Water and Agriculture

Water and Agriculture

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23 Oct 2006
9789264022577 (PDF) ;9789264022560(print)

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Agriculture is a major user of water and is responsible for much of its pollution. But the agricultural sector faces increasing competition for scarce water supplies from urban and industrial users and, increasingly, to sustain ecosystems.  This conference proceedings explores how both governments and the private sector can expand the role of markets to allocate water used by all sectors and to get agricultural producers to account for the pollution that their sector generates.
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  • Highlights
    Agriculture’s use and impact on water resources involves complex trade-offs between economic, social and environmental demands under a wide range of institutional structures. Irrigated farming accounts for a major and growing share of farm production and rural employment in some OECD countries, but overuse of often scarce water resources is an increasing concern. Agriculture is a major source of water pollution but also contributes to ecosystem services (e.g. provision of habitat for some wildlife), for certain regions within some OECD countries. Agricultural production support and subsidies for variable inputs, especially for water and energy, continue to misalign farmer incentives and aggravate overuse and pollution of water across many OECD countries.
  • Address by Senator Ian Macdonald
  • An Australian Perspective on Water Reform
  • Using Good Economic Principles to make Irrigators become True Partners of Water and Environmental Policies
    Water for irrigation is a production input that is used in farms jointly with other inputs — land, capital and managerial skills. Farmers respond to both market and policies incentives, but need time to adapt their production systems in response to policy changes. The literature shows that irrigators’ water demand is fairly inelastic in the short run and for moderate water price increases. Yet, large differences across regions and even irrigation schemes can be found in water productivity, technologies and resource use efficiency in general. This shows that water productivity could be enhanced significantly. Yet this paper argues that pricing water to meet full cost-recovery is a necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure more efficient and sustainable water use. Capital adjustments, both within and beyond the farm boundaries, are also required to help farmers be able to respond to innovative water management. In contexts where water is scarce, ensuring efficient resource allocation must be added to the equation. The same applies to the environmental damage and benefits functions. Water markets, or similar instruments, are essential to distribute resource scarcity signals. In sum, balanced policy mixes are required to deliver socially desirable objectives, none of which can be achieved making farmers less competitive or eroding their profitability. There are large social and environmental benefits that can be gained from more efficient water use for irrigation. Yet farmers will not deliver them following their own interest. It is the role of government policies to lead the transformation of millions of hectares of irrigated land, working closely with farmers in order to take advantage of all technological and scientific possibilities.
  • The Future of Agriculture and Water
    As global projections for water availability and the demand for water in agriculture point towards increasing scarcity and supply variability, more attention is being paid to the role that policies can play in enhancing the management and sustainability of water – in terms of both quantity and quality. Drawing some lessons from the North American experience, this paper discusses some best practices that can be learned by developing countries, and highlights some pitfalls that should be avoided. We discuss the role that assigning water rights can play in creating the necessary incentives for market-based mechanisms of re-allocation to work for both water quantity and quality management. We also emphasise the role that remains for centralised regulatory authority, and the need for collective action to ensure that essential eco-system requirements are met. Among the examples we draw from are those of inter-sectoral transfers, conjunctive use of surface and groundwater and tradable permit mechanisms – for which we also highlight the enabling institutional requirements.
  • National Water Initiative – The Economics of Water Management in Australia – An Overview
    The major economic issues facing agriculture and water in Australia involve the continued transition to using and managing water under the influence of more mature market conditions. This includes clearer specification of water property rights, assigning risk of changes in water allocation to improve investment certainty, proper accounting for water, extending the scope for efficient water markets, and pricing which seeks to better reflect the true economic cost of the resource. Each of these elements is pursued by Australia’s blueprint for water reform, the National Water Initiative. Amongst other things, the transition will involve making careful judgements in order to optimise the mix of markets, planning and regulation for water management in Australia.
  • Water Pricing for Agriculture between Cost Recovery and Water Conservation
    Based on concrete case studies this communication presents the French experience in water pricing for various regions and irrigated schemes and over time. It shows a large range of ways for charging for water that could be analysed in light of the main objectives that are dedicated to it by policymakers and water managers: cost recovery, income redistribution among users and water conservation. This last issue will give us the opportunity to discuss the incentives to save water they provide in order to evaluate the consistency of these economic instruments with the European Water Framework Directive.
