Agricultural practices are an essential sector of the economy and are closely linked with several environmental and economic phenomenon. With an increase in rising demands, there has been an increase in agricultural land use. It has been considered that the forest and plantation land acts as a sponge and prevents excess water runoff. With the increase, the agricultural practices, the soil structure, chemical nature, and retention capacities have been significantly altered. It has also been hypothesized that this change in soil composition and structure impacts the water retention capacities of the land. Water management strategies are, therefore, essential as they allow for the development of sustainable water use and management in the agricultural lands. Adherence to these policies has been found to be highly variable in the Australian territories impact the water load and runoff in these regions. Therefore, it is suggested to improve this adherence and promote land use with minimal water runoff to prevent local floods.
Table of contents
Relationship between flooding and agricultural practices
Water management practices in agriculture in Australia.
Analysis of water management practices in agriculture in Australia
Agricultural practices heavily impact the land use and water retention capacity of the land and have, therefore, been associated with floods that result in massive economic losses. Factors like soil compaction, soil architecture, and structure affect water flow and penetration (Roggers et al., 2017). Healthy soil acts as a sponge for water retention and prevents washing out during wet seasons. Poor management of soil in agriculture impacts the soil health and its overall ability to retain water increasing the chances of water level rise.
Agricultural practices have, therefore, been intricately linked with the recurrent flooding in the wetlands where poorly managed soil in agriculture aggravates the flooding in the water bodies (Bowmer, 2011). The purpose of this report is to identify the relationship between agricultural practices and flooding the different regions globally. This report will also evaluate the present water management strategies in Australia associated with agriculture and analyze their implementation and effectiveness. This report will suggest policies for management of eater in agriculture in Australia with a comprehensive evaluation.
The aim of this report is to study the relationship between agricultural practices and flooding in association with agricultural water management strategies in Australia.
Land use and land cover management are a major problem in the agricultural sector for the sustainable management of resources. Factors like surface runoff, mean annual discharge, low flows, and peak discharge are responsible for water retention (Guzha et al., 2018). The clearing of forests and change in the soil structure impact the hydrology of the region. This is associated with the sponge theory that asserts that the forest bed with roots and litter act as a sponge for water retention (Ives, 2006 ). Loss of this land for agricultural practices affects the hydrology and results in floods. By Schellekens et al. (2007) a comprehensive study for the management was also conducted in the pine plantations.
The study illustrated that the pine plantations affected the water holding capacity. The low flow volume increases significantly after the removal of the forest cover. Harvesting and burning of the forest land also impact the peak discharges and stormflow volumes. It has also been deduced that the peak floodwater flows can be reduced and delayed by the forest lands, the conversion of forest land and agricultural land, therefore, plays an essential role in the management of water flow and basin management (Ives, 2006). The process of erosion and sedimentation, soil architecture, porosity, water retention capacity, and the microbiome is altered when the forest land is converted in agricultural land, therefore, collectively influences the water run-off and water levels in the catchments or nearby water bodies (Schellekens et al, 2007).
Water resource management is essential for sustainable agricultural practices and the mainland. In Australia, various management policies and approaches are often used. These include the spatial scale approach for catchments and basins, water pricing, water sustainability indices, integrated water resource management, etc. The water management structure is highly variable and is largely dependent on surface water, catchments, and dams. The general purpose of the Australian water accounting standard 1(AWAS1) has been established to look forth for the failure or system capture on the water stores.
The national water commission of Australia also looks forward and management of the new dams for the agricultural purposes. Many states in Australia have also developed several accountability tools that include metering and several market-based mechanisms to prevent unfair sharing of water resources and agricultural management. The department of Primary industries and regional development by the government of Australia maintains the dryland and irrigated agricultural industries that helps the agricultural land by various incentive schemes, grants, planning, and maintaining emergency water arrangements (Government of Australia, 2018).
Figure 1: water management resources for agriculture in Australia (Tingey-Holyoak, 2014)
Water sharing and safety risks can be perceived differently by the farmers. The policy settings developed do not have a uniform impact in the Australian territories. The current policies are implemented and are considered with variability among the Australian farmers. For instance, the water management accounting and policy adherence were found to be weak in South Australia in contrast to Tasmania where the adherence to these policies and accountability the farmers is high (Tingey-Holyoak, 2014). The dam management accounts the water management structure impacts the farming and agricultural practices of the farmers in Australia. The implementation is, therefore, weak and requires updating (Tingey-Holyoak, 2014).
