1. Final Report Summary - DIMAS (Deficit irrigation for Mediterranean agricultural systems)
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Abstract: Irrigation utilises approximately 80 % of the entire water consumption in the Mediterranean basin. This excessive freshwater consumption has to be reduced because of the increased demand for other uses and the apparent water scarcity in the region. The objective of the DIMAS project was to evaluate the concept of deficit irrigation (DI) as a means of reducing irrigation water use while maintaining or increasing farmers' profits.
Multidisciplinary research with various crops at different geographic locations and numerous scales was implemented to achieve the project objectives. The consortium members included research institutions and water associations of seven different countries which contributed expertise in the fields of water management, modelling, agricultural economics, sociology, rural development, irrigation agronomy, crop eco-physiology, irrigation engineering, soil science and geo-information. DIMAS participants focussed on the following activities:
1. development of a general summary of crop yield as a function of water supply
2. validation of a model for the main irrigated annual and perennial crops using common research protocols
3. elaboration of a survey on physical, socioeconomic and cultural conditions for each crop and irrigated area and
4. technology scale-up through combination of the yield model with economic optimisation modules that generated promising results for the specific conditions of each area under study.
The efforts in developing a new simulation model were based on lines initiated by the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The model was accessible online by all project members and the general public, upon request. Field experiments were carried out to provide data for the model validation under varying water stress. The crops that were analysed included wheat, sunflower, cotton, olive, pistachio and citrus, representing the most common products of Mediterranean agriculture.
A workable, comprehensive set of DI practices and recommendations was therefore developed and disseminated among the various agricultural systems to ensure the sustainability of the applied practices. Feedback from the project end users was expected to be provided via the participation of farmers' associations and irrigation water agencies. It was anticipated that the proposed strategies would be useful towards a more rational exploitation of water resources with respective reduction of environmental problems. Finally, DIMAS attempted to increase the applicability of the proposed innovations to the agriculture industry, thereby contributing to sustainable development in the sector.
Subject Descriptors: Water resources ; Agriculture; Information analysis; Management issues ; Sustainable development
Subject Index Codes: Business aspects; Water resources and management; Information and communication technology applications ; Sustainable development ; Agriculture