  • Allocation of Costs and Benefits in the Water Framework Directive
    Different sectors in the Netherlands, not least agriculture, have a steep hill to climb to meet the requirements for implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Considerable investments in water (quality) management are expected in the coming decade. The search for sustainable development possibilities for all sectors involved in this process dominates the discussion in the process of an economic analysis within the WFD implementation. The Netherlands strives for providing possibilities and perspective for many different activities within a small area. To prevent a disproportionate burden being placed on a particular sector it is important to strike the best possible balance between the various interests in rural areas, such as nature management and agriculture, and divide the costs associated with implementation of the WFD proportionally between the different players. A Social Cost Benefit Analysis (SCBA) where nature and environment are included illustrates the consequences for wealth in the Netherlands of implementing the measures to realise the goals of the WFD, but does not illustrate consequences for cost allocation. Via analyses of the separate items, it will be possible to gain insight into this matter. Ultimately, determining which measures are best suited to the implementation of the WFD and decisions on cost allocation, based on the results of a Social Cost Benefit Analysis and a Cost Effectiveness Analysis (CEA), is a matter of political choice.
  • Japanese Water Management System from an Economic Perspective
    Japanese water management is characterised as that of a property rights regime. Several instruments have had decisive roles in improving economic efficiencies, securing effective and equitable cost recoveries, and abating conflicts between non-agricultural sectors, under the legislative framework that prohibits explicit trading in water rights. Each LID (voluntary farmers’ group) is entitled with water rights and is responsible for the management of its irrigation water. More than the marginal cost recovery is secured and effective water use is expected at the same time. The area pricing commonly applied in the LID management is supported, taking into considerations the technical aspects and transaction costs. The LIDs, in some cases, conserve watershed areas for the purpose of stable water flow to be extracted. Facing the occasions of serious water shortage the government provides quasi-markets in water, realising intersectoral transfers between non-agricultural sectors, and among LIDs, to improve economic efficiencies. Serious water shortages take place only once every ten years on average, in limited areas and during limited periods. The community-like decision making of water allocation in the quasi-markets would help to abate the social conflicts. The permanent transfer of water rights is also managed. The Japanese systems of agricultural water management could be leading examples for developing countries in the monsoon climate, where small holdings of paddy field agriculture dominate.
  • Water Quantity and Quality Issues in Mediterranean Agriculture
    The high demand of water resources for irrigation purposes is the cause of significant water quantity and quality problems in Mediterranean countries. The reliance of the Water Framework Directive on water pricing may fail in these countries, since water pricing is quite complex to implement in irrigated agriculture, efficiency of water pricing is questionable, and its political acceptability remains to be seen. This calls for alternative Directive instruments, such as the re-allocation of water from off-stream use by agricultural, urban and industrial users to environmental uses both in aquifers and streams, and also in the coastal wetlands. Pollution control instruments such as ambient quality standards and pollution emission limits are also needed. The heated policy debate that has been taking place in Spain over ways to solve water scarcity and resource degradation highlights the difficulties involved in achieving sustainable management of water resources, because of the conflicting interests of diverse stakeholders, such as regions, economic sectors and political and environmental groups. This study presents empirical results on the assessment of alternatives to overcome water scarcity in south-eastern Spain, and also a ranking of abatement measures for agricultural pollution control. These empirical results question water pricing as an efficient or even feasible instrument to allocate irrigation water or to curb pollution. Government water authorities, environmental NGOs and international organisations should look carefully at the implications of sound empirical research that takes into account the underlying biophysical processes and the complex spatial, dynamic and social issues involved in the design of water policies. Water and pollution markets, while difficult to implement, appear to be a much more efficient and feasible policy approach than water pricing. Even the current command and control water policies that most countries have in place seem to be more appropriate for irrigation management than water pricing.
  • Assessing the Feasibility of Water Quality Trading to Address Agricultural Sources of Pollution in Canada
    This paper reports on a study exploring the feasibility of water quality trading to address pollution from agricultural non-point sources in Canada and the potential role of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in such initiatives. The paper provides brief background material on water quality trading and presents the main findings organised around biogeochemical considerations, regulatory/policy considerations, and key design aspects of trading programmes, including roles of stakeholders and government. Preliminary findings indicate that there are no strong legal or regulatory barriers at the provincial or federal level to the development of trading systems in Canada.
