Water is a vital component of agricultural production. It is essential to maximise both yield and quality. Water has to be applied in the right amounts at the right time in order to achieve the right crop result. At the same time, the application of water should avoid waste of a valuable resource and be in sympathy with the environment as a whole. Understanding, measuring and assessing how water flows around the farm, and recognising how farming practices affect flows, will help farmers to manage water efficiently and reduce pollution risks.
Measures to improve land and water productivity may include:
- Making more rainwater available to crops when most needed (capture water -rainwater harvesting, soil and water conservation-, and using it -deficit irrigation; supplementary irrigation etc.);
- on-farm water management to minimize water losses by evaporation;
- use of improved crop varieties;
- use of improved cropping systems and agronomics, such as conservation tillage;
- development of financial frameworks to provide incentives for the adoption of best practices and new technology;
- use of low quality water in non-conventional (not for direct human consumption) applications such as forestry;
- Evaluation of rainfall patterns to determine quantity and quality available for agriculture use and rethinking crop scheduling.
Increased land and water productivity in rainfed systems will imply technologies and practices but also need to be supported by capacity building, financing, marketing systems and adequate policies and institutional changes.