Climate-smart irrigation: development of a framework for conjunctive groundwater and surface water use for solar-driven smallholder irrigated agriculture
Most of the future growth in food production to sustain livelihoods is likely to come from intensification, with irrigation and energy access, playing a key role. However, smallholder crop production is challenged by water shortages and costly grid energy. In this project we assess site suitability for solar-powered irrigation and identify critical design parameters of Bhungroo Irrigation Technology (BIT) necessary for conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater systems, and quantify artificial recharge under Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) in smallholder farmers in the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Area in South Africa. Furthermore, the project examines the potential and technical requirements, and crop production under combined BIT-solar powered irrigation investments in smallholder irrigation schemes. The project will also contribute to the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus by increasing renewable water resources through runoff harvesting and storage in an aquifer (BIT), increasing crop productivity and food security in irrigation, using clean and renewable energy from solar.