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  • Author or Editor: Stefania De Pascale x
  • HortTechnology x
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Irrigation is a vital component of the world agriculture. It is practiced worldwide on ≈270 million hectares and it consents to produce 40% of our total food. Agricultural water consumption accounts for 70% of total freshwater use. The competition for this precious resource is increasing tremendously. Therefore, it is becoming critically important to optimize agricultural water use efficiency (WUE) defined as the ratio of crop yield over the applied water. This requires a shift from maximizing productivity per unit of land area to maximizing productivity per unit of water consumed. To maximize WUE it is necessary to conserve water and to promote maximal crop growth. The former requires minimizing losses through runoff, seepage, evaporation, and transpiration by weeds. The latter objective may be accomplished by planting high-yielding crops/cultivars well adapted to local soil and climatic conditions. Optimizing growing conditions by proper timing of planting and harvesting, tillage, fertilization, and pest control also contribute to improve crop growth. Most of these techniques refer to proven technology, whose implementation and/or fine-tuning in current farming systems may tremendously improve water management efficiency. In this paper, after discussing the importance of irrigation in agriculture, we will introduce basic concepts that define crop WUE and will finally review the means to improve irrigation efficiency in field vegetable crop production.

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