  • Nutrient Trading
    The over-enrichment of rivers and estuaries by excessive levels of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, is a persistent and growing water quality problem around the world. Even though there have been significant improvements in water quality, most of these improvements have resulted from regulating point sources – industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities; today the predominant source of nutrients is non-point sources, especially agricultural and urban runoff. Innovative solutions are needed to provide incentives for non-point sources, whose nutrient discharges are difficult to regulate, to reduce their nutrient contributions. One such solution is nutrient trading. Trading involves setting a goal for the total amount of nutrients entering streams and rivers within a watershed and allowing sources, both point and non-point, to trade nutrient reduction credits in order to meet the local and regional water quality goals. Nutrient trading is being explored and implemented as a viable mechanism to reduce nutrient pollution in a number of areas in the U.S. and internationally. To facilitate the establishment of these markets, we have developed an on-line marketplace, NutrientNet, for point and non-point sources to estimate their nutrient loads and achievable reductions, and provide a marketplace for trades to occur and a registry that allows trades to be tracked.
  • Can Water Allocation Buy-back Schemes be Equitable for Impacted Communities?
    Some communities are being impacted by reductions in the access to water resources through market place water trade or through statutory water planning processes. This is often complicated by emotional issues as water moves from agriculture to the industrial or urban sectors or to the environment. Popular wisdom suggests that structural adjustment will occur if water allocations are purchased, and while this might adequately compensate the holder of the water licence, does it adequately deal with the broader community impacts?
  • China's Agricultural Water Policy Reforms
    The population, food, resources and the environment have been under high pressure for a long period of time in China. The water supply and demand situation is serious. It is estimated that China’s population will peak at 1.6 billion in 2030, and this will increase demand for agricultural products, and for agricultural water as well. Increasing industrial and domestic water use will further affect agricultural water supplies. So China’s agricultural water system is facing great challenges. In such a severe situation, the Chinese government actively tests agricultural water use policy reforms to guarantee the basic agricultural water supplies and farmers’ benefits, in order to support sustainable agricultural development and secure grain production with limited water resources.
  • Developing Economic Arrangements for Water Resources Management – The Potential of Stakeholder-oriented Water Valuation
    As water is increasingly recognised as a scarce resource, the use of economic arrangements for water resources management seems increasingly promising. Experiences show that economic arrangements can contribute to a more efficient use of water resources, but only if specific conditions are met, related to a well-functioning institutional framework and regulations that ensure that the use of economic arrangements is balanced with broader societal objectives. One of the remaining questions is how to replicate the existing cases where economic arrangements are successfully used in water resources management, in other areas where the conditions seem promising. Therefore, this paper reviews three cases in the USA, Ecuador and Australia where economic arrangements have been successfully applied, focusing on the processes that have characterised their evolution. Based on these cases, it is concluded that stakeholder-oriented valuation can offer useful support for the development of economic arrangements for water resources management, and an approach for such stakeholder-oriented water valuation is briefly outlined and illustrated.
  • Challenges of Water for Food, People and Environment – ICID's Initiative on "Country Policy Support Programme"
    Water is increasingly becoming scarce with ever rising and unabated growth rates of population, especially in developing and least-developed countries. Global food security can be assured only when a sizeable number of countries with a large population in these parts of the world can address to a meaningful extent their own national food security, if there is enough scope with available land and water.
  • The Spanish Programme of Improvement and Modernisation of Traditional Irrigation Systems
    The need for the improvement and modernisation of Spanish irrigated areas is easily understood when some of their technical characteristics are taken into account. One of them gives a good idea of the problem: one third of the Spanish irrigated area is more than a century old. The improvement and modernisation programme attempts to correct this situation, which burdens the competitiveness of the irrigated agriculture and causes environmental concerns, and this programme aims to upgrade irrigation schemes and increase the irrigation efficiency up to 70%. Other objectives are water savings, upgrading technologies, decreasing diffuse pollution, improving farmers’ quality of life … To carry out such a programme, a great effort of co-ordination and co-operation among public administrations and stakeholders has been expended. This effort has led to a high state of implementation at present.
