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'More crop per drop': How to make it acceptable for farmers?

Luquet D., Vidal A., Smith M., Dauzat J.. 2005. Agricultural Water Management, 76 (2) : p. 108-119.

In countries facing water scarcity, governmental water agencies try to transfer this constraint to farmers, e.g. by encouraging them to shift from traditional to localized irrigation methods to save water. However, water shortage is often much less a problem for farmers than soil limitations, their objective being mostly to maximize their income per cultivated area (US$ per hectare rather than per cubic meter of water). This discrepancy can only be solved if governments find ways to 'transfer' water scarcity, e.g. through economic incentives such as water pricing and/or subsidies. The aim of this study was to address the question of how to match the interest of both water managers and farmers. We aimed particularly at evaluating whether shifting to drip irrigation is a relevant way to save water and increase farmer's income. Our analysis was based on the interactive impacts among economic, environmental, technical and methodological parameters on the net productivity of two crops. We focused on the case study of Turkey considering two crops with contrasted gross productivity, tomato and cotton, characterized by partial vegetation cover during a large part of crop cycle. A 3D crop energy balance model was applied showing that crop transpiration is increased by up to 10% when shifting from furrow to drip irrigation. These results were used to correct the maximal evapotranspiration (ETm), estimated with the simple "crop coefficient" (Kc) method, and then used to enhance net productivity estimation both for furrow and drip irrigation. The results suggest that water managers and farmers share a common interest in adopting drip irrigation of tomato. Inversely, interests divergence may increase with low/medium value crops as cotton; the combination between water pricing and subsidies could be a way of agreement, but it would require subsidies for irrigation equipment of at least 40%, for low water tariffs, to 60%, for high water tariffs, to make the transfer from furrow to drip irrigation acceptable. This approach appeared generic enough to be applied for other economic, technical or environmental conditions, to modernize irrigation by harmonizing constraints faced by water managers and farmers. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : analyse économique; bilan énergétique; climat semi-aride; climat méditerranéen; gossypium; solanum lycopersicum; modèle; Évapotranspiration; conservation de l'eau; irrigation à la raie; irrigation goutte à goutte; turquie

Thématique : Irrigation; Ressources en eau et leur gestion; Culture des plantes

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