Environmental Management

, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp 958–971 | Cite as

Farmers’ Options to Address Water Scarcity in a Changing Climate: Case Studies from two Basins in Mediterranean Chile

  • Lisandro RocoEmail author
  • David Poblete
  • Francisco Meza
  • George Kerrigan


Irrigated agriculture in Mediterranean areas faces tremendous challenges because of its exposure to hydroclimatic variability, increasing competition for water from different sectors, and the possibility of a climatic change. In this context, efficient management of water resources emerges as a critical issue. This requires the adoption of technological innovations, investment in infrastructure, adequate institutional arrangements, and informed decision makers. To understand farmers’ perceptions and their implementation of climate change adaptation strategies with regards to water management, primary information was captured in the Limarí and Maule river basins in Chile. Farmers identified stressors for agriculture; climate change, droughts, and lack of water appeared as the most relevant stressors compared to others productive, economic, and institutional factors; revealing a rising relevance of climate related factors. While most producers perceived climate changes in recent years (92.9 %), a significant proportion (61.1 %) claim to have experienced drought, whereas only a fraction (31.9 %) have implemented a strategy to deal with this situation. Identified actions were classified in four groups: investments for water accumulation, modernization of irrigation systems, rationalization of water use, and partnership activities. Using a multinomial logit model these strategies were related to socioeconomic and productive characteristics. Results show that gender and farm size are relevant for investments, implementation and improvement of irrigation systems. For all the strategies described, access to weather information was a relevant element. The study provides empirical evidence of a recent increase in the importance assigned to climate factors by producers and adaptation options that can be supported by agricultural policy.


Agricultural production Chile Drought Multinomial logit Stressors Water scarcity 



This work was developed under the project “Support system for decision making to reduce vulnerability in irrigated agriculture facing climate change and variability”, code N° D10i1051, founded by FONDEF Chile and implemented by Centro Interdisciplinario de Cambio Global UC. The authors thank the farmers who answered the survey. The authors also thank the feedback obtained from Mrs. Melanie Oertel, The LACEEP 10+ Workshop (México, July 2015) and The Workshop on Water Scarcity of Exceed-Swindon Program (Argentine, September 2015).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisandro Roco
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Poblete
    • 2
  • Francisco Meza
    • 3
  • George Kerrigan
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Forestry, Faculty of Agriculture and ForestryUniversidad Católica del MauleTalcaChile
  2. 2.School of Civil EngineeringUniversidad de ValparaísoValparaísoChile
  3. 3.Centro Interdisciplinario de Cambio Global, Departamento de Ecosistemas y Medioambiente, Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería ForestalPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  4. 4.Independent Consultant on Agricultural EconomicsTalcaChile

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