This project addresses the efficient and sustainable use of water for food production in water-scarce environments. It aims at improving the technical, environmental and socio-economic performance of irrigation schemes by means of a range of measures. Major technical innovation is made possible by the comprehensive space-time coverage of Earth observation (EO) data and the interactive networking/connecting capabilities of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). A key feature will be a set of EO- and ICT-assisted integrated systems and services which will be the foundation for integrated water resources management of river basins, irrigation schemes, and farms. This set of systems and services will also be the basis for technical and social learning that enables farmers to act responsibly by fine-tuning their on-farm irrigation management in accordance with the river-basin water status and management decisions.
We consider the economic, environmental, technical, social, and political dimensions and pursue a synergy of leading-edge technological innovation (that facilitates active participation) with participatory approaches (that require distributed spatial information and networking technology).
A set of pilot Case Studies has been selected to represent a sample of the conditions found in the Southern Mediterranean, covering Spain, Italy, Lebanon and Jordan. We will benchmark the technical, environmental, and economic performance of irrigation systems in our pilot river-basins, conduct trial campaigns with EO- and ICT-assisted products in a participatory evaluation with stakeholders, and assess the effect of the new tools on water productivity and performance of our pilot irrigation systems.
The MAIN OUTPUTS of the project will consist of:
- Development of a multi-scale WEB-based geographic information tool in selected pilot areas and basin in Italy, Spain, Lebanon and Jordan with maps of irrigated areas, crop water requirements, water productivity (in combination with Aquacrop and/or SWIR analyses); the maps will cover 2 years.
- Capacity building: the tool mentioned above will be developed as much as possible in collaboration with young scientist from the participating countries. Besides the usual dissemination means (publications, web-site, media) it has been planned the organisation of a summer-school of 1 week duration during the third year for 25 participants. PostDoc grants at the University of Naples will be specifically to non-Italian candidates from Mediterranean countries on this topic from project funding. These actions will contribute to the constitution of a Euro-Mediterranean research network on “Earth Observation for irrigation management”.
- Dissemination among stakeholders: in the pilot areas by involving stakeholders (water and irrigation managers, farmers and their associations, local authorities) in dissemination actions we aim at raising awareness about the importance of reducing water consumption in agriculture and the impact of irrigation on the environmental and economic conditions of local communities.