The meeting provided a forum to generate debate and ideas about how to improve irrigation and drainage systems, making them more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
Irrigation, as the biggest water user in most regions of the world, is facing significant challenges in balancing social, economic and environmental needs for water.
The conference provided examples of how irrigation and drainage can become more sustainable, while acknowledging that the concept of sustainability is a goal that continues to change as our knowledge of the biophysical realities alters. In that sense moving towards sustainability is an ever evolving journey.
Researchers and practitioners should focus on the implications of their work for improving sustainability, whether this be drainage, irrigation technologies, economic modelling, governance studies for irrigation, management, reuse of water or any other aspects.
The conference was opened by Prof Carlos A Brebbia who explained the aims of Wessex Institute and its commitment to act as a medium for the transfer of knowledge.
Carlos explained that although the expertise of the Institute is in the field of computational modelling, its objective is to further interdisciplinary work. WIT has contributed to many joint projects with its unique experience on boundary element techniques. Their application varied from classical mechanical engineering to biomechanics. At present most of the advanced research carried out on campus has focused on the petroleum industry and aerospace.
WIT boundary element research has resulted in the development of powerful computer codes which are applied in designing electric cathodic protection systems and structures, a problem for which boundary elements is the most appropriate method. The techniques are also useful for analysing extreme problems such as fracture mechanics, for which very accurate results are required.
The substantial amount of industrial experience accumulated at the Institute over the last three decades since its foundation, has resulted in a close collaboration with industry and other avenues for technology transfer.
Keynote Address and Invited PresentationsThe Co-chairman of the conference, Prof Henning Bjornlund, gave a keynote address on “Water Governance for Sustainable Irrigation: the role of civil society”, discussing how the government influences irrigation policies, a process that needs to be improved all over the world as the need for optimisation of water resources becomes more pressing. The accumulation of different bureaucratic organisations complicates even further this process. Governments ought to facilitate rather than adhere to rigid rules. Although Henning illustrated his presentation with case studies in Australia, the problems are similar in all parts of the world. Furthermore, the Australian experience because of its complexity offers many valuable lessons.
Other invited presentations included:
- “A comparative study of the impact of deficit irrigation on cucumber yield planted on greenhouse and open field under arid environment”, by Abdul Rasoul Al-Omran, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.
- “A new approach for flood forecasting of river flows”, by Magdy Mohssen, Lincoln University, New Zealand.
- “Verification of the water supply rules in an arid area – Case study of the Xayar irrigation district in the northern part of the Taklamakan Desert”, by Tadao Yamamoto, Hokkaido University, Japan.
- “Policy options and preferences for water sharing”, by Henning Bjornlund, University of Lethbridge, Canada and University of South Australia, Australia.
ISAC DinnerThe International Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC) of the conference met over dinner to discuss new topics for the meeting and nominate colleagues to be invited to join the Committee. The general feeling was that the conference ought to be reconvened in 2016 in a country where irrigation is intensively applied, probably in the Mediterranean region.
Social OccasionsThere was a