Flexible delivery schedules to improve farm irrigation and reduce pressure on groundwater: A case study in southern Italy

Daniele Zaccaria, Ines Oueslati, Christopher M.U. Neale, Nicola Lamaddalena, Michele Vurro, Luis S. Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study was conducted on an irrigated area of southern Italy to analyze the current operation of a large-scale irrigation delivery system and the effects of the operation procedures on crop irrigation management and aquifer salinity increase. The area is characterized by relatively high levels of groundwater salinity in the summer that are probably due to intensive groundwater pumping by farmers during periods of peak irrigation demand, with the resulting seawater intrusion. Two alternative delivery schedules, namely the rotation delivery schedule and the flexible delivery schedule, referred to as RDS and FDS, respectively, were simulated using a soil-water balance model under different combinations of crop, soil and climatic conditions. The first set of simulations concerned the farm irrigation management constrained by the rotational delivery used by the local water management organization. The second scenario simulated the farm irrigation schedule most commonly used by growers in the area for maximizing crop yields. Based on crop irrigation management under RDS and FDS, two alternative operational scenarios were also developed at the scheme level and then compared for evaluation. Winter and summer salinity maps of the aquifer were developed by interpolating salinity measurements of the groundwater samples collected during the 2006 irrigation season. From these maps, a close relationship can be inferred among delivery schedule, aquifer exploitation and salinity increase, which justifies the need for implementing FDS that might reduce the groundwater demand for irrigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-270
Number of pages14
JournalIrrigation Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science


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