IAHS2022-90, updated on 19 Apr 2023
IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Exploring ways to improve agricultural water management on two Mediterranean irrigated systems : promises of wireless low-tech sensor networks 

Paul Vandôme1, Gilles Belaud1, Crystele Leauthaud1, Simon Moinard2, Insaf Mekki3, Abdelaziz Zairi3, François Charron1, Julien Leconte1, Intissar Ferchichi3, and Tarek Ajmi3
Paul Vandôme et al.
  • 1G-EAU, AgroParisTech, Cirad, IRD, INRAE, Montpellier SupAgro, Univ. Montpellier, Montpellier, France. 

  • 2ITAP, Univ. Montpellier, INRAE, Institut Agro, Montpellier, France. 

  • 3Institut National de Recherches en Génie Rural, Eaux et Forêts (INRGREF), Tunis, Tunisie.

Unsustainable use of water resources and climate change will exacerbate the already existing tensions on resources, especially in the Mediterranean context. Despite investments in modern, economically and energetically costly equipment, the performance of irrigated agriculture remains below expectations, notably because of the lack of water data available and limited use of decision support tools. Access to information at an unprecedented level, via easily accessible low-cost and low-tech sensors, may be a major lever for better identifying achievable performance gains, at different spatial and temporal scales, and for guiding the choice of actors towards more virtuous practices. To explore this hypothesis, two Mediterranean irrigated systems (Provence, France, and Cap Bon, Tunisia) with major water use efficiency issues were selected. The agrarian diagnosis revealed the main local needs and constraints that limit sustainable water management. Innovative technological systems (water sensors, automation, IoT networks) have been developed in response and implemented on field through a participatory approach. The technologies have been designed to be low energy, low-tech and low-cost, based on the hypothesis that the lack of accessibility - investment and O&M costs, system readability - of existing equipment was a brake to the dissemination of innovations in the agricultural sector, especially in the global South. We believe that the adoption of such technologies will contribute to improve irrigated systems sustainability by playing on several dimensions: supporting decision- making and promoting suitable and sparing water use; maintaining agricultural production and economic results of production systems by reasoning the inputs; improving water users labour conditions; generally, accompanying the transition towards more virtuous practices, by making the quantification of the flows, and thus the understanding and experimentation, accessible to the irrigated territory stakeholders. The performance gains achievable with these innovations, heeding their inherent weaknesses (eg. lower robustness and accuracy), and the potential impacts of their adoption at larger scale remain to be assessed in an integrated way.

How to cite: Vandôme, P., Belaud, G., Leauthaud, C., Moinard, S., Mekki, I., Zairi, A., Charron, F., Leconte, J., Ferchichi, I., and Ajmi, T.: Exploring ways to improve agricultural water management on two Mediterranean irrigated systems : promises of wireless low-tech sensor networks , IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-90, https://doi.org/10.5194/iahs2022-90, 2022.