  • Balancing Consumptive and Environmental Water Use – An Australian Perspective
    Australia is the driest permanently inhabited continent. With annual rainfall of less than 600 millimetres across 80 per cent of the land and drought a regular feature of the Australian climate, the development of water resources in regional Australia has made a significant contribution to national wealth, underpinning the development of primary industries as well as cities and towns. Settlement and economic growth has relied upon large-scale damming, diversion, pumping and drainage of surface waters, reclamation and loss of wetlands and extraction of groundwater for irrigation, stock, domestic and industrial use. Many of Australia’s waters and water-dependent ecosystems have suffered degradation, including declining water quality, habitat loss, salinisation and loss of biodiversity. Balancing the needs of the environment — including the flows required to maintain and restore healthy rivers — with water allocation for consumptive users, is a major task facing Australian governments and communities. This paper reflects on the co-operative, intergovernmental responses in Australia to increase the efficiency of water use and improve the sustainability and productivity of the agricultural sector, while promoting the health of river and groundwater systems. Case studies, including from the Murray-Darling Basin and Great Barrier Reef catchment, illustrate approaches taken by Australian policymakers for policy setting and programme delivery to achieve these multiple objectives.
  • Meeting Environmental Outcomes
    One of the main river management goals in the Murray Darling Basin is to strengthen the link between the river and wetland environments by augmenting natural high flow events with synchronised releases from storages. However, the volume, and timing of release, of water resources required to meet this goal is highly uncertain. An environmental planning framework is developed that generates well specified demand for environmental water and a set of high flow release rules. The framework provides clearly specified environmental objectives, giving rise to measurable performance, that are met at the lowest possible resource costs. The problem is specified as a constrained cost minimisation where the constraints define the characteristics of a successful high flow event. An optimal water release strategy is determined using a genetic algorithm. The approach is applied to a case study in the central reaches of the Murrumbidgee River and linked to a hydrological model of the entire river system. This link allows the systematic exploration of how alternative environmental objectives and release strategies affect the river system. The cost minimisation framework allows the costs of alternative strategies to be compared and options to reduce those costs to be explored.
  • Paddy Field Characteristics in Water Use
    Typical arguments at international water fora advocate a competitive relation between agricultural water use and other water use, including for ecosystems. This premise is generally applicable to the discussion on irrigation in arid and semi-arid regions where water is constantly scarce. However, it is unsuitable for humid regions such as the Asian monsoon region where paddy rice culture has been developed for thousands of years, using ample natural water from rainfall, including flooded water and artificially irrigated water from various water sources such as streams, ponds and rivers. The inundated water in paddy fields and flowing water in irrigation and drainage canals serves as a network of wetlands and waterways to create another excellent secondary natural environment outside the river. Furthermore, paddy fields stretching along a river serve as a retardant reservoir that at once receives outflow from the mountainous hinterlands and irrigated water drawn from the river, and that gradually supplies the water to groundwater aquifers and the downstream river. This paper, in the context of the impact of irrigation on the environment, reviewing studies and reports of recent years on quantifying hydrological characteristics on a basin scale and identifying services for secondary natural environment in Japan, shows the unique natural features and cultural climate in paddy field irrigation in humid regions contrasting with those in irrigation in arid and semi-arid regions. It also describes international activities among rice growing countries, regions, international organisations and research institutions, namely the INWEPF, and the Japanese policy direction "Shifting to agriculture, thinking much of preservation of the environment", and gives recommendations for future challenges.
  • Irrigation Sustainability in the Land Use/Soil System in South Italy
    The optimisation of water use in agriculture is a key factor in rural development and agri-environmental management. The full utilisation of the available water means the possibility of enlarging the irrigated areas and reducing the environmental impact of water use. The irrigation sustainability evaluation in Objective 1 Italian Regions, taking into specific consideration the interaction between irrigated land use, irrigation soil suitability and three different irrigation techniques, is one of the supports to water resources management. The methodological approach, based on the use of GIS (Geographic Information System) technology to integrate different data typologies and sources, and on the development of an irrigation efficiency index (IEff), allows estimation of the inefficiencies in m3 of wastewater.
