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Farm level optimal Water Management: Assistant for irrigation under deficit

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Managing an increasingly scarce resource - water

More and more often we hear that water will likely replace oil as the most critical natural resource issue, its scarcity becoming the cause of both civil and international wars. Investment in new technologies for sustainable agriculture could reduce water usage for irrigation and increase productivity and income as well.

Climate Change and Environment

Although food security has improved tremendously within the past 30 years, the World Bank has declared that 80 countries face water shortages that threaten health and economies. Water for irrigation represents approximately two thirds of all water usage, varying among countries with minimal usage in the United Kingdom but reaching close to 80 % in India. The ‘Farm level optimal water management: Assistant for irrigation under deficit’ (Flowaid) project was undertaken to develop a deficit irrigation management system for crop production in cases of limited water availability and marginal water quality. The researchers focused on development of innovative and affordable technologies based on a sensor integrated with a decision support system (DSS). The technologies enabled optimisation of irrigation parameters based on water availability and climactic conditions. The project chose four test sites, three of which were located in Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs), with different crops, irrigation structures and water supplies. The case studies demonstrated significant enhancements in water efficiency and productivity relative to conventional methods. Ongoing collaboration with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should ensure improved designs with various irrigation options as well as commercialisation in the near future. In summary, the Flowaid project demonstrated enhanced efficiency and increased productivity resulting from implementation of new technologies for sustainable farming. Commercialisation of the new technologies will benefit farmers, SMEs and the planet as water shortages increasingly threaten livelihoods and lives in the coming years.

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