Spain: Old-fashioned irrigation systems consume 50% more waterStaff Writer | December 22, 2017
Spain has 3.6 million hectares of irrigated land, of which 978,000 feature old-fashioned irrigation systems that consume between 40 and 50% more water.
Farming 3.6 million hectares of irrigated land
Aquae Foundation has recently presented "Aquae Papers 7: Water and the challenges of the 21st century", where its author, the professor of the Faculty of Economics of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Albert Martínez Lacambra, analyses the current challenges in irrigation, marked by water scarcity, population pressure and climate change.
Martínez asks in the report: "how many more hectares could be converted into irrigated lands with the surplus water gained with the modernization of current irrigation systems? This is particularly important at a time like the present, marked by the scarcity of a resource as precious as water.
He estimates this figure at between 400,000 and 500,000 hectares; that is to say, it would be possible to have 10% more irrigated land in Spain and, in this way, the productivity would also improve.
The economist highlights the need to optimise the use of water in agriculture, which consumes approximately 70% of water compared to the 12% that goes to urban uses and 18% for industrial activities.
Although the author points out that only 3.9% of the 78 billion dollars of the world GDP are generated by the primary sector (the industry accounts for 27.6% and services for 68.5%), water uses shouldn't be motivated by their financial returns, since agriculture... is the basis for the subsistence and development of human beings."
However, "it is necessary to devote all our technological resources into agriculture and to facilitate a rational use of water," so he insists on the fact that irrigation systems must be modernised and avoid blanket irrigation, "as the efficiency and productivity levels are much lower with it." ■