PAYSAGE  d'auvergne, région de  POLYCULTURE - ELEVAGE .. © INRA, TOILLON Sylvie

Adaptation of natural resources and territories

International Action AICHA - Adaptation of Irrigated Agriculture to Climate Change in India

In the context of climate change and of agriculture increasingly relying on groundwater irrigation, it is crucial to develop reliable methods for sustainability assessment of current and alternative agricultural systems. The project will develop an integrated model (in agronomy, hydrogeology and economics) and scenarios of evolution of agricultural systems and water management policies will be tested both at the farm scale and the watershed scale in the case of an experimental watershed in Peninsular India. A methodology combining remote sensing, field surveys and inverse modelling for retrieving spatially distributed relevant biophysical parameters, determining factors of cropping systems and socio-economics will be developed. A farmer decision model will be developed to investigate the farming system adaptability to changing climate and economic context.

Updated on 03/02/2015
Published on 10/02/2014

The AICHA project is one of the first to combine both economic impacts on the crop production and hydrogeological regime and hydro-economic feedbacks on the future land use and productivity. This is accomplished by using a state-of-the-art suite of data gathering, new process understanding, climate change impacts and integrated modelling of the crop – groundwater – economic system.

The main novelty of the project is to propose a multidisciplinary approach, involving hydrology, agronomy and socio-economics for studying the impact of climate change on cropping systems and water resources in the context of South India, where irrigated agriculture relies on groundwater. The main expected results will the proposition of innovative scenarios of land use and cropping systems in this context.

Bassin de Berambadi, Karnataka. © INRA, Alban Thomas
Bassin de Berambadi, Karnataka © INRA, Alban Thomas

Regarding biophysical aspects, the main novelty is to develop an integrated agro-hydrological model capable of accounting for the direct effects of land use on groundwater resources as well as the feedback effects. Innovative strategies for data acquisition and model calibration using remote sensing will be developed. The model will be able to account for adaptative behavior of farmers in their irrigation strategies by including spatialised decisions rules for irrigation.

Regarding economic aspects, the first novelty is to bring together the issue of optimal water management in a context of increasing scarcity, the role of innovative cropping systems, and the relationship with water availability, into an integrated modelling approach. The second novelty is to consider local conflicts around water and land use in the context of climate change and modified cropping systems. Expected impacts are both in terms of scientific and technical advances, and in terms of contributions in building the infrastructure and knowledge for a stronger ability within INRA to respond to decision makers regarding water management. This means that, although the project is applied to an international setting (India), a significant part of its scientific outputs will be available for application to the French case.

This project at a small catchment scale provides a unique case of evaluating the required field data and surveys, choice of remote sensing data products, information flow between the crop, groundwater and economic models. The results from this project will be useful for scaling-up the approach to basin-scales dominated by groundwater irrigation. Furthermore, the project has a genuine potential for better structuring research between agronomy, hydrology, economics and applied mathematics of decision making. It will provide an opportunity to develop procedures and build up experiences on linking agronomical, hydrological and economic models within the INRA modeling platform RECORD, regarding in particular optimization methods and inverse problems.

Even if the project focuses on conditions prevailing in tropical environment, the networking built for this project will constitute a strong potential for addressing similar questions in temperate regions. Such questions include:

  • the modeling of hydrological transfers and their relationship with irrigation practices
  • the interlinking of economic crop-choice models with agronomic crop-growth simulators
  • the relevance, efficiency and acceptability of alternative policies for managing water resources at the watershed level.

More information:

See also AICHA poster:  poster AICHA