Best practice in Water Management - Examples from India, Spain and Germany
On the occasion of World Water Day 2023, Naturland presents best practice examples, all of which aim to make water use in agriculture more sustainable: Vijay Kumar supports smallholder farmers in India, Rafael Alonso Aguilera manages an organic olive grove in Spain and Dr. Wolfgang Patzwahl supports a project on water management systems in viticulture in Germany.
Lea Moog, Naturland e.V.
What is community managed Natural Farming? Community managed Natural Farming in Andhra Pradesh is a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, and build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density.
Principles of community managed Natural Farming:
With the practice of community managed Natural Farming various positive effects on water can be observed:
In addition to collecting and storing rainwater, the farm has applied something innovative to the soil of the olive grove: "When we planned the farm, we made a hole of one cubic metre [per tree] and provided Isolite, which is a porous ceramic and polymer that absorbs 100 times its volume in water. Therefore, when we irrigate, we recharge the kind of sponge that is there. We recharge it and it no longer releases water by contact or evaporation, it can only be absorbed by the root of a plant." The farm uses a subterranean drip irrigation system which allows for better water dosing by supplying it in small, measured amounts. By irrigating underground, more water is saved and used more efficiently as evaporation is avoided and a wet spot is created closer to the roots. "For irrigation, we have an algorithm. We have our own patented irrigation system that evaluates environmental humidity, temperature, radiation and wind speed. If we say a thousand cubic meters, the algorithm distributes the thousand cubic meters at the times when the olive grove needs it most. The irrigation equipment is all buried at 50 centimetres so that there is no breakage or evaporation, and it provides the water in localized areas, in the place that we think is suitable for the living root."
In addition to the efficient irrigation system, the farm implements other measures to keep water in the soil in the best possible way: Minimal tillage to avoid runoff, plant covers that favor infiltration into the soil, covers of crop residues on the surface that prevent evaporation, and organic matter that keeps the soil moist for a longer period. With all these measures the farm “Oro del Desierto” was able to reduce water consumption considerably. Normally, the average consumption of water in olive groves is around 5,000 cubic metres per hectare and year. At “Oro del Desierto” the water consumption is as low as 1,000 cubic metres per year.
Key points of climate change:
This results in an increased stress on buffer systems in soil and plants.
The effects in vineyard and wine:
Lea Moog is the contact person for Naturland members in Spain, Greece and international livestock farms. She is also involved in the implementation of Naturland's standards on water and offers training and workshops on the subject.