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The water footprint of the Spanish agricultural sector: 1860–2010

Rosa Duarte (), Vicente Pinilla () and Ana Serrano ()

Ecological Economics, 2014, vol. 108, issue C, 200-207

Abstract: Since 1860, the Spanish agricultural sector has undergone an intensive process of development resulting in important structural changes, not only in the sector itself, but also in the relationship of the agrarian system to natural resources. This paper studies the evolution of domestic water consumption as a consequence of increasing agricultural production, as well as the impact that the growing need for water had on the construction of infrastructure for irrigation. To that end, we examine the water consumed in the production of vegetable and animal goods for five different years: 1860, 1900, 1930, 1962 and 2010. From these results, a detailed analysis of the trends in water consumption and changes in compositional patterns is carried out. We determine to what extent the development of the agricultural sector conditioned the construction of new irrigation infrastructure. Finally, a Decomposition Analysis (DA) is applied to analytically identify and quantify the main explanatory factors behind that evolution, and to understand the increase in agricultural water consumption over the long term. Our findings show the large pressures on water resources exerted as a result of the expansion of the Spanish agricultural sector during the last 150years.

Keywords: Agricultural production; Water footprint; Irrigation; Decomposition Analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.10.020

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