Irrigated agriculture and groundwater resources – towards an integrated vision and sustainable relationship

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Globally, irrigated agriculture is the largest abstractor, and predominant consumer, of groundwater resources, with large groundwater-dependent agro-economies now having widely evolved especially in Asia. Such use is also causing resource depletion and degradation in more arid and drought-prone regions. In addition crop cultivation practices on irrigated land exert a major influence on groundwater recharge. The interrelationship is such that cross-sector action is required to agree more sustainable land and water management policies, and this paper presents an integrated vision of the challenges in this regard. It is recognised that ‘institutional arrangements’ are critical to the local implementation of management policies, although the focus here is limited to the conceptual understanding needed for formulation of an integrated policy and some practical interventions required to promote more sustainable groundwater irrigation.

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