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The influence of pluviometry on the agri-environmental impact of irrigation land. A case in Bardenas (Zaragoza)

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Authors: J. Causapé Valenzuela e I. Clavería Laborda
Issue: 102-4 (386-397)
Topic: Plant Production
Keywords: Water, irrigation, fertilization, pollution, salt, nitrate

Irrigated agriculture is causing certain deterioration of the quality of rivers and aquifers. The objective of this study is to analyse the agri-environmental repercussions caused by climatic changes in typical irrigated land in the Ebro valley (Spain). The irrigation efficiency and agri-environmental impact in a basin of irrigated land (95 ha) were compared in two hydrological years with different pluviometry [Oct-00/Sept-01 (526 mm/yr) vs. Oct- 04/Sept-05 (211 mm/yr)]. For this end, water balances were carried out in every plot and the quantity and quality (salinity and nitrates) of the water circulating through the drainage of the basin were gauged. The results indicate that in 04/05 farmers adjusted the irrigation dosis better on each irrigation occasion, thus diminishing the fraction of drainage of the same (50% vs. 31%) and increasing the consumptive water use efficiency (56% vs. 79%). Nevertheless, the drought of 04/05 determined inappropriate irrigation management since the crops suffered a greater water deficit (3% vs. 23%). In 04/05, drainage waters presented higher electric conductivity (0.92 dS/m vs. 0.94 dS/m) and smaller nitrate concentration (96 mg/l vs. 74 mg/l). In this last year, 55%, 54% and 65% less, of water, salts and N-NO3 - respectively were exported in the drainage. The lesser environmental impact in the year 04/05 was influenced by more appropriate use of water and agrichemical resources. Nevertheless, it is necessary to continue optimizing agricultural practices, mainly irrigation and fertilization, in order to minimize nitrate pollution and to confront years of drought.

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