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
Crop advances grow with protection
28.04.2016 | American Society of Agronomy
Can urban gardeners benefit ecosystems while keeping food traditions alive?
06.04.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.
Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...
If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”
In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
04.05.2016 | Materials Sciences