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The paradox of irrigation efficiency

Grafton, Quentin; Williams, John; Perry, C J; Molle, F; Ringler, Claudia; Steduto, Pasquale; Udall, B.; Wheeler, Sarah; Wang, Y.; Garrick, David; Allen, R. G.

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Reconciling higher freshwater demands with finite freshwater resources remains one of the great policy dilemmas. Given that crop irrigation constitutes 70% of global water extractions, which contributes up to 40% of globally available calories (1), governments often support increases in irrigation efficiency (IE), promoting advanced technologies to improve the “crop per drop.” This provides private benefits to irrigators and is justified, in part, on the premise that increases in IE...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorGrafton, Quentin
dc.contributor.authorWilliams, John
dc.contributor.authorPerry, C J
dc.contributor.authorMolle, F
dc.contributor.authorRingler, Claudia
dc.contributor.authorSteduto, Pasquale
dc.contributor.authorUdall, B.
dc.contributor.authorWheeler, Sarah
dc.contributor.authorWang, Y.
dc.contributor.authorGarrick, David
dc.contributor.authorAllen, R. G.
dc.date.accessioned2020-04-14T05:31:55Z
dc.identifier.issn0036-8075
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/202928
dc.description.abstractReconciling higher freshwater demands with finite freshwater resources remains one of the great policy dilemmas. Given that crop irrigation constitutes 70% of global water extractions, which contributes up to 40% of globally available calories (1), governments often support increases in irrigation efficiency (IE), promoting advanced technologies to improve the “crop per drop.” This provides private benefits to irrigators and is justified, in part, on the premise that increases in IE “save” water for reallocation to other sectors, including cities and the environment. Yet substantial scientific evidence (2) has long shown that increased IE rarely delivers the presumed public-good benefits of increased water availability. Decision-makers typically have not known or understood the importance of basin-scale water accounting or of the behavioral responses of irrigators to subsidies to increase IE. We show that to mitigate global water scarcity, increases in IE must be accompanied by robust water accounting and measurements, a cap on extractions, an assessment of uncertainties, the valuation of trade-offs, and a better understanding of the incentives and behavior of irrigators.
dc.description.sponsorshipS.A.W. was supported by the Australian Research Council project FT140100773; C.R. was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land, and Ecosystems; and F.M. was supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) AMETHYST project (ANR-12 TMED-0006-01).
dc.format.extent4 pages
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science
dc.rights© 2018 AAAS
dc.sourceScience
dc.titleThe paradox of irrigation efficiency
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume361
dc.date.issued2018-08-24
local.identifier.absfor050209 - Natural Resource Management
local.identifier.ariespublicationu4485658xPUB1714
local.publisher.urlhttps://www.aaas.org/
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationGrafton, R Quentin, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationWilliams, John, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationPerry, C J, Consultant
local.contributor.affiliationMolle, F, University of Montpellier
local.contributor.affiliationRingler, Claudia, International Food Policy Research Institute
local.contributor.affiliationSteduto, Pasquale, FAO, Land and Water Division
local.contributor.affiliationUdall, B., Colorado State University
local.contributor.affiliationWheeler, Sarah, The University of Adelaide
local.contributor.affiliationWang, Y., Tsi
local.contributor.affiliationGarrick, David, University of Oxford
local.contributor.affiliationAllen, R. G., University of Idaho
local.description.embargo2037-12-31
dc.relationhttp://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/FT140100773
local.identifier.essn1095-9203
local.bibliographicCitation.issue6404
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage748
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage750
local.identifier.doi10.1126/science.aat9314
dc.date.updated2019-11-25T07:52:12Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-85052125275
local.identifier.thomsonID000442828700021
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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