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  • Water requirements for irrigation in the European Union -A model based assessment of irrigation water requirements and regional water demands in Europe


Agriculture is an essential driving force in the management of water use. Especially in Southern European countries, irrigation is an essential element of agricultural production and agricultural water use has a substantial share in total water use (exceeding 50%). The presented work contributes to the assessment of impacts of irrigated agriculture on water resources at European scale. We developed a modeling approach to estimate irrigation water requirements and regional irrigation water demands in the EU at high spatial resolution. The modeling approach was applied for a first assessment of irrigation water requirements. A prerequisite of the analysis was the compilation of a European Irrigation Map (EIM), providing information on the distribution of irrigated areas in EU25 for modeling studies. The EIM complements the underlying European land use map (Grizzetti et al. 2007), combining FSS statistics on irrigated area and crop area and information from the Global Map of Irrigated Areas (Siebert et al. 2005). The map was used to derive irrigated areas (as total and per crop) for spatial modeling units. To estimate irrigation water requirements we applied the soil water and crop growth model EPIC that was implemented in a European agricultural modeling system EAGLE and calculates water and nutrient flows at a spatial resolution of 10x10 km raster cells. Different irrigation strategies were defined to analyze the effect of application rates and irrigation intervals on water requirement. The final results were given per raster cell and per crop, based on the most efficient irrigation strategy (maintaining optimum yield with lowest irrigation). We show that allowing higher soil water deficit does not automatically lead to non-tolerable reduction of crop yields and soil moisture. Irrigation requirements (irrigation per unit irrigated area) in Europe range up to 2368 mm/yr in average per cell.

Additional information

Authors: No author stated, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 23453 EN (2008), various paging. Free of charge
Availability: Katalogue Number: LB-NA-23453-EN-C The paper version can be ordered online at:
ISBN: ISBN: 978-92-79-09149-0
Record Number: 201010089 / Last updated on: 2010-01-22
Original language: en
Available languages: en