Irrigated Agriculture as an Adaptation Strategy Against Climate Change: A Review

  •  F. Rosales-Martínez    
  •  L. Casanova-Pérez    
  •  C. Flota-Bañuelos    
  •  S. Fraire-Cordero    
  •  V. Rosales-Martínez    


Agriculture evolved to increase crop productivity and diminish plague effects. As a negative outcome of the human footprint by agriculture and industrialization, overall economic practices have led to substantial alterations in the environment (i.e., greenhouse gas production, elevated atmospheric temperature, more extreme climatic events), collectively known as climate change. The fast-changing environment due to climate change is most common in the tropics, the impacts of this phenomenon are perceived in different regions of the world, where most agricultural activity occurs. These facts reinforce the requirement for diminishing climate change producing activities and implementation of adaptive practices for long-term agricultural productivity and sustainability. Albeit may sound counter-intuitive, agroecological systems and traditional knowledge may provide alternatives to mitigate climate change effects in the context of agriculture. This review comprehensively describes the development of irrigated agriculture, major effects of climate change on irrigation, and further explores alternative practices stemming from agroecological systems or traditional knowledge, which could improve agricultural productivity and sustainability. Among some strategies, it is proposed to establish climate risk planning, agricultural producers must modify the application of their inputs to adjust to the new water and thermal requirements; implement conservation techniques to reduce the loss of soil moisture and thus ensure the development of crops in a drier and warmer environment as indicated by climate change projections. Likewise, the implementation of varieties tolerant to water stress is one more adaptation action that would allow continuing cultivating in lower regions, where the largest irrigated area is concentrated and which would receive the greatest impact from an increase in temperature. In this way, it will be necessary to implement new approaches, technologies and policies to learn from the past, following the new climate scenarios, conserving and making rational use of natural resources.

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