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Managing Water and Agroecosystems for Food Security

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Water protection, food production and ecosystem health are worldwide issues. Changes in the global water cycle are affecting human wellbeing in many places, while widespread land and ecosystem degradation, driven by poor agricultural practices, is seriously limiting food production. Understanding the links between ecosystems, water, and food production is important to the health of all three, and sustainably managing these connections is becoming increasingly necessary. This book shows how sustainable ecosystems, especially agroecosystems, are essential for water management and food production.

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1 Introduction

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1

Introduction

Eline Boelee,1* David Coates,2 Elizabeth Khaka,3 Petina L. Pert,4

Lamourdia Thiombiano,5 Sara J. Scherr,6 Simon Cook7 and

Luke Sanford8

1Water

Health, Hollandsche Rading, the Netherlands; 2Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Montreal, Canada; 3United Nations Environment

Programme (UNEP), Nairobi, Kenya; 4Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial

Research Organisation (CSIRO), Cairns, Queensland, Australia; 5Central Africa

Bureau, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Libreville,

Gabon; 6EcoAgriculture Partners, Washington, DC, USA; 7CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems, Colombo, Sri Lanka; 8International Water

Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka

Abstract

This chapter sets the stage for our book on Managing Water and Agroecosystems for Food

Security. It provides an introduction to the extent of food insecurity in the world and how this is further jeopardized by unsustainable food production. Water is a main constraint to sustainability because water use in agriculture has huge impacts on downstream ecosystems. Furthermore, degraded ecosystems are less capable of sustaining water flows. In this book the authors take an ecosystem approach to freshwater management for sustainable agroecosystems and food security, with an emphasis on technical options. They show how water and ecosystems can be managed in such a way that they are mutually supportive and contribute to sustainable food security and wealth.

 

2 Drivers and Challenges for Food Security

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Drivers and Challenges for Food Security

Jennie Barron,1* Rebecca E. Tharme2† and Mario Herrero3

1Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, UK and Stockholm Resilience

Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; 2The Nature Conservancy (TNC),

Buxton, UK; 3Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO),

St Lucia, Queensland, Australia

Abstract

At the global scale, humanity is increasingly facing rapid changes, and sometimes shocks, that are affecting the security of our food systems and the agroecosystems that are the ultimate sources of food. To plan and prepare for resilient food production and food security in a sustainable and efficient way, we are challenged to better understand the conditions and likely responses of these diverse agroecosystems under various drivers of change and scenarios of future trends. Among the many direct drivers and indirect pressures that exist or are emerging, the discussion in this chapter focuses on the main themes of drivers of demographic changes, globalization of economic and governance systems (including markets), and climate change. The current state of health of water and land resources, and of ecosystems and their services, are considered alongside these drivers, as these are critical determinants of the pathways with sufficient potential to move food-producing systems towards more sustainable production.

 

3 Water-related Ecosystem Services and Food Security

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Water-related Ecosystem Services and

Food Security

David Coates,1* Petina L. Pert,2 Jennie Barron,3 Catherine Muthuri,4

Sophie Nguyen-Khoa,5 Eline Boelee6 and Devra I. Jarvis7

1Secretariat

of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Montreal, Canada;

Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO, Ecosystem

Sciences, Cairns, Queensland, Australia; 3Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, UK and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm,

Sweden; 4World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya; 5World Water Council

(WWC), Marseille, France; 6Water Health, Hollandsche Rading, the Netherlands;

7Bioversity International, Rome, Italy

2Commonwealth

Abstract

The ecosystem setting of both agriculture and water provides a conceptual framework for managing the needs of agriculture for water and the impacts of water upon agriculture. Water underpins all benefits (ecosystem services) that ecosystems provide, including all agricultural production. The availability of water, in terms of both its quantity and quality, is also influenced heavily by ecosystem functioning. Understanding this relationship of water, ecosystems and their services with agriculture is at the heart of understanding, and therefore managing, water and food security. There are opportunities to move beyond seeing the agriculture–ecosystem–water interface as one of conflict and trade-offs, towards simultaneously achieving both increases in sustainable food production and improvements in the delivery of other ecosystem benefits by agriculture through more widespread adoption of ecosystem-based solutions. These concepts and approaches are explained briefly here as an introduction to understanding the interlinkages between ecosystem services, water and food security in subsequent chapters of the book.

