Water productivity and footprint of major Brazilian rainfed crops – A spatially explicit analysis of crop management scenarios

Flach, R., Skalsky, R. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0983-6897, Folberth, C. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6738-5238, Balkovic, J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2955-4931, Jantke, K., & Schneider, U.A. (2020). Water productivity and footprint of major Brazilian rainfed crops – A spatially explicit analysis of crop management scenarios. Agricultural Water Management 233 e105996. 10.1016/j.agwat.2019.105996.

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Green water is a central resource for global agricultural production. Understanding its role is fundamental to design strategies to increase global food and feed production while avoiding further land conversion, and obtaining more crop per drop. Brazil is a country with high water availability, and a major exporter of agricultural goods and virtual water. We assess here water use and water productivity in Brazil for four major rainfed crops: cotton, maize, soybeans, and wheat. For this, we use the EPIC crop model to perform a spatially explicit assessment of consumptive water use and water productivity under crop management scenarios in Brazil between 1990 and 2013. We investigate four different land-water interactions: (i) water use and productivity for different management scenarios, (ii) the potential of supplemental irrigation for productivity improvement, (iii) changes in green water use throughout the study period, and finally (iv) potential reduction of land and water demand related to agricultural intensification. The results show that, for the studied crops, green water is the main resource for biomass production, and intensification can lead to great improvements in green water productivity. The results also suggest that, despite achieving higher yields, irrigation-based intensification tends to lower overall water productivity, compared to fertilizer-based intensification strategies. This is, however, regionally and crop-specific. Furthermore, due to higher yields and water productivity, producing the same amount of crop output in irrigated or rainfed intensification scenarios would result in the reduction of resource demand, in the order of 34–58 % for cropland, and 29–52 % for water.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Green Water; Sustainability; EPIC; Crop modeling; Water footprint
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2020 08:25
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:32
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/16308

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