Agriculture and water harvesting, a global map

How and where crops can be improved by applying rainwater harvesting techniques. Indications from an international study in which DAGRI collaborates.

Where and how rainwater harvesting techniques can improve the yield of agricultural crops around the world. A mapping of territories that may be the most suitable for the implementation of water harvesting was carried out for the first time on a global scale. Full report in an article published in the international journal “Global Environmental Change”.

One of the authors, Giulio Castelli, co-author with Elena Bresci of the Water Harvesting Lab of the DAGRI Department and an international group, explains why this analysis is an important point of arrival.

“Estimates of the potential for water harvesting have so far been based mainly on biophysical data. Ours is a study based on multiple parameters, which also considers the socio-economic dimension and which, above all, analyses the factors that characterize some successful cases.”

What does the data indicate?

Through a geospatial analysis and the use of “territorial archetypes”, that is areas characterized by the possibility of applying similar techniques, we have identified the territories in which the implementation of water collection can bring significant benefits in terms of yield of crops on a local scale.

Can you give us some examples?

In Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and India we have identified large areas in which, with the adoption of appropriate water harvesting techniques, we could record an increase in agricultural production from 60 to 100%.

This analysis shows that the application of water collection techniques can be broadened and improved: who does your studio appeal to?

Certainly, to those who define development policies such as international agencies and bodies, for the development of better planning and sustainability. Our work was carried out, moreover, in collaboration with researchers who are already part of important international centres, such as WOCAT, which is the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies, an international network that deals with promoting studies and knowledge in favour of sustainable agriculture and the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC), a prestigious reference for the science of sustainability.

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