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ASALEE, a tool for assisting rotation choice to improve the management of volumes of irrigation water

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Presentation

  • Project driver: Arvalis-Institut du végétal
  • Partner: The ASALEE tool was developed by the consortium: Arvalis, INRA, Terres Inovia, Chambre d’Agriculture des Deux-Sèvres, Chambre d’Agriculture de Charente-Maritime
  • Duration of project: Since 2018
  • Cost: The project was funded to the amount of €80,000 by the Adour Garonne Water Agency out of a global cost of €200,000.

Background of the project’s genesis

Farms are subject to many climatic, regulatory and economic risks which are tending to increase: the phenomenon of drought and the reduction of available water, fluctuating and competitive markets that impact the price of farm products, the regulatory shutdown of irrigation, etc. Risk management has become a vital component for farmers, allowing them to reduce the impact of risks on the profitability of their farms and better define irrigation and rotation strategies.

Choosing adapted and robust rotation to overcome these different risks is one of the first levers of action. The ASALEE application was developed to assist and advise farmers by providing them with knowledge in the form of figures on their risks, and on the profitability and variability of water consumption.

It was designed using the first area of experimentation, the basin of the Boutonne (Poitou-Charentes), in the framework of a territorial project developed by the Joint Syndicate for the Management and Development of the Boutonne Basin (SYMBO). Its objectives included reducing the volume of withdrawals of irrigation water in mid-summer, to ensure the return of the basin to equilibrium in 2021.

This need to economise on water use can result in reducing irrigation volumes and a new project to install a storage reservoir, backed by two thirds of the farms irrigated. The economic risks involved are significant for the farms that have not joined this type of project. In parallel, the Collective Management Organisation will impose more severe protocols relating to the water withdrawn for irrigation. Several actions have been carried out to assist all the farmers to determine the best rotations to save water and better use it for irrigation: technical advice, training, diagnostics, etc. Nevertheless, none of the decision aid tools identified really takes into account multiple risk factors.

The ASALEE application incorporates different risk factors such as climate, the cost price of products, the availability and price of irrigation water to identify solutions customised for each farm thanks to the calculation of irrigation water profitability, variability and consumption indicators.

Strategy and Objective


The ASALEE tool permits defining and comparing rotation scenarios distributed by type of soil in terms of irrigation water profitability, resilience and consumption-productivity.

By taking into account climatic and economic uncertainties and constraints linked to access to water, the ASALEE tool allows farmers to compare different rotation strategies according to the technical capacities of their f  arms. It permits visualising technical-economic performance and water consumption indicators generated according to different rotation strategies.

 

The tool can be used at the farm scale as a diagnostic element, or at the territorial scale by addressing councillors and groups of farmers (irrigators in priority) in view to studying different strategies of adaptation to different types of constraint bearing on water resources and economic contexts.

 

Innovative nature of the project


Technical

ASALEE is the result of research performed in the framework of the UMT-EAU (Joint Technological Unit),   a research program associating Arvalis, the INRAE, and the CETIOM, aimed at developing tools and methods for the quantitative management of water, from the farm to the territorial scale. It was designed following the analysis of the uses and limits of existing tools such as the “ORA” model (Rotation Research Optimisation Software). The indicators and calculations of ASALEE rely on the expertise of Arvalis and its partners, and on the data collected over more than 20 years. The calculation engine is based on merging existing reference bases and providing both economic and agronomic results. It takes the form of an online interactive web application and is thus easily accessible and practical to use. Furthermore, this diagnostic tool takes into account the specific characteristics of farmers’ situations upstream and proposes solutions adapted to them.

Results and perspectives


Designed in 2018, ASALEE is still undergoing development. Improvements are planned in the short and medium terms regarding the tool’s functioning and ergonomics, and the programming of new crops (for example, work to include forage in the tool will be carried out in 2021). The integration of these crops and the addition of new functionalities (especially the inclusion of climate change in module of future climate scenario simulations) will allow ASALEE to adapt to the contexts of the next territories of the study. In the longer term, improvements are expected regarding the inclusion of new criteria that will demand more complex developments.

The project’s short-term benefits will bring about changes in rotations practiced by the partner farmers, leading to the optimisation of water resources available on their farms.

In this context, adapting the rotations of a farm has the twofold advantage of optimising the use of water resources while minimising financial risks.

In the long term, at the territorial scale, if a large number of farmers use the tool, it will be possible to imagine the benefits for water resources.

How can this project be duplicated for other rivers?

New projects will be set up at the territorial scale to experiment with the tool in other basins and adapt it to local contexts.

ASALEE could be used by farmers using water resources to set up a tool-users group in view to communicating its results and its use in other territories.

 

#irrigation#agriculture#environment#management#app

 

For further information

[i] L’assolement correspond  aux différents types de culture répartis annuellement sur la Surface Agricole Utile (SAU) d’une exploitation agricole.

 

Crédit photo : Arvalis – Institut du végétal

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