  • Catchment-Sensitive Farming
    Diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA) is a significant contributor to the longterm degradation of UK rivers, lakes and groundwaters — 70 % of nitrates and 44 % of phosphorus loads in UK surface waters comes from agriculture. Within the EC, the key driver for tackling DWPA is the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The paper discusses the approach being taken in the UK to meet the challenging targets set by WFD through Catchment-Sensitive Farming (CSF). The challenge is to identify appropriate and most cost-effective measures for tackling the impact of farming on the environment while ensuring, in the long term, a sustainable farming industry. This paper details the current policies in place including action under the EC Nitrates Directive, Environmental Stewardship Schemes under CAP and activity to encourage early voluntary action by farmers (CSF Delivery project). Details of the complementary work being taken forward on the use of other policy instruments, such as regulation and analysis on development of an effective package of policy measures for tackling DWPA, is also discussed.
  • Tool for Monitoring and Evaluating the On-farm Environment Management and Nutrient Use on Finnish Cattle Farms
    Diffuse water pollution from agriculture (DWPA) is a significant contributor to the longterm degradation of UK rivers, lakes and groundwaters — 70 % of nitrates and 44 % of phosphorus loads in UK surface waters comes from agriculture. Within the EC, the key driver for tackling DWPA is the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The paper discusses the approach being taken in the UK to meet the challenging targets set by WFD through Catchment-Sensitive Farming (CSF). The challenge is to identify appropriate and most cost-effective measures for tackling the impact of farming on the environment while ensuring, in the long term, a sustainable farming industry. This paper details the current policies in place including action under the EC Nitrates Directive, Environmental Stewardship Schemes under CAP and activity to encourage early voluntary action by farmers (CSF Delivery project). Details of the complementary work being taken forward on the use of other policy instruments, such as regulation and analysis on development of an effective package of policy measures for tackling DWPA, is also discussed.Nitrogen and phosphorus balances as well as the Usability Classification of Waters are used as national indicators to monitor the trends in nutrient use and their effects on the environment. In addition to national rules, regulations and actions, voluntary approaches to minimise nutrient leaching as well as more specific, farm-level indicators have been developed. One example of such approaches is the voluntary Cattle Farm Environmental Auditing Tool (CFEAT), which helps a farmer to optimise and benchmark certain farm management activities on the farm level in order to achieve more environmentallyfriendly management practices. CFEAT has been created and developed by the Association of Rural Advisory Centres (ProAgria ARAC), which is a non-governmental agricultural expert organisation in Finland. CFEAT helps farmers to classify and evaluate their normal, day-to-day cultivation activities (nutrient and manure use, tillage) and animal husbandry. More emphasis is given to activities which have the most beneficial effects on the environment and animal welfare and which go beyond the mandatory level. Evaluation is carried out together with a ProAgria ARAC adviser and the results, combined with farm-level quality or environment systems, help farmers to find concrete measures and targets for developing farm management practices. The use of CFEAT started already in 1995. The number of dairy and cattle farms evaluated by means of CFEAT by 2005 is 1337, which is about 1% of the total number of dairy and cattle farms in Finland, but the number has been rising steadily. The results concerning nutrient leaching from arable area are promising: the nitrogen effluent has decreased, on average, by 4-15% and solid phosphorus by 5-13% as a result of the introduction of better and more efficient methods for the management of nutrients and use and handling of livestock manure. The load of soluble phosphorus is about the same as before.
  • Water and Soil Management System for Water Conservation in a Watershed
    Until now, there are no ways for sustainable water use and water resource protection from pollution applicable to all of the countries, but water conservation and sustainable use of water should be a supreme work for each country if we think of a life for descendants and a good environment for human beings. Assuming that these are the latest goals for sustainable agriculture, researchers in Korea having farms of small size and complex topography are attempting to introduce various systems for water and soil conservation. Water retaining capacity per ha of paddy fields in Korea was 5 times larger than that of upland, 3.5 times over forest area and 2 times over grassland. The total water retaining capacity on paddy fields was estimated at 23.8 billion tons for 1146 thousand ha in total, considering the present topographical condition. This quantity of water storage was equal to 47.6 times the amount of water kept in Youngweol Dam, which can store 0.5 billion ton year-1and for whose construction one billion dollars was taken. Therefore, the most appropriate type of farming in Korea, located in the Asia monsoon belt with heavy rain, was paddy rice farming. Although water use in paddy fields was larger than in uplands, putting water into paddy land played an important role for energy equilibrium through circulation between air heated in cities and that of surrounding rural areas. In the case of water quality, a new approach and concept considering land use, including paddy fields that are covering 61% of arable lands, is required to improve water quality contaminated by agricultural pollutants in Korea. This could be possible through a pollution load evaluation system, classification of watersheds by topographical characteristics & mother rocks, sub-classification of arable lands, assessment of erosion potential and a possibility of site-specific BMP (Best Management Practice) application in the field.
