world’s food


billions 14


GLOBAL POPULATION PressureFor 1960 - 2050 High variant Medium variant


Low variant




2 1960











 Most growth in the less developed countries.  Africa & Asia have largest growth rate & most acute water shortage. 6



Water Scarcity Pressure Evolution of Water Shortages in 100 Years


Water use by sector

- Agriculture largest consumer of freshwater - Irrigation largest consumer of agricultural water 9

(FAO 2009)


Climate Change • • • • •

Effects unknown and unpredictable Variability and fluctuation Water shortage and drought in some regions Excess water in others Global agriculture must produce more food to feed a growing population while adapting to climate change


Managing Irrigation Systems in Today’s Environment • Remarkable development in irrigation and agriculture over the last 50 years. • World population grew from 2.5 to 6.5 Billion, irrigated land doubled and water withdrawl tripled. • Agriculture productivity increased with new crop varieties, fertilizer, irrigation (2.5 – 3 times). • World food production outstripped population growth. • Despite these facts, 850 million people are food insecure (60% in South Asia and Sub Sahara Africa). • Environmental concern greatly increased. • Great Challenge for Agriculture in 21st Century: achieving food security, adapting to climate change, mitigating climate change with resources: water, energy and land becoming increasingly scarce.1 1

Achieving Food Scarcity in the Face of Climate Change (2012) 12

Despite these successes – We have UNPRECEDENTED and RISING hunger and malnutrition


Research and Innovation Needs to Improve Water Use Efficiency Increase Land and Water Productivity

How do we maximize biological biological and economic productivity per unit of Ag land How do we maximize and economic and water while increasing environmental productivity per unit of Ag landperformance? and water while

increasing environmental performance?


(National Agricultural Biotechnology Group) 15

Engineering Improving Water Use Efficiency 1) Improved Infrastructure o o o

Improved water use efficiency must focus on the whole system Improved storage, diversion, distribution & on-farm water use Canal linings, pipeline conveyance & increased supplies to tail end.

Water Storage Canal Lining Pipeline


Upgrading Upgradingof ofconveyance conveyancenetwork network Conveyance Conveyancelosses lossesof of40-50% 40-50%


Conventional Conventionaland andModern ModernControl ControlStructures StructuresininConveyance ConveyanceNetwork Network and andSCADA SCADA

- Remote control of structures and monitoring of flow 18

On-Farm Irrigation

Upgrading Upgrading of of inefficient inefficient surface surface irrigation irrigation methods methods


Improvements to application efficiency of irrigated systems can improve water use efficiency System Type Surface Irrigation Furrow (conventional) Furrow (surge) Furrow (with tailwater reuse) Basin (with or without furrows) Sprinkler Irrigation LEPA (low energy precision application) Linear move Centre Pivot (low pressure drop-tube) Traveling Gun  Side Roll Hand Move Solid Set Micro-irrigation Bubbler (low head) Microspray Micro-point source Micro-line source Subsurface Drip Surface Drip

Application Efficiency Range (%) 45-64 55-75 60-80 60-75   80-90 75-85 75-88 65-75 65-85  65-85 70-85   80-90 85-90 85-90 85-90 >95 85-95

Irmak et al. 2011. Irrigation Efficiency and uniformity, and crop water use efficiency. University of Nebraska, Lincoln. EC732. USDA. 2005. Irrigation System (Chapter 6) 210-vi-NEH 652, IG Amend. NJ1, AARD. 2013. Alberta Irrigation Manual:


On-Farm Irrigation Drip

Surface Center Pivot

Side-Roll Sprinkler



Irrigation Application Change


· On-farm irrigation efficiency has increased from 36% in 1965 to 74% in 2000.     


