Belgican Development Cooperation, DGOS, UNESCO chair for eremology, Ghent, Belgium
Combating Desertification: assessment, adaptation and mitigation strategies. Proceedings of the conference on Desertification pages:157-170
Conferenence on Desertification edition:1 location:Ghent, Belgium date:22-23 January 2008
In the very near future, agriculture needs to increase its production with a continuously decreasing fraction of the available fresh water (Howell, 2001). Therefore, sustainable methods of drought mitigation and production increase need to be adopted (Smith, 2000).
Within this context deficit irrigation (DI) is now widely been investigated as a valuable production strategy in dry regions (English and Raja, 1996; Kirda and Kanber, 1999; Pereira et al., 2002, Zhang, 2003). DI requires an important mental shift about agricultural water use. For many years, the main aim of agricultural research was to maximize total production. Now the focus lies on the most restrictive factor in production systems: the availability of either land or water. In the arid and semi-arid regions of the world, the restrictive factor for crop cultivation is water. This consequently asks for the maximization of the productivity per unit water. This paper reviews recent results of DI for the maximization of water productivity and offers a framework to evaluate the agronomic possibility of DI for certain crops.