Potential Impacts of Cropping and Management Interventions on Resilient and Sustainable Irrigation Development in Western Nepal

37 Pages Posted: 2 May 2022

See all articles by Avay Risal

Avay Risal

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Anton Urfels

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Yihun Dile

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gokul Paudel

International Maize And Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

Raghavan Srinivasan

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Timothy J. Krupnik

International Maize And Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

Abstract

Insufficient irrigation with existing water resources constitutes a major reason for low agricultural productivity levels in Nepal. Since large irrigation projects are costly and often prove difficult to manage, small and farmer-led irrigation practices are critical for improving agricultural productivity and profitability. However, the potential impact and sustainability of irrigation expansion and intensification scenarios remains poorly understood. We address this knowledge gap, through a participatory modelling exercise that uses the Soil & Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to assess how stakeholder defined scenarios affect the agricultural and water systems with special focus on groundwater us and sustainability. The scenarios were developed based on stakeholder engagement meetings and include closing yield gaps in rice-wheat system, cultivating vegetables between kharif and spring rice, replacing lentil and fallow by irrigated maize, triple cropping instead of double cropping system, and replacing rainfed rabi crops by horticultural crops. Groundwater irrigation was sustainable if the surface water irrigation was applied to the monsoon crops and dry season crop was provided with groundwater irrigation. Excessive extraction of groundwater adversely affects streamflow leaving downstream users with insufficient water, mostly during periods of low flow. Groundwater sustainability can be achieved through implementation of sustainable land management practices such as composting/mulching, conservation tillage, plantation of cover crops to reduce evaporation and promote groundwater recharge. Such practices can enhance the groundwater recharge by 23-36% and reduce risks of groundwater overexploitation over time. Moreover, crop yield and production of crops grown during winter and spring season such as winter-wheat and winter-maize were low even after sufficient irrigation and fertilizer were provided due to short growing period and temperature stress. Hence, the cultivation of such crops in dry seasons by expanding costly irrigation facilities require farmers to time their planting and harvest activities much better through ensured input availability and adequate support. Rather crops like mungbean, lentils, and vegetable which have short growing period can be suitable as winter crops as they also have higher economic value and environmental benefits.

Keywords: SWAT, streamflow, Groundwater recharge, irrigation, Water resources sustainability, Crop productivity

Suggested Citation

Risal, Avay and Urfels, Anton and Dile, Yihun and Paudel, Gokul and Srinivasan, Raghavan and Krupnik, Timothy J., Potential Impacts of Cropping and Management Interventions on Resilient and Sustainable Irrigation Development in Western Nepal. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4098493 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4098493

Avay Risal (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Anton Urfels

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Yihun Dile

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Gokul Paudel

International Maize And Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) ( email )

Singh Durbar Plaza
Kathmandu
Kathmandu, 5186
Nepal

Raghavan Srinivasan

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Timothy J. Krupnik

International Maize And Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) ( email )

Apdo. Postal 6-641
Texcoco, El Batan 06600
Mexico

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