Climate change will lead to regional water shortages. If the use of river water is not regulated, both water quality and biodiversity could be negatively affected. Overuse can be avoided by redirecting water from larger bodies of water via pipes and distribution networks. This comes at a considerable price and has an impact on the environment.
Testing options on the basis of case studies
Researchers of an NRP 61 project investigated alternatives not in terms of sourcing more water but rather in terms of reducing the agricultural need for water. Based on models and an interdisciplinary approach, they tested a variety of options for a dry area (Plain of the Broye) and an area less dry (Lake of Greifen) up to 2050. They also took into consideration a number of economic and political conditions.
"The aim is to maintain productivity while minimising the use of water and the impact on the environment," says Jürg Fuhrer, leader of the project "Water demand in Swiss agriculture and sustainable adaptive options for land and water management" (AGWAM) at Agroscope.
The authors of the study have reached the conclusion that, even if the climate changes, the cultivation of agricultural land will remain viable, at least theoretically, in areas that are threatened by droughts such as the Plain of the Broye. Farmers in these areas need to limit the climate-related increase of water use and at the same time the losses in production and income. The necessary adaptations include improving irrigation efficiency, changing the mix of cultivated crops to include more winter crops such as winter rape seed or barley, adapting soil management and adjusting the organisation of agricultural land, i.e. which crops are best grown in which place.
Step-by-step change to more water-sensitive production
The aspect of the study that deals with farm management shows that farms will take measures to reduce their water needs if the price of water rises and water quotas are introduced. An environmental performance analysis shows, however, that agricultural production will continue to negatively impact the environment even if all measures considered in the study are taken. Further steps towards a resource-efficient practice are necessary, in particular, if the emission of greenhouse gases is to be reduced.
Society, the authorities and politicians will have to think about introducing incentives and rules to encourage a step-by-step transition towards an agricultural production that is more economical with water. Alternatively, they can implement purely technical and less ecological measures to maintain the status quo. His team's study, says Fuhrer, provides the scientific basis for a discussion which will become increasingly pertinent in view of the expected climate change and the related risks for agriculture.(*) Jürg Fuhrer, Danielle Tendall, Tommy Klein, Niklaus Lehmann, and Annelie Holzkämper (2013). Water Demand in Swiss Agriculture - Sustainable Adaptive Options for Land and Water Management to Mitigate Impacts of Climate Change (NRP61 Project AGWAM)
1st Agroscope Sustainability Conference
On 23 January 2014, the Institute of Sustainability Studies at Agroscope will organise a conference on "Water in agriculture - today and tomorrow". The researchers will present and discuss new insights and approaches for adapting to the changing climate. The political environment in which this adaptation will have to take place will also be discussed.
On this subjectMore detailed information and registration (by 14 January) for the Agroscope Sustainability Conference on "Water in Agriculture - today and tomorrow":
http://www.agroscope.ch/veranstaltungen/00610/index.html?lang=de&direction=asc&orderbyThe National Research Programme “Sustainable Water Management” (NRP 61)
ContactProfessor Jürg Fuhrer
Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw
Open-access article on Mexican bean beetles offers control tips
03.02.2016 | Entomological Society of America
Improved harvest for small farms thanks to naturally cloned crops
29.01.2016 | Universität Zürich
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
Indications of light-induced lossless electricity transmission in fullerenes contribute to the search for superconducting materials for practical applications.
Superconductors have long been confined to niche applications, due to the fact that the highest temperature at which even the best of these materials becomes...
Researchers at King’s College London and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom have for the first time demonstrated a direct link between the Wbp2 gene and progressive hearing loss. The scientists report that the loss of Wbp2 expression leads to progressive high-frequency hearing loss in mouse as well as in two clinical cases of children with deafness with no other obvious features. The results are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.
The scientists have shown that hearing impairment is linked to hormonal signalling rather than to hair cell degeneration. Wbp2 is known as a transcriptional...
Pollens, the bane of allergy sufferers, could represent a boon for battery makers: Recent research has suggested their potential use as anodes in lithium-ion batteries.
"Our findings have demonstrated that renewable pollens could produce carbon architectures for anode applications in energy storage devices," said Vilas Pol, an...
Automobiles increase the mobility of their users. However, their maneuverability is pushed to the limit by cramped inner city conditions. Those who need to...
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
09.02.2016 | Event News
09.02.2016 | Materials Sciences
09.02.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering