Efficient water use in irrigated agriculture: An exploratory study of fruit cultivation in southeast Spain

  1. Amparo Melián Navarro 1
  2. María Dolores de Miguel Gómez 2
  1. 1 Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche

    Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche

    Elche, España

    ROR https://ror.org/01azzms13

  2. 2 Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

    Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena

    Cartagena, España

    ROR https://ror.org/02k5kx966

International Conference of Agricultural Engineering - AgEng 2014 Zurich

Year of publication: 2014

Type: Conference paper


Water is a limited resource, which requires careful, efficient, environmentally friendly management to meet the needs of agriculture, industry, and the public. Good public management and administration of this resource is therefore paramount. Under the EU Water Framework Directive, the Member States of the European Union are set to undertake measures to promote the efficient, sustainable use of water across Europe. This article presents a study of the Vega Baja del Segura region of Alicante in southeast Spain. This region comprises the agricultural units (unidades de demanda agrícola, UDAs) 46, 48, and 51, as defined by the Segura basin project (Proyecto de la Cuenca del Segura, PCHS). Within these units, farmers employ numerous irrigation techniques to cultivate a variety of crops, predominantly citrus fruits. The aim of this research is to determine the efficiency of water usage in fruit cultivation. Questionnaire responses from local farmers, irrigation communities (Comunidades de Regantes), and water-management courts (Juzgados Privativos de Agua) were analysed to achieve the research aims. Analysis of these responses yielded the following key findings. First, agricultural business owners in the area are predominantly male older adults. Second, farming in this area is experiencing a lack of involvement from younger generations. This acts as a barrier to investment in new irrigation technologies in the county, where smallholdings prevail over larger farms. Drip irrigation systems are used by 49% of respondents, especially citrus fruit famers. According to indicators used to reflect production efficiency in terms of manpower, the cultivation of lemons is the most efficient fruit cultivation process in the region. In terms of water usage, the most efficient fruit cultivation is pomegranate farming.