It is important to develop a participatory approach with budgeting and dam maintenance considerations. Territories with poor adherence and accountability to the water resources have higher spillways in incidence. The government-level accountability is driven by the new dams portraying negligence for the older or the existing damns in Australia. Further, the small surface water storage has not been successfully achieved in Australia impacting the water management structure (Tingey-Holyoak, 2014). Stubble framing is common in Australia and is associated with water management strategies. The land-use changes with agriculture are of critical consideration as they impact the water retention water holding capacities of the agricultural land (Bowmer, 2011). The policy must be designed with linking the core practices with the water management strategies for higher efficacy and implementation success.
The suitable policy implementation and changes and recommendations include involvement of strategies and policies that ensure better agricultural practices and effective water management in Australia to prevent overflows and flooding which include:
1. Minimization of soil disturbances: Preventing soil disturbances with its physical and chemical changes in its structure. This will help in preventing the soil structure changes and increase its retention abilities and minimize excess runoff (Roggers et al., 2017).
2. Keeping the ground covered: Forest and plantation systems classically prevented the water runoff by acting as a sponge and absorbing the water effectively. This will also helpful in the replenishment of the soil and improve its structure. It is important to consider that the soil structure plays an essential role in determining the water quality and the runoff quantity. Therefore, strategic plantations can be done near the demand catchments to improve the overall water management structure (Roggers et al., 2017).
3. Improve adherence of existing policies and laws: It is important to promote adherence to the existing policies and laws of the water management and usage strategies in the territories. This adherence can be promoted by educating the community and increasing their accountability towards sustainable water use and management. The policy development and adherence can be improved by development for a participatory approach where the concerns of the farmers are essentially addressed and included in the water management, sharing, and agricultural policy structures (Tingey-Holyoak, 2014).
4. Develop water management policies with multiple levels: The water management policies and structures should be developed based on regional and territorial need at local levels, state levels and national levels. The policies must be renewed and updated frequently so that the essential components of the management structure are included regularly. This will ensure that water management and sharing strategies are advanced and with the highest efficiency (Roggers et al., 2017).
Flooding results in massive economic losses globally. The forest land and natural plantation systems have been known to act as a sponge layer where they absorb the excess water and prevent the runoff increasing the water levels. However, with an increase in the demands, the agricultural land area has increased and has changed the soil structure, chemical nature, and its water retention abilities. It has been studied through various researches that this has resulted in a change in the water retention and runoff ability of soil structure that can be associated with increased runoff, lower absorption and floods. Water management and sharing strategies become highly important in such scenarios as they can help in the determination of the hydraulic infrastructure and the overall water management to limit such incidences.
In Australia, water management is governed by multiple policies under the department of Primary industries and regional development by the government of Australia that maintains the dryland and irrigated agricultural industries. The water management structure is highly variable and is largely dependent on surface water, catchments, and dams. The application and adherence to these policies have been highly variable in different territories of Australia. This report provides a set of recommendations to improve water management and agricultural policies in Australia for their effective implementation and adherence.
Bowmer, K. H. (2011). Water resource protection in Australia: Links between land use and river health with a focus on stubble farming systems. Journal of Hydrology, 403(1-2), 176-185.
Government of Australia. (2018). Water management. Retrieved from: https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/climate-land-water/water/water-management
Guzha, A. C., Rufino, M. C., Okoth, S., Jacobs, S., &Nóbrega, R. L. B. (2018). Impacts of land use and land cover change on surface runoff, discharge and low flows: Evidence from East Africa. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 15, 49-67.
Ives, J. D. (2006). Comment: Forests and floods: Drowning in Fiction or thriving on facts?.Mountain Research and Development, 26(2), 187-188.
Rogger, M., Agnoletti, M., Alaoui, A., Bathurst, J. C., Bodner, G., Borga, M., ... & Holden, J. (2017). Land use change impacts on floods at the catchment scale: Challenges and opportunities for future research. Water Resources Research, 53(7), 5209-5219.
Schellekens, J., Bruijnzeel, L. A., &Rawaqa, T. T. (2007). Changes in catchment runoff after harvesting and burning of a Pinus caribaea plantation in Viti Levu, Fiji. Forest Ecology and Management, 251(1-2), 31-44.
Tingey-Holyoak, J. L. (2014). Water sharing risk in agriculture: Perceptions of farm dam management accountability in Australia. Agricultural Water Management, 145, 123-133
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