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Assessing sustainability of agricultural water saving in an arid area with shallow groundwater

Xue, Jingyuan, Huo, Zailin, Huang, Quanzhong, Wang, Fengxin, Boll, Jan, Huang, Guanhua, Qu, Zhongyi
Irrigation and drainage 2019 v.68 no.2 pp. 205-217
case studies, financial economics, groundwater, irrigation, semiarid zones, social benefit, vegetation, water conservation, water shortages, water use efficiency
Agricultural water‐saving practices are important in order to cope with the increasing shortage of water resources in arid and semi‐arid areas. With water use efficiency and productivity being improved, however, more intense regional agricultural water‐saving practices may induce the reduction of vegetation coverage and also groundwater decline. We assess the sustainability of regional agricultural water‐saving practices in an arid area based on the analytic hierarchy process (APH). By calculating water use efficiency, economic benefit, social benefit and eco‐environmental effect, the sustainability of regional agricultural water savings can be comprehensively evaluated and classified using different sustainability evaluation scoring standards. As a case study, the method was used in the Jiefangzha irrigation district (JFID), and the sustainability of agricultural water saving was assessed from 1990 to 2009. The results indicate that economic benefit and social water‐saving awareness have increased dramatically since 1998. Water use efficiency and productivity have increased continuously, while the declining groundwater has had negative effects on vegetation coverage. Since 1998, the sustainability state shows an increasing trend with its all values above the alert line (0.4), and most of the sustainability values above the good line (0.6), which reveals a good condition of the sustainability of agricultural water savings in the JFID. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.