Irrigation practices and water savings

Overhaul of agricultural water supply could save 17 thousand million EUR in Italy alone over a 30 year period, according to recent study sponsored by Borealis together with a group of leading companies. Investments, innovation and improved water management policies in agriculture are the major recommendations from the study “Water management policies in agriculture” carried out by Althesys Strategic Consultants.
Findings were presented recently at a conference held in Rome, Italy which brought together high-anking stakeholders triggering important discussions and resulting in a commitment to cooperate on an action plan to work towards the study‟s recommendations. The research was developed through the analysis of practices in four critical areas: irrigation methods (drip irrigation and micro irrigation versus standard sprinkler systems), management models (information services for farmers), new technologies (automated delivery systems) and the water intake and distribution grids (replacement of open-air irrigation channels with conduits and repairing the existing ones).

According to Professor Alessandro Marangoni, an economist and expert in the energy and environment sectors, the use of drip irrigation and/or micro-aspersion in place of the current aspersion technique could achieve a net benefit between EUR 2.9 and 4.3 billion over the next three decades. Within the agricultural water supply grid, substitution of furrow irrigation with open channels would already yield estimated benefits of between EUR 4 and 8.1 billion. Furrow irrigation is widespread in farming across southern Europe as well as throughout Asia, but leads to substantial water loss through evaporation and infiltration.