The climate models project rising temperatures for the coming decades, and falling precipitation levels in summer, which would lead to a higher demand for water in agriculture while water availability in general drops. In order to irrigate high-value crops sufficiently and thus safeguard yields, more water will be needed in future. In areas with low run-off, water availability will be increasingly restricted. In these situations, we need strategies to reduce reliance on production of additional water. The aim of the project was to work out recommendations for dealing with water under different scenarios for climate, price and policy, and to find suitable strategies under which it would be possible to retain profitability without compromising environmental standards.
The case studies were carried out in the Broye-Tal and in the catchment area of the Greifensee. Two levels of decision-making were taken into account in the development of the strategies: the regional level and the operational level. The researchers used a model to simulate productivity and other agricultural goals on both decision-making levels. The results of this simulation provided the basis on which the team of researchers was able to generate solutions for regional optimisation. Three alternative strategies were developed based on these solutions that focused on either production, the environment or a compromise. On the operational level, an economic model was also used to find solutions offering the maximum profit levels and minimum income risks.
A life-cycle analysis integrated further categories into the evaluation of the solutions: potential for warming, aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity and nutrient inputs in the bodies of water. Stakeholders from the administration, interest groups and agriculture were included in the research process through the discussion of the action plan and the results.
Water demand in Swiss agriculture, and sustainable adaptive options for land and water management to mitigate impacts of climate change (AGWAM)