 

4 Challenges to Agroecosystem Management

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Challenges to Agroecosystem Management

Petina L. Pert,1* Eline Boelee,2 Devra I. Jarvis,3 David Coates,4 Prem

Bindraban,5 Jennie Barron,6 Rebecca E. Tharme7 and Mario Herrero8

1Commonwealth

Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Cairns,

Queensland, Australia; 2Water Health, Hollandsche Rading, the Netherlands;

3Bioversity International, Rome, Italy; 4Secretariat of the Convention on Biological

Diversity (CBD), Montreal, Canada; 5World Soil Information (ISRIC) and Plant

Research International, Wageningen, the Netherlands; 6Stockholm Environment

Institute, University of York, UK and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm

University, Stockholm, Sweden; 7The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Buxton, UK;

8Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), St Lucia,

Queensland, Australia

Abstract

As growth in population, gross domestic product (GDP) and consumption continues, further demands are placed on land, water and other resources. The resulting degradation can threaten the food security of poor people in fragile environments, particularly those whose livelihoods rely largely on agricultural activities. The concept of diversified or multifunctional agroecosystems is a relatively recent response to the decline in the quality of the natural resource base. Today, the question of agricultural production has evolved from a purely technical issue to a more complex one characterized by social, cultural, political and economic dimensions. Multifunctional agroecosystems carry out a variety of ecosystem services, such as the regulation of soil and water quality, carbon sequestration, support for biodiversity and sociocultural services, as well as meeting consumers’ needs for food. In turn, these systems also rely on ecosystem services provided by adjacent natural ecosystems, including pollination, biological pest control, maintenance of soil structure and fertility, nutrient cycling and hydrological services. However, poor management practices in agroecosystems can also be the source of numerous disservices, including loss of wildlife habitat, nutrient runoff, sedimentation of waterways, greenhouse gas emissions, and pesticide poisoning of humans and non-target species. This chapter discusses the challenges to agroecosystem management, and how adopting a diversified approach will enable farmers to farm longer and more sustainably in an environment of greater uncertainty, in the face of climate change.

 

5 Water Use in Agroecosystems

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Water Use in Agroecosystems

Renate Fleiner,1* Delia Grace,2 Petina L. Pert,3 Prem Bindraban,4

Rebecca E. Tharme,5 Eline Boelee,6 Gareth J. Lloyd,7 Louise Korsgaard,7

Nishadi Eriyagama8 and David Molden1

1International

Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu,

Nepal; 2International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya;

3Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Cairns,

Queensland, Australia; 4World Soil Information (ISRIC) and Plant Research

International, Wageningen, the Netherlands; 5The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Buxton,

UK; 6Water Health, Hollandsche Rading, the Netherlands; 7UNEP–DHI Centre for

Water and Environment, Hørsholm, Denmark; 8International Water Management

Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka

Abstract

The integrated role of water in ecosystems and, in particular, in agroecosystems, as well as the multiple uses of water – across various sectors that have increasing demands, have been widely recognized. But regions and institutions are still struggling to resolve issues around water – be it scarcity, accessibility or degradation. Mostly, they are caught in conventional institutional and policy frameworks that have been set up based more on sectoral than on cross-sectoral principles, thus preventing them from achieving the ultimate goal of sustainability. This chapter analyses the current and future challenges related to water availability and water use for agriculture from this perspective. It looks at water quantity and quality, water infrastructure, and related governance and institutional aspects, using case studies from basins in different geographic regions.

