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Towards sustainable use of water in rainfed and irrigated cropping systems: review of some technical and policy issues

1 CREA-AA, Via Ulpiani 5, 70125 Bari, Italy
2 CREA-PB, Via Po 14, 00198 Rome, Italy

Special Editions: Sustainable Crop Production Intensification

Water sustainability in agriculture is the main topic of this review. However, moving from studies carried out at worldwide level, the main focus of the paper is the Mediterranean farm which practices irrigated and/or rainfed cropping systems. On the basis of the state of the art on this matter, a lack of knowledge in some areas has come to light that calls for new policies and further research. Basically, the review provides feasible agro-technical solutions for using water in the most efficient and productive way. Alternative ways to use water resources rationally in growing crops are discussed. They are based mainly on progress due to agronomy (No-Till Conservation Agriculture), information technology (Decision Support System and Precision Irrigation) and genetics. Agronomic options are analysed taking into account recent European agricultural and environmental trends of policies which conjugate the issues related to sustainability and production intensification. In perspective, the review encourages discussion on how to relocate farming systems within natural cycles, specifically those of the water cycle, based on No-Till Conservation Agriculture principles and practices which apply to all land-based agro-ecologies in all continents where agriculture is practiced.
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Keywords irrigation; water policy; crop intensification; Mediterranean climate; Conservation Agriculture; Decision Support Systems

Citation: Marcello Mastrorilli, Raffaella Zucaro. Towards sustainable use of water in rainfed and irrigated cropping systems: review of some technical and policy issues. AIMS Agriculture and Food, 2016, 1(3): 294-314. doi: 10.3934/agrfood.2016.3.294

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