(Alberta Agriculture) 24

Genetics and Agronomy

More crop/drop through improved varieties, fertility, irrigation scheduling, etc. 25

Breeding Drought Tolerant Crops


CspB gene in corn improves water use efficiency Industry will market this corn and evaluate soybeans, wheat and cottom Conversion C3 photosynthesis crops (wheat, rice) to C4 (corn and sorgum) through genetic and chemical research 26

Irrigation Management Effect of Irrigation on Water Use Efficiency Practice

Increase in WUE %

Irrigation Scheduling

5 – 38

Method of Irrigation

7 – 48

Timing of Irrigation

25 - 57

WaterMark Sensor

Raza et all 2012 Raza et al Improved Water Use Efficiency for Sustainable Agriculture, In Agroecology & Strategies for Climate Change. Springer 2012


WaterMark Sensor Infrared Thermometer Evaporation Pan

Evaporation Pan

Neutron Probe 27

Precision Irrigation

Precision drip and trickle emitters or pressure regulated nozzles to allow irrigation on undulating land


Variable Rate Irrigation • Soils and crops vary within field • VRI is precision agriculture applied to irrigation • Application different irrigation amounts to match crop water demand at small scale in field


Solar Irrigation Solar powered two-tower miniature centre-pivot (1.5 hectares), first in Canada, CSIDC farm Outlook Sk.


Solar Irrigation - Egypt


Reduced Evaporation • Evaporative losses open water bodies (2 m/year) in hot climates • Mulches in conjunction with drip irrigation

Drip Line

Plastic Mulch Applicator

Plastic Mulch


Other Innovative Approaches 1) Water Harvesting - small reservoirs designed to catch flood water for later use

2) Conjunctive use of Surface & Ground Water - combining use of surface & ground water to

optimize the water demand/supply and minimize environmental impact

3) Wastewater Irrigation - re-use of saline drainage water, human and

industrial effluent water savings, reduced treatment cost, less pollution

4) Conservation Tillage - enhanced infiltration and reduced run-off 5) Controlled drainage & sub-irrigation 33

Environment Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases • • •

Originated Copenhagen Summit, Launched in 2009 Ensure Ag emissions understood and that GHG emissions decline for every unit of food produced 32 member countries work in livestock, cropping, paddy rice


Improved water use efficiency included under Global Research Alliance Quantifying greenhouse gases under irrigation and drained conditions Developing BMP’s to mitigate them

Environment - Improved Water Use Efficiency helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, reduces seepage and salinity, leaching

Irrigated systems generate more CO2 emissions per hectare than dryland systems. However, on a per crop weight basis CO2 emissions are similar.

Emissions per hectare per  growing season

Emissions per tonne of crop per growing season

Kulshrehtha , Sobool. 2006. Comparative GHG emissions intensities from irrigated and dryland agricultural activities. Can. Water Res. J 31:157

Institutional Needs i) Institutions -

Institutions dealing with water management are often complex. Water resource planning, assessment and construction of water schemes of National Water Resource Institutes staffed by engineers. On-farm management and extension handled by Ministry of Agriculture. Lack of co-ordination and co-operation resulted in poor water use efficiency Better co-ordination required.

responsibility -

ii) Water Pricing -

Governments have traditionally built and operated irrigation systems with minimal charge for their service. Water often allocated to irrigation districts which does not reflect market value. Here reluctance to adopt efficiency measures. When prices reflect scarcity or government regulates the use, producers will use it more efficiently. Institutional structure and rules required 36

iii) Water User Associations -


High correlation to irrigation project sustainability Farmer involvement in planning, construction and management Farmers contribute to O & M costs Improper institutional support and training Lower standards of O & M and service delivery.

Education and Training -

Crucial to improved water use efficiency. - Complex subject but often limited training for irrigation project operation and maintenance staff - Best design, installation and equipment does not ensure success - Farmer must understand production of crop but also operation and maintenance of systems - Inadequate extension and training for producers - Education and extension must be government priorities.


v) Participatory Research -

Farmers participating with researchers and extensionists in setting research direction Better communication is essential Multidisciplinary approach


Future Challenges for Research and Innovation • • • • •

Improved multidisciplinary team approach (plant, soil, hydrology, socio-economic, environment, policy) Identifying research needs - Participatory approach Policy relevant research Dissemination and utilization of appropriate information to end users Capacity building and training of scientists and extension personnel

Climate change


Research & Innovation for Improving Water Use Efficiency  

Seminar Session 1