 

6 Drylands

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Drylands

Elaine M. Solowey,1* Tilahun Amede,2 Alexandra Evans,3 Eline Boelee4 and Prem Bindraban5

1The

Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), Hevel Eilot, Israel; 2International

Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Maputo, Mozambique;

3Edge Grove School, Aldenham Village, Watford, UK; 4Water Health, Hollandsche

Rading, the Netherlands; 5World Soil Information (ISRIC) and Plant Research

International, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Abstract

Drylands are characterized by physical water scarcity, often associated with land degradation and desertification. Other factors that contribute to these problems include high population densities, unwise agricultural practices and overgrazing. However, while desert ecosystems are fragile and vulnerable and can collapse in the short term, given the right conditions and protection, these areas also have a great potential for recovery. Examples of the recovery of areas have led to the formation of counter paradigms and the emergence of a new understanding of drylands. This new understanding is founded on the recognition of the variability of these ecosystems from place to place and year to year, and of the influences of desert plants, animals and the agricultural practices of the people who live in drylands. This chapter defines both old and new paradigms, and discusses conditions that lead to non-sustainable situations and vulnerabilities. In addition, strategies are considered that can lead to proper land use and recovery.

 

7 Wetlands

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Wetlands

Max Finlayson,1* Stuart W. Bunting,2† Malcolm Beveridge,3

Rebecca E. Tharme4 and Sophie Nguyen-Khoa5

1Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS), Charles Sturt University, Albury, New

South Wales, Australia; 2Essex Sustainability Institute, University of Essex, Colchester,

UK; 3WorldFish, Lusaka, Zambia; 4The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Buxton, UK;

5World Water Council (WWC), Marseille, France

Abstract

After commencing with a summary of the current status, importance and productivity of natural wetlands, the chapter reviews the contribution of wetland ecological functions to sustaining vital ecosystem services. Wetlands are vulnerable to a range of anthropogenic pressures, notably land use change, disruption to regional hydrological regimes as a result of abstraction and impoundment, pollution and excessive nutrient loading, the introduction of invasive species and overexploitation of biomass, plants and animals. Natural wetlands have often been modified to accommodate agricultural and aquaculture production, or wetlands may be created in the process of establishing farming systems. Prospects for established practices, such as culturing fish in rice

 

8 Increasing Water Productivity in Agriculture

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Increasing Water Productivity in Agriculture

Katrien Descheemaeker,1* Stuart W. Bunting,2 Prem Bindraban,3

Catherine Muthuri,4 David Molden,5 Malcolm Beveridge,6

Martin van Brakel,7 Mario Herrero,8 Floriane Clement,9 Eline Boelee,10

Devra I. Jarvis11

1Plant

Production Systems, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands;

Sustainability Institute, University of Essex, Colchester, UK; 3World Soil

Information (ISRIC) and Plant Research International, Wageningen, the Netherlands;

4World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya; 5International Centre for

Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal; 6WorldFish, Lusaka,

Zambia; 7CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems, 2075, Colombo,

Sri Lanka; 8Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO),

St Lucia, Queensland, Australia; 9International Water Management Institute (IWMI),

Kathmandu, Nepal; 10Water Health, Hollandsche Rading, the Netherlands;

11Bioversity International, Rome, Italy

2Essex

Abstract

Increasing water productivity is an important element in improved water management for sustainable agriculture, food security and healthy ecosystem functioning. Water productivity is defined as the amount of agricultural output per unit of water depleted, and can be assessed for crops, trees, livestock and fish. This chapter reviews challenges in and opportunities for improving water productivity in socially equitable and sustainable ways by thinking beyond technologies, and fostering enabling institutions and policies. Both in irrigated and rainfed cropping systems, water productivity can be improved by choosing well-adapted crop types, reducing unproductive water losses and maintaining healthy, vigorously growing crops through optimized water, nutrient and agronomic management. Livestock water productivity can be increased through improved feed management and animal husbandry, reduced animal mortality, appropriate livestock watering and sustainable grazing management. In agroforestry systems, the key to success is choosing the right combination of trees and crops to exploit spatial and temporal complementarities in resource use. In aquaculture systems, most water is depleted indirectly for feed production, via seepage and evaporation from water bodies, and through polluted water discharge, and efforts to improve water productivity should be directed at minimizing those losses. Identifying the most promising options is complex and has to take into account environmental, financial, social and health-related considerations. In general, improving agricultural water productivity, thus freeing up water for ecosystem functions, can be achieved by creating synergies across scales and between various agricultural sectors and the environment, and by enabling multiple uses of water and equitable access to water resources for different groups in society.

