The digital irrigated agriculture: advances on decision modelling to accompany the sector in exploiting new opportunities

Francesco Cavazza
Irrigated agriculture is facing growing uncertainties under Climate Change (CC) due to the decreased predictability of weather events and increased variability of climate patterns. The farmers' and Water Authorities' (WAs) climate-related uncertainties can be lowered by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) through the provision of weather and climate forecasts. Despite the growing interest for such platforms and their potential to favor CC adaptation, we see many ICT-development
more » ... iatives having less-than-expected diffusion and failing to solve informational issues in the short term. This PhD thesis deeply investigated the uncertainty settings around the decisions on ICT-information implementation to support irrigation management. Its ambition is to provide evidences on: (i) the circumstances in which ICT can be reliably used; (ii) the relative potential benefits; (iii) the barriers in the decision environment or in the Decision Maker's (DM) behavior which do not allow the achievement of such potential benefits. To do so, we defined an innovative uncertainty framing, distinguishing between elements of risk and ambiguity, and developed two separate decision models under uncertainty. One model allowed to estimate potential economic benefits from the ICT-informed decision process of irrigation management, while accounting for the restrictions to information usability. The other model represented subjective behavior in the decision on ICT-information implementation and highlighted how it can impact on ICT-benefits in irrigation districts. The capability of decision models was then tested in two separate empirical examples. Results confirmed the hypothesis on ICT potentials, but underlined that benefits are extremely variable and subjected to constraints. These are relative to the decision environment, to the form and quality of ICT-information and to the behavior of DMs. Conclusions provide policy suggestions to help irrigated agriculture unlocking ICT potentials, overcoming barriers to ICT-information implementation. Specifically, we highlight how ICTdevelopment policies, uncertainty-management policies and water policies are respectively needed to: (i) favor ICT development with end users to answer their information needs; (ii) help DMs facing risks caused by the imperfect nature of ICT-information; and (iii) ensure that excess-use of water does not undermine ICT-benefits. 4 5
doi:10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/9308 fatcat:uxbnj3b7lzfx7litqly46h4lky