New publication on water-saving agricultural technologies and regional hydrology outcomes

Tamara Jackson

A recent publication from CSIRO and BAU explores the links between water-saving agricultural technologies and regional hydrology. The paper by Dr Mojid and Dr Mainuddin reviews current literature and identifies key knowledge gaps, to work towards a better understanding of the links between irrigation management and regional hydrological cycles.

Increasing food demand has exerted tremendous stress on agricultural water usages worldwide, often with a threat to sustainability in agricultural production and, hence, food security. Various resource-conservation technologies like conservation agriculture (CA) and water-saving measures are being increasingly adopted to overcome these problems.

While these technologies provide some short- and long-term benefits of reduced labor costs, stabilized or increased crop yield, increased water productivity, and improved soil health at farm scale, their overall impacts on hydrology outcomes remain unclear at larger temporal and spatial scales. Although directly linked to the regional hydrological cycle, irrigation remains a less understood component. The ecological conditions arising from the hydrology outcomes of resource-conservation technologies are associated with sustainability in agricultural production.

In this paper, the philosophies and benefits of resource-conservation technologies and expert perceptions on their impacts on temporal and spatial scales have been reviewed comprehensively focusing on regional hydrology outcomes in the Eastern Gangetic Plain (EGP). Due to data inadequacy and lack of knowledge-sharing among disciplines, little is yet known about actual water saving by these resource-conservation technologies and the level of their contribution in groundwater and surface water storage over large temporal and spatial scales.

Inadequate knowledge of the hydrological effects of water applied in the agricultural field leads to the implementation of water management policy based on local perspectives only, often with the possibility of deteriorating the water-scarcity situation. Therefore, multidisciplinary future research should quantify regional hydrology outcomes by measuring the components of regional water balance in order to develop a proper water management policy for sustainable agricultural production.

The full paper is available here.

For more information, contact Dr Mainuddin ([email protected]).