 

9 Managing Agroecosystem Services

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Managing Agroecosystem Services

Devra I. Jarvis,1* Elizabeth Khaka,2† Petina L. Pert,3

Lamourdia Thiombiano4 and Eline Boelee5

1Bioversity

International, Rome, Italy; 2United Nations Environment Programme

(UNEP), Nairobi, Kenya; 3Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research

Organisation (CSIRO), Cairns, Queensland, Australia; 4Central Africa Bureau, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Libreville, Gabon; 5

Water Health, Hollandsche Rading, the Netherlands

Abstract

Agriculture and ecosystem services are interrelated in various ways. Payments for ecological services (PES) and innovative methods of agricultural management, including ecological agriculture, conservation agriculture and the management of biological diversity are options for enhancing ecosystem services in agroecosystems while sustaining or increasing productivity.

Successful actions will depend on strong supporting policies and legal frameworks, as well as on developing the knowledge and leadership capacity in farming communities to evaluate the potential benefits. The maintenance of ecosystem services and the long-term productivity and stability of agriculture ecosystems requires a paradigm shift in agriculture that moves away from single solutions to production problems towards a portfolio approach that supports multiple ways to better use soil, water and biotic resources to enhance ecosystem services.

 

10 Water Management for Ecosystem Health and Food Production

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Water Management for Ecosystem Health and Food Production

Gareth J. Lloyd,1* Louise Korsgaard,1† Rebecca E. Tharme,2 Eline

Boelee,3 Floriane Clement,4 Jennie Barron5 and Nishadi Eriyagama6

1UNEP–DHI

Centre for Water and Environment, Hørsholm, Denmark; 2The Nature

Conservancy (TNC), Buxton, UK; 3Water Health, Hollandsche Rading, the

Netherlands; 4International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Kathmandu, Nepal;

5Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, UK and Stockholm Resilience

Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; 6International Water Management

Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka

Abstract

The integrated, efficient, equitable and sustainable management of water resources is of vital importance for securing ecosystem health and services to people, not least of which is food production. The challenges related to increasing water scarcity and ecosystem degradation, and the added complexities of climate change, highlight the need for countries to carefully manage their surface water and groundwater resources. Built upon the principles of economic efficiency, equity and environmental sustainability, integrated water resources management (IWRM) can be shaped by local needs to maximize allocative efficiency and better manage water for people, food, nature and industry. However, the flexibility of the approach means that it is interpreted and applied in ways that prioritize and address immediate challenges created by demographic, economic and social drivers, often at the expense of environmental sustainability – and hence also of long-term food security. The need to more explicitly include ecosystems in water management practices and safeguard long-term food security can be addressed partly by refining the notion of ‘water for food’ in IWRM as ‘water for agroecosystems’. This would also serve to eliminate much of the current dichotomy between ‘water for food’ and ‘water for nature’, and deliver a more balanced approach to ecosystem services that explicitly considers the value and benefits to people of a healthy resource base. The adoption of an ecosystem services approach to IWRM, and incorporation of environmental flows as a key element, can contribute to longterm food security and ecosystem health by ensuring more efficient and effective management of water for agroecosystems, natural systems and all its other uses.

 

11 Management of Water and Agroecosystems in Landscapes for Sustainable Food Security

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Management of Water and

Agroecosystems in Landscapes for Sustainable

Food Security

Eline Boelee,1* Sara J. Scherr,2 Petina L. Pert,3 Jennie Barron,4

Max Finlayson,5 Katrien Descheemaeker,6 Jeffrey C. Milder,2 Renate

Fleiner,7 Sophie Nguyen-Khoa,8 Stefano Barchiesi,9

Stuart W. Bunting,10 Rebecca E. Tharme,11 Elizabeth Khaka,12

David Coates,13 Elaine M. Solowey,14 Gareth J. Lloyd,15 David Molden7 and Simon Cook16

1Water

Health, Hollandsche Rading, the Netherlands; 2EcoAgriculture Partners,

Washington, DC, USA; 3Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research

Organisation (CSIRO), Cairns, Queensland, Australia; 4Stockholm Environment

Institute, University of York, UK and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm

University, Stockholm, Sweden; 5Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS), Charles

Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales, Australia; 6Plant Production Systems,

Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands; 7International Centre for

Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal;

 

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