The water footprint of irrigation-supplemented cotton and mung-bean crops in Northern Ethiopia

Heliyon. 2021 Apr 22;7(4):e06822. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e06822. eCollection 2021 Apr.


Global freshwater resources are getting scarcer and scarcer due to the ever-increasing population, climate change, and other human activities. Hence, assessing the consumption of freshwater by different consumers is a key to efficiently utilize the resource. In this study, the Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) tool was used to determine the water footprint (WF) of Center Pivot (CP) irrigated cotton and mung-bean production using two approaches, namely, CROPWAT and field-data based methods. Based on the CROPWAT-based estimates, the average total WF of cotton was found to be 2745 m3/ton. Out of this, the green and blue WF contributed to an average of 35% and 65 %, respectively. For mung-bean, the total WF was 6561m3/ton, of which blue WF covered around 93 %. Comparison of the blue WF from CROPWAT and field-data based estimates showed a good agreement (nRMSE = 4.5 %, nMBE = 10.7 % and relative error/RE/ranging from 0.8 to 17% for cotton and 12.6% for mung-bean) and no significant difference (p = 0.456) was obtained between the two estimates. The effect of planting date on the WF estimation also showed a small variation of 0.7%-6.6 % for cotton and up to 12% for mung-bean. However, major reductions were obtained on the blue WF of cotton and mung-bean as a result of changing planting dates by about two months prior to the baseline planting dates. In this study, it is concluded that WF assessment could be satisfactorily estimated using CROPWAT model if supported with field obtained information such as soil, crop, and weather data. Another finding of the present study was that, changing planting dates close to the major rainy months could substantially contribute to reducing the blue WF in similar climates.

Keywords: CROPWAT; Center-pivot systems; Cotton; Ethiopia; Mung-bean; Water footprint.