Water pricing and irrigation across Europe: opportunities and constraints for adopting irrigation scheduling decision support systems

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Despite the plethora of irrigation scheduling decision support systems that have been developed over the past decades, there is little evidence of widespread adoption by farmers. This paper investigates the structural, institutional and political rigidities that affect the adoption of irrigation scheduling technologies in southern European countries and highlights the corresponding opportunities. The recent implementation of water pricing policies, as required under the European Water Framework Directive, could motivate farmers to invest in technologies for improving water management. A review of irrigation water prices in southern Europe found a large range of prices both within and between countries, from 0.054–0.645 €/m3 (Greece) to 0.23–1.50 €/m3 (France). However, inadequate monitoring infrastructure and a lack of political will to impose the new water prices are giving a mixed signal to farmers. An ageing and poorly trained farm population, small farm size and low level of farm investment also impede the uptake of irrigation technologies. Within this context, European-funded research needs to consider these constraints and pay closer attention to the conversion of knowledge and innovation into successful commercial products.

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