Scarce water resources and priority irrigation schemes from agronomic crops

  • X. C. Cao
  • R. Shu
  • X. P. Guo
  • W. G. WangEmail author
Original Article


Global environmental change places unavoidable pressure on water resources and agronomic crop production systems. Irrigation development is a credible measure to alleviate the challenge of food safety under water shortages, but it needs sufficient basis. The aim of this study is to address the problem of balancing water scarcity with food requirements, which are the key components of water security in regions with population growth. Marginal water productivity (MWP) indices for irrigation water performance and productivity evaluation were established in the current study. Based on the analysis of the regional water-crop relationship and spatial differences of MWP in China, the priorities for developing irrigation areas in different types of regions are discussed in this study. The results show that high MWPs are mainly in semi-arid regions with precipitation (P) between 500 and 1000 mm, while low MWPs mostly occur in areas with P more than 1000 and less than 500 mm. The significance and spatial distribution patterns of MWP are different than those of conventional irrigation water use efficiency evaluation indices, so its role cannot be replaced for the real production capacity of irrigation water evaluation. The strategies for global environmental change adaptation suggested in this study are taking MWP for irrigation water productivity evaluation and the priority irrigation schemes for agronomic crop determination; increasing MWP by means of irrigation efficiency and crop variety improvement worldwide; and raising global food production through the expansion of irrigation area in the regions hold high MWP and abundant water resources.


Water use efficiency Marginal water productivity (MWP) Water resources management Irrigation 



This work is jointly funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51609065), the Social Science Fund of Jiangsu Province (17GLC013), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2018B12314), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project (2017M611681), and the Jiangsu Planned Projects for Postdoctoral Research Funds (1701087B). The authors also thank the editor and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback and suggestions, which substantially helped to improve this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • X. C. Cao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • R. Shu
    • 2
    • 3
  • X. P. Guo
    • 2
    • 3
  • W. G. Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Hydrology Water Resources and Hydraulic EngineeringHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Efficient Irrigation-Drainage and Agricultural Soil-Water Environment in Southern China of Ministry of EducationHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.College of Agricultural Sciences and EngineeringHohai UniversityNanjingChina

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