Concerns about water scarcity in arid countries focus on irrigation, the most water-demanding sector worldwide. Irrigation is often seen as wasteful and inefficient. In fact, irrigation efficiency can be as low as 40-50 percent, leading to misuse of this finite and precious resource. In response to this, the common response is that more efficient and productive irrigation will lead to water saving. In reality, however, the poorly defined “water use (not distinguishing between consumptive and non-consumptive uses) has often led to technical interventions that have not stimulated the expected saving. They have instead worsened the initial water scarcity conditions.

Hi-tech efficient irrigation alternatives, such as drip and micro-sprinklers, have a number of benefits: higher yields due to improved irrigation timing and uniformity, conserving fertilizer, saving labor and sometimes energy. Yet these solutions rarely save water. Similarly, increasing water productivity rarely conserves water. To actually save water we need to reduce consumption, that is, the quota of water that is lost through evapotranspiration by the crop field. For a given quota of water consumed, you would implement solutions that reduce the non-beneficial consumption of water (the part not consumed by crops). This can be achieved most effectively by limiting the area cultivated under irrigation, mulching, using sub-surface irrigation or greenhouses. This webinar will examine the current approaches to improving water use and recommend alternatives in the context of arid countries.

Pasquale Steduto

Holding a MSc in Water Science and a PhD in Soil-Plant-Water Relationships from the University of California in Davis, Pasquale Steduto has been working for more than 20 years on agricultural water use efficiency and water productivity, with a focus on crops water requirements, their yield response to water and associate modeling development under water scarcity conditions. Scientific and technical activities have been conjugated with the management of many water-related development projects in Southern Europe, North Africa, Near East and Sub-Saharan Africa, also in cooperation with Centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

Introduced by:
Isabella Alloisio

Isabella Alloisio is a researcher and policy analyst at Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), where she is involved in the CLIMIP project, and she is the scientific coordinator and external relations manager at the International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG).

Working language: English.
Registration is required. For information and registration: or 041/2700442 (Silvia Nevi).

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