The WRM-30806 Water Delivery course offers a holistic understanding of different irrigation related aspects, including the specificities of irrigation systems, the importance of salinity control for sustainable agriculture and the current debates around improvements in water productivity and water efficiency.
About the course
Given that the majority of irrigation practices in the world still consist of surface irrigation methods (borders, basins, furrows), this course kicks off with a two weeks surface irrigation practical. Students conduct a field experiment for the calibration, evaluation and optimisation of an on-farm surface irrigation system.
As water is getting scarce and the pressure to become more efficient with water in agriculture increases, the second block of the course is dedicated to the design of a pressurised on-farm irrigation system (drip, sprinkler or micro-sprinkler) for a farm in Spain.
The long-term sustainability of irrigation (whether surface or pressurised) may be undermined by prolonged accumulation of salts in the soil and groundwater tables, as attested by the millions of hectares of irrigated land taken out of production to-date as a result of salinization. The third block of the course focuses on how to avoid these negative impacts, e.g. through flushing out salts and avoiding their accumulation in the soil and/or groundwater.
In the final block, the focus is shifted from farm level to the scales of irrigations systems and water catchments. How do efficiency, productivity and economic value indicators perform at larger scales of analysis? How do water savings at field level (painstakingly obtained in block 1 and 2) accrue to water savings at irrigation system or water catchment level? Are productivity gains at field scale transferable to system or catchment scale? How can the application of performance indicators help understand issues affecting the allocation and distribution of water, agricultural production and their socio-economic impacts? Through lectures and literature students gain insight on how performance indicators can be applied to address these questions in a quantitative manner.