عنوان مقاله [English]
The lack of water resources and increase in water demand are among the effective factors in the imbalance of the water resources in each region, and it is necessary to manage the proper use of available water resources in all activities. Water in the agricultural sector is one of the main factors of production, which should be conveyed by irrigation systems to the field level and made available for the plant roots. The necessity of macro-planning in water management and consumption imposes a comprehensive study of the amount of water consumed in the agricultural sector. Hence, this study was conducted with the objective of directly measuring and field-assessing the applied water, water productivity, and water footprint associated with the primary crops cultivated in Markazi Province, all managed by local farmers.
For this purpose, 141 farms were selected in the major production areas of the main agricultural and horticultural crops of Markazi province with the coordination of the Agricultural Jihad centers. Then, the volume of water applied was measured without interfering in the irrigation scheduling of the users. To do so, first, the flow rate of the water source (canal, well, aqueduct or spring) was measured with a suitable device (flume and meter) in each of the selected farms. Then, by carefully monitoring the irrigation schedule of the farm, including the time of each irrigation, the number of irrigation throughout the year, as well as measuring the area under crop cultivation, the amount of water used by the crop was measured for each of the selected farms during the season. Also, based on the measured data, the amounts of blue, green and gray water footprints were determined for each of the examined crops. For this purpose, the blue, green and gray water footprints of different crops were calculated using the framework provided by Hoekstra and Chapagain (2008), and Hoekstra et al., (2011).
Results and Discussion
The irrigation intervals in the studied fields varied between 3 and 15 days with an average of 8 days and the average irrigation depth varied between 26.2 and 99 mm with an average of 67.8 mm in different crops. The results showed that the average volume of applied water for the studied crops in Markazi province was 10782 cubic meters per hectare. Also, the minimum and maximum amount of applied water for the evaluated crops was as follows: barley 3783 and 7232, alfalfa 10382 and 19797, beans 8280 and 17840, watermelon 5333 and 7174, walnuts 4420 and 29600, almonds 3850 and 13932, peaches 6872 and 17727, cherries 7050 and 14645, pomegranates 7156 and 20790, and grapes 5937 and 18168 cubic meters per hectare. Furthermore, the average value of irrigation water efficiency index and water footprint was as follows: barley 0.46 and 1642, alfalfa 0.92 and 700, bean 2924 and 0.24, watermelon 9.37 and 117, walnut 0.1 and 6706, almonds 0.16 and 6857, peach 2.48 and 242, cherries 0.73 and 875, pomegranates 1.33 and 636, and grapes 11.2 and 322. Based on the obtained results, the average total water footprint index was equal to 2102 cubic meters per ton. On average, the almond with a water footprint of 6857 cubic meters per ton had the highest share in allocating the water footprint in the crop production of the province. Whereas, the lowest water footprint related to the watermelon with a water footprint of 117 cubic meters per ton. he average values of the irrigation application efficiency index, irrigation water productivity, and water footprint for the examined farms were 72.5%, 1.79 kg/m3, and 2,102 m3/ton, respectively. In summary, the results indicate that the combined volume of irrigation water and beneficial rainfall in the irrigated fields within Markazi Province surpasses the actual water demand of the crops. This underscores the substantial impact of irrigation management on water utilization in the region.
On average, the total volume of irrigation water and effective rainfall in irrigated fields and gardens in Markazi Province is more than the actual water requirement of the plant. In general, the results showed that irrigation management has a great impact on the amount of water use in the region. Based on the obtained results, considering that most of the farms and gardens receive water in an intermittent manner, in principle, no special attention is paid to the need for water and even effective rainfall, and the amount of water availability has the greatest impact on water consumption. Therefore, in order to reduce water consumption and improve water efficiency, it is suggested to manage the delivery of water to farmers during the season and according to their crop water needs. Also, the results of the water footprint can be used to improve water resource policies at the province level, land use studies, cropping pattern modification, and environmental sector policies.