Introduction

Water Freedom System

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Weather and climatic conditions are the most important production factors for agriculture. Farmers within any agroecosystem therefore try to adapt to these conditions as much as possible (Adger et al. 2005; Smit and Yunlong 1996). Farm technologies play a major role in this adaptation process in both the short and the long term. Farm technologies are optimized for different purposes such as maximizing food production or profit, ttere is an urgent need, however, for such aims to be directed to permit sustainability of food production at the local level, which can be based only on stable agroecosystems (Fig.10.1). ttis has to be the basic strategy

Fig. 10.1. ^e short and long term impact factors on farm management and its relation to resource management and sustainability of agricultural production.

Improving, optimising

Fig. 10.1. ^e short and long term impact factors on farm management and its relation to resource management and sustainability of agricultural production.

Improving, optimising for the long term as important resources for agricultural production such as water, land and soil resources are highly limited in our world. Moreover, these resources are also endangered in many regions by desertification and climate change.

New farm technologies and those that have been established for many generations - indigenous technologies - offer many opportunities to react or adapt to the given climatic and weather conditions. Because of climate variability and change, the optimization of farm technologies becomes even more important for the productivity of various agricultural production systems at different input levels (Siva-kumar et al. 2005). Available farm technologies are often closely linked to specific management options, which will therefore be considered as well in the following analysis, ttese options for the various agricultural systems are always embedded within the given socioeconomic, policy and trading framework within and between countries and regions and these can vary widely, ttis framework is an important consideration when identifying measures to adapt to weather and climate conditions and has a strong influence on the adequacy of measures for adapting farm technologies (Chiotti and Johnston 1995). ttis background and impact are not considered in detail in our analysis but should be kept in mind when applying the general findings and examples to a region with specific agricultural systems and conditions.

Using available farm technologies to ensure sustainable production within given climatic and weather conditions often calls for the proper management of resources or conditions for a specific agricultural crop production such as water, soil (including nutrients), crops (including crop management) and microclimate (Iglesias et al., 1996; Karing et al., 1999; Rounsevell et al., 1999; Salinger et al., 2005).In all agroecosystems since farming began farmers have developed specific strategies, mainly the use of different farm technologies and related management options, to survive in the given environment, but for various reasons not always with sustainability in mind.

However, the development or improvement in farm technologies has been responsible for most of the increases in productivity and yields in agricultural production worldwide, ttis trend should continue (Rounsevell et al. 2005) and could potentially outrange, for example, any negative effects of climate change impacts on food production in many regions. For a specific agricultural system not only the applicability but also the availability of appropriate technologies for the local farmers is therefore crucial for the potential to optimize production or adapt to climatic variability and change conditions.

For example, the proper management of water resources by application of appropriate farm technologies plays and will play a major role in both developed and developing countries in regions with limited water resources for agricultural production. Yield and yield variability can be strongly affected by global warming and changing climatic variability including the direct effect of CO2 on water use efficiency in agroecosystems (Curry et al. 1990; Downing et al. 2000; Dubrovsky at al. 2000; Erda et al. 2005; Ewert et al. 2002; Isik and Devadoss 2006; Kartschall et al. 1995; Semenov et al. 1993; Semenov and Porter 1995; Wolf et al. 2002). Crop water use and deficit in different climate scenarios and potential adaptation measures, however, depend on crops, soil and climatic conditions and have a mixed impact on crop yields (Easterling and Apps 2005; Izaurralde et al. 2003; Rosenzweig et al. 2004; Tao et al. 2003).

Studies of European agricultural systems conclude that there is strong evidence in climate change scenarios, especially for soils with low soil water storage capacity or no groundwater impact to the rooting zone, that irrigation or water-saving production techniques (e.g. by introducing mulching systems, adapting crop rotation), will remain important requirements in future climate conditions in Central European agricultural regions for crops to attain their yield potential (Eitzinger et al. 2003). Further they conclude that if the droughts frequency and duration increase further (Seneviratne et al. 2006; Pal et al. 2004) or soil and groundwater reserves decrease (e.g. by decreasing summer river flow from Alpine region) drought damage will become more common. Summer crops will be more vulnerable and dependent on soil water reserves, as the soil water or higher groundwater tables during the winter period cannot be utilized as much as by winter crops. Evapotranspiration losses during summer due to higher temperatures would increase significantly.

Negative yield effects for several crops and significant additional water use for irrigation (up to 60-90%) might be expected in the Mediterranean region (Marrac-chi et al., 2005; Tubiello et al., 2000) or regions with low soil water availability due to climate change. According to Olesen and Bindi (2002), reduced water availability in Mediterranean countries as a consequence of climate change and variability might be the most important climate risk for crop yields in Europe, especially if extreme weather events increase. A European study (EEA 2005) draws a similar conclusion, remarking on the need for future studies on the effectiveness of irrigated agriculture in Southern Europe.

tte results of climate change impact and adaptation studies in agriculture give us a good insight into the effects on agricultural production of the optimization of farm technologies and management, ttey suggest several potential measures for adaptation of farm technology and management to changing climatic conditions. In many studies focusing on climate change impacts on crop production in temperate agricultural regions, only simple measures such as possible changes in sowing dates (earlier sowing dates) and cultivar selection (e.g. selecting slower maturing varieties) were investigated (Abraha and Savage 2006; Alexandrov et al. 2002; Reilly and Schimmelpfenning 1999; Parry 2000; Sivakumar et al. 2005), showing that these measures often have the potential to significantly reduce negative impacts on crop yields (Alexandrov et al. 2002; Baethgen and Magrin 1995; Gbeti-bouo and Hassan 2005; Luo et al. 2003). Adaptation of planting density and fertilizing can have similar effects (Holden and Brereton 2006; Cuculeanu et al. 1999).

Studies that focus more on adaptation confirm that simple and low-cost technologies can effectively reduce the negative effects of climate warming scenarios and extreme weather on crop yields (Easterling et al., 1993, 1996; Salinger et al., 2005).

However, many adaptation measures to current or changing climates in crop and animal production depend on the availability and costs of different farm technologies, related to the established agricultural system and socioeconomic and policy conditions (Giupponi et al. 2006). Technological research and development are among the most frequently advocated strategies for adapting agriculture to cli mate variability and change (Ewert et al. 2005; Perarnaud et al. 2005; Smithers and Blay-Palmer 2001).

In developed countries with high-input agriculture many farmers may be able to deal better with climate variability and change thanks to their available extensive "technological" tool-kit, but the long-term vulnerability and risk may increase as well (Bryant et al. 2000; Burton and Lim 2005). In low-input agricultural systems, on the other hand, the individual farmers depend to a large extent on low-cost technologies or on external input such as institutional support for more costly technologies, tte concept of low external inputs sustainable agriculture (LEISA), which is well described by Stigter et al. (2005), is probably the only realistic option for many developing countries if they are to secure sustainable food production and welfare. Moreover, studies on climate change impacts on crops showed that there is enormous variability between areas (e.g. shown by Jones and Norton (2003) for African maize production), which makes locally adapted technologies even more important.

In this paper we will try to give an overview of this complex picture by using examples from selected countries with different climatic conditions and agricultural systems. It discusses also the optimization of farm technologies as a means of ensuring sustainable agricultural production, ttis optimization may include stabilizing agroecosystems and providing an acceptable income for farmers.

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