Campania: Encouraging the sustainable use of irrigation water in the region
Campania is a Southern Italian region whose flourishing agro-food industry makes it one of the leading regions in this sector in Italy, with agriculture covering 16% of its territory.
Within the Regional Administration of Campania, the Assessorship of Agriculture is in charge of measures to improve the economic return without compromising the environmental sustainability of agricultural production, together with the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy and other European Directives for this sector.
Subjective and empirical assessment of irrigation practices showed that water was used in excessive amounts, compared to the maximum needed to guarantee optimal yield. In the context of agricultural challenges brought about by climate change, the Agriculture Department needed to take innovative measures for informed water management as part of the Regional Irrigation Advisory Plan.
The Satellite Solution
Through “IrriSat” (www.consulenzairrigua.it), the Agriculture Department provides personalised irrigation information, based on high spatial resolution satellite data (10-20 m), on the actual irrigation needs of each plot managed by the farmer. This information, delivered every 7-10 days, indicates to farmers how much irrigation water to use, without compromising yield. In addition, farmers get a map of the development of the crop, indicating non-uniform growth due to irregularities in agronomic inputs (not only water, but also fertilisers) and soil heterogeneity.
The service is available to farmers and other water managers at all levels, who can subscribe for free, and receive the information through text messages, MMS or on the web.
In addition to providing the service, the Agriculture Department accompanies the programme with particular communication efforts to get an ever bigger number of farmers to subscribe, including through TV ad campaigns.
A post-evaluation of the application of the Regional Irrigation Advisory Plan since 2007 confirms a reduction of irrigation volumes, which has both direct and indirect economical and environmental benefits for farmers, water distribution bodies and local communities.
The service was extended from covering 400 ha in 2006 – the beginning of the programme — to 4200ha in 2010, i.e. 5% of the total irrigable areas in Campania. As a consequence, the cost of the service per unit area has decreased considerably.
“Offering personalised information in an easy-to-use and intuitive form has encouraged participation in the scheme and is contributing to the overall goals in terms of sustainable use of water resources.” Amedeo D’Antonio, Campania Region