How to save water in agriculture ?

Catherine beNJamiN
Univ Rennes, CNRS, CREM – UMR6211, F-35000 Rennes, France
ORCID : 0000-0002-2054-7746

Alejandra GiraldO HurTadO
Univ Rennes, CNRS, CREM – UMR6211, F-35000 Rennes, France
ORCID : 0000-0003-4338-2822


Abstract : Agricultural use of water, accounting for 70% of water use worldwide, both con- tributes and is confronted to water scarcity. This problem becomes more urgent as world’s population continues to grow and climate change is accelerating. Improving the efficiency of water use is usually presented as an opportunity for large water savings in the agricultural sector. However, recent literature has pointed out that the introduction of more efficiency irrigation systems may actually increase water catchment depletion. This is explained by the so-called rebound effect or Jevons paradox, a phenomenon widely study in the energy sector. The price reduction following the efficiency improvement leads to an increase in water use which ends up eroding, completely or partially, the savings expected from the new technology. In this paper, we present a theoretical framework to analyze farmers’ in- centives to save water after an improvement of the irrigation efficiency. Moreover, we study the variability of irrigation demand following an energy price shock. Our findings suggest that incentive to water saving are determine by the underlying energy context.

Keywords : rebound effect, irrigation, water management.

Jel Classification : Q15, Q25, Q55.