  • Institutional Overview from an Australian Perspective – With Particular Reference to the Murray-Darling Basin
    Water is especially precious in Australia, the world’s driest inhabited continent. When negotiating the Australian Constitution, the states chose to secure the sovereign right ‘for reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation’. Each state developed its own arrangements for sharing of the waters within its jurisdiction, and then became aware of the interdependencies for shared river systems like the Murray-Darling, which spans six jurisdictions. The Murray-Darling Basin Commission exists to facilitate and promote effective planning and management for the equitable, efficient, and sustainable use of the water, land, and other environmental resources. In the past, the sovereign governments have chosen to progress through the commission the sharing of waters (including the implementation of the cap on diversions), salinity management, and the introduction of interstate water trade. Current priorities (in the context of the National Water Initiative and policies within jurisdictions) include active management of water and works to achieve environmental outcomes at internationally significant sites along the River Murray, and development of policy to address emerging issues such as climate change and groundwater diversion. In the future, the commission will continue to support the jurisdictions as they contemplate evolution of water sharing arrangements, and the development of more sophisticated integrated environmental management approaches, towards a more sustainable basin.
  • New Zealand's Sustainable Water Programme of Action
    In 2003, New Zealand commenced a Sustainable Water Programme of Action, under the umbrella of the Sustainable Development Programme of Action. New Zealand’s management of freshwater occurs within the framework of the Resource Management Act 1991, which focuses on the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. Gaps in the Act framework, and its implementation, have become apparent as New Zealand’s freshwater resource comes under pressure from competition between uses, users and the differing values New Zealanders hold for freshwater. These gaps are challenges for the Sustainable Water Programme of Action. There is also concern that diffuse agricultural discharges are inadequately addressed and are having negative impacts on lowland streams and rivers. New approaches may be needed to assist the development of water allocation frameworks that address the pressures. Public consultation on ideas for improving water management occurred between December 2004 and March 2005. A focus for the next stage of the Sustainable Water Programme of Action is to assess new tools, approaches and initiatives to better manage water allocation and quality issues.
  • Italian Policy Framework for Water in Agriculture
    The paper describes the evolution of the institutional and legal context of the Italian water system during the last decade, as well as political strategies followed by the Italian Government to reach a sustainable water use according to European Union guidelines.
  • The Spanish National Irrigation Plan
    The climatic conditions in the major part of the Spanish territory belong to the Mediterranean type. That means medium to high temperatures with warm and extended summer seasons in the eastern and southern regions, while in the inland, for instance in the Central "Meseta", differences between winter and summer temperatures are wider than in coastal regions. For that reason, it can be found a wide range of types of irrigation systems, conditioned by factors like their geographical situation in the national territory: not only different crops, yields and watering methods but diverse structural, economic and social aspects. Nevertheless, the common characteristic of these regions is an uncertain and low rainfall regime added to frequent and long periods of drought. Historically, in a great part of rural zones irrigation has played a critical role for rural population to avoid poverty and sometimes starvation. Today, there are still in Spain a great number of rural zones in which no other options for development are significant except irrigation-based agriculture. The disappearance of agriculture in these rural zones will imply depopulation and the abandonment of the land with negative environmental impacts and a great imbalance in the population territorial distribution. But in many cases, this type of agriculture has negative environmental impacts too: very low efficiency of water use, due to old distribution networks and flooding irrigation methods; over-exploited aquifers and diffuse pollution. During the last decades, agriculture in many countries has to face challenges such as: decreasing subsidies, compliance with an environmental legislation more and more restrictive, severe restrictions to the use of water and, at the same time, the need for farmers to produce competitive goods in a global market. The implementation of the new water policy approaches and measures, e.g. water pricing, must take into account all these circumstances and its consequences to the future of the agriculture in many rural zones of Spain. The Spanish National Irrigation Plan (PNR) aims to help the irrigation-based agriculture to face all these challenges, developing five programmes and building a new financing system tailored to the different irrigation systems and reinforcing the relationship between administrations and stakeholders, mainly the irrigating farmers’ communities.
  • Progress with Water Allocation Reform in South Africa
    In implementing South Africa’s National Water Act (36 of 1998), the Water Allocation Reform (WAR) programme is a proactive intervention to address race and gender imbalances created in the water sector as a result of historical discriminatory legislation in the country. Its conceptualisation and implementation fits firmly within the ambit of integrated water resources management (IWRM); however, its focus is primarily sociopolitical, dealing with the re-distributive aspects of water allocation reform. WAR has a formally legislated political mandate and its scale is national. Although it is primarily socio-political in its focus, a wide range of specialist considerations supports it. For these reasons, the programme is multidisciplinary and complex. Success with its implementation will result in greater socio-political and socio-economic stability for the country, and support the contention that socio-centric elements of IWRM are equally, if not more, important than techno-centric ones in particular instances. The paper describes an IWRM implementation approach with socio-politics at its forefront, one that is purposeful and process-driven as a potential recipe for success. In addition, potential risks and threats are identified and their likely impacts briefly highlighted.
  • The Challenge of Reconciling Water and Agricultural Policies – The Role of Public Hearings
    In recent years, the Québec government has introduced new measures that significantly reinforce frameworks for both water protection and agricultural activities. In late 2002, it adopted the Québec Water Policy, which undertakes to introduce a watershed-based management strategy for cleaning up watercourses and intensifying agricultural clean-up efforts. Agricultural policies have also been undergoing important transformations in Québec over the past few years. The Regulation Respecting Agricultural Operations has reinforced controls over agricultural pollution, while the policy directions for the sustainable development of hog farming, adopted in 2004, have led to the implementation of new measures and requirements favouring the integration of sustainable development principles in pig farming. These changes were legitimised by extensive public consultations conducted by a specialised office for public hearings on the environment, the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE). Through these consultations, BAPE provided advice and recommendations to guide government decision-making with a view to sustainable development. It held comprehensive public hearings on water management in 1999–2000 and on sustainable development for hog farming in 2002–2003. These two consultation processes were the key events on which current reforms are based, and they have contributed to meeting the challenge of reconciling water and agricultural policies.
  • Sustainable Nitrogen Management in Agriculture
    In order to reduce the pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources, the Walloon region has established a Programme of Sustainable Nitrogen Management in Agriculture. This legislation encompasses all compulsory measures mentioned in the European Directive known as ‘Nitrate Directive’ (Directive 91/676/EEC), but its scope is larger, as it defines obligations regarding storage and management of livestock manure outside vulnerable zones. The Walloon legislation is the result of a long negotiation process and represents a common understanding between the Public powers, the farmer’s unions and the water producers, purifiers and distributors. It was launched in October, 2002. Three complementary levels are concerned: the field, the whole farm and the region. At field level, the objective is to reduce nitrate losses through leaching during winter. The farmer must put in place some "good agriculture practices", particularly regarding authorised doses and periods of application of nitrogen fertilisers. At the whole farm level the farmer must maintain a balance between the organic nitrogen compound to be applied and his "land application capacity" (i.e.: the applicable quantity legally authorised). Every year, the "soil link rate" (LS) of each farm is calculated by the government administration, taking into account several factors: the number of animals on the farm, average values of nitrogen production per animal category, agricultural land surface available and authorised doses of nitrogen organic compound applicable. In vulnerable zones, organic nitrogen application is limited to 80 kg N/ha on arable land and 210 kg N/ha on grassland. Outside these vulnerable zones, the amount of livestock manure applied is limited to 120 kg N/ha on arable land and 210 kg N/ha on grassland. The organic nitrogen in excess of the "land application capacity" must be transferred to other farms that are able to value it.
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