Sustainable Water Management in Agriculture under Climate Change
Water is considered as the most critical resource for sustainable agricultural development worldwide. Irrigated areas will increase in forthcoming years, while fresh water supplies will be diverted from agriculture to meet the increasing demand of domestic use and industry. Furthermore, the efficiency of irrigation is very low, since less than 65% of the applied water is actually used by the crops. The sustainable use of irrigation water is a priority for agriculture in arid areas. So, under scarcity conditions and climate change considerable effort has been devoted over time to introduce policies aiming to increase water efficiency based on the assertion that more can be achieved with less water through better management. Better management usually refers to improvement of water allocation and/or irrigation water efficiency. The former is closely related to adequate pricing, while the latter depends on the type of irrigation technology, environmental conditions and the scheduling of water application. Agricultural practices, such as soil management, irrigation and fertilizer application and disease and pest control are related with the sustainable water management in agriculture and protection of the environment. Socio-economic pressures and climate change impose restrictions to water allocated to agriculture. The adoption of sustainable water management in Mediterranean is not only a technological problem but involves many other considerations relative to social behavior of rural communities, the economic constrains, or the legal and institutional framework that may favor the adoption of some measures and not others. Sustainable water management in agriculture, which has a multi-functional role in Southern Europe, can be achieved by adopting improvements in irrigation application, soil and plant practices, water pricing, reuse of treated wastewater, farmers’ participation in water management and capacity building.