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No. 11 (227) September 2013



September 10-14, 2013, Bari, Italy

The Conference entitled “Water, Environment And Agriculture: Challenges For Sustainable Development” was organized by the Board of the International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (CIGR) and International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies – Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM-IAMB), Italy.

Over the recent years, the link between water, land and agricultural development became more tight, functional and complex due to multiple factors such as the population growth, the trends for increasing the urbanized population, the changes in behavior of rural societies, climate change, and the progressive loss of agricultural land.

By the mid of this Century, the world population growth up to 9 billion results in the need to produce almost one-third more agricultural production, which will require the considerable increase of water and land productivity and allows to significantly alleviate poverty and hunger. The challenges associated were set by Prof. Luis S. Pereira, CIGR Honorary President CEER, Prof. Angelo Corendi, President, Institute of Bari, and Prof. Mahmoud Abu Zeid, President, Arab Water Council, former President of the World Water Council, in their welcome speeches. Abu Zeid highlighted that in 2025, 5 billion people will live in water-stressed countries.

More than 100 reports and the same number of posters were delivered at the Conference. The themes of the Conference included: water use performance and water productivity; conservation agriculture and water saving; sustainability of groundwater exploitation for agriculture; decision support systems and modelling tools; innovative data-acquisition and information and communication technologies; climate change: adaptation and mitigation; drought/flood risk management; socio-economic aspects of land and water management; policies, governance and institutional development; water-food-energy nexus, eco-efficiency and ecological footprint

A big scientific school of developers of the theory of water consumption, under leadership of Luis S. Pereira, R. Allen – the authors of FAO manuals 24 and 56, celebrated 25th anniversary of successful use of these tools in estimating and planning water use throughout the world. Specialists from Italy, Spain, Portugal, USA, Brazil, China, African countries and Uzbekistan demonstrated the further development and improvement of the line, which is now aimed at taking into account climate change, more accurate estimates of crop coefficients, capabilities for operative forecast of water supply and assessment of damage from insufficient water supplied. CROPWAT model served as the basis for a range of different models in the world: Aquacrop (Stedutto), CropSyst (University of Leuven), SIMdual (Italy), Isareg (Pereira et al.), SIMTAW (California). Two model complexes – Hydrotech (Mladen Todorovic) and Foodplus (University of Nottingham) include different aspects of agrarian production. The latter complex covers fish production, linkage with livestock sector, processing, etc. The University of Cranfield developed for farmers the field passports similar in their content to our developments under Water and land Productivity Improvement Programme. Based on satellite images, they evaluate uniformity of crops and identify reasons for inequality, which are then incorporated into recommendations on leveling not only surface, but homogeneity of soil properties as well. Inequality of drainage impact is taken into account.

Prof. Giuseppe Rossi Paradiso, University of Catania, Executive Board of International Water Resources Association (IWRA), delivered the interesting report “Achieving ethical responsibilities in water management: a challenge”. The report stated ideas and suggestions tune in to our ideas of hydrosolidarity development by means of strengthening the international water law through inclusion of a special water right for food production. He supposed to dramatically strength global water governance due to UN monitoring violation of water rights of some countries and specially irrigated lands.

Prof. V.A. Dukhovny participated as the Conference Scientific Committee Member, delivering the report on Uzbekistan’s experience in improving land and water productivity in the Ferghana Valley. Dr. Galina Stulina delivered the presentation on applying Reqwat program based on refined hydromodule zoning in the Ferghana Valley to reduce water consumption by Water Users’ Associations (WUAs), while climate-based adjusting irrigation schedules.

Dr. Nadir Al-Hati, Head of the National Water Center, Palestine, said that the countries sharing the Jordan River organized “Unity of Jews, Christians and Muslims in Water Use”. They took the lead in developing the master plan for the Jordan River water resources use in order to restore its flow. Israel made its first step: they released the first 50 mln m3 of water right to the Jordan River from the Lake Kineret, taking into account that great amount of water is desalinated by the country.

Large system researches of irrigation systems carried out in Italy, Spain enabled to establish the integral cluster “The way from plant to irrigation system” where the national governments of both countries take an active part. They organized the meteohydrologic service system for agriculture. It daily provides agrarians with information not only on climatic indicators, but daily estimated “potential alfalfa requirements”, referenced to which it is possible to adjust water requirements of each crop through recomputation. At that, it is typical the policy of compulsory having their own economic and water strategies by each Water Users’ Association as well as every field is supported.

Chinese colleagues implemented a similar forecasting information system covering 570 thousand hectares within the Yellow River basin, and on this basis, they developed and implemented a farmers’ support system as a set of recommendations on and models of water consumption.

In Italy, Naples (Napoli) province, IRRISTAT system was developed and based on data from remote measuring and on the ground. It is connected with Internet and every 10 days transfers to farmers the information on leaf-area index, plant condition, plant suppression and reference evapotranspiration of plant cover. Taking into account crop coefficients, every farmer is informed through SMS on required irrigation models referring to his/her plot at 20õ20 grid. Although the cost is rather high – 7 euro/ha, and the state takes almost a half of it, the model is gaining ground and starts to spread in Australia and Mexico.

Even a more modern step was taken by Spanish scientists, who developed the automated system for sprinkling irrigation with Fregat-type machines by means of the remote control turn-off of machine’s some sections, based on satellite information on moisture content in one or another plot.

Prof. V.A. Dukhovny,
Director of SIC ICWC