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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Water Management and Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #360211

Research Project: Advancing Water Management and Conservation in Irrigated Arid Lands

Location: Water Management and Conservation Research

Title: Energy consumption due to groundwater pumping for irrigation in the North China Plain

item CHEN, XIUZHI - China Agricultural University
item Thorp, Kelly
item OUYANG, ZHIYUN - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item HOU, YUE - China Agricultural University
item LI, YUNKAI - China Agricultural University

Submitted to: Science of the Total Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/13/2019
Publication Date: 3/14/2019
Citation: Chen, X., Thorp, K.R., Ouyang, Z., Hou, Y., Li, Y. 2019. Energy consumption due to groundwater pumping for irrigation in the North China Plain. Science of the Total Environment. 669:1033-1042.

Interpretive Summary: The North China Plain has become a top user of groundwater resources for irrigation worldwide. Groundwater pumping leads to large energy costs in the region. This study is the first to comprehensively evaluate regional energy consumption for groundwater pumping for irrigation in the North China Plain. Results of the study will be useful for establishing regulations for sustainable use of water resources for irrigation in the North China Plain and for researchers worldwide who are working on improving energy efficiency for irrigation practices.

Technical Abstract: Irrigated agriculture consumes a large amount of groundwater resources with a huge energy requirement, and this has seriously restricted the development of green and efficient agriculture in China. However, recent research is limited to individual irrigation systems, and no spatial-temporal assessment has been carried out at regional scale. The latter is needed for effective management and regulation of regional energy consumption for irrigation. Based on a single-well pumping method, a distributed energy consumption model for groundwater irrigation (DEC_GI) was proposed in this study. The North China Plain (NCP) was selected as the research area, which is a typical groundwater irrigation area and has severe issues with aquifer depletion. The results showed that the average annual energy consumption for irrigation was 156.67 billion kW h, and the energy consumption per unit area was 11224.0 kW h hm-2 under the winter wheat - summer maize rotation system in the NCP. Current irrigation energy consumption in the NCP is 2.9 times of the initial value in 1986, and the NCP has already become the world's largest energy consumer for irrigation. Due to the uncertainty of precipitation, energy consumption for irrigation fluctuates per growing season. Groundwater level also impacts energy consumption. Popularizing water-saving irrigation technology such as drip or sprinkler irrigation and changing cropping systems and habits can effectively reduce energy consumption for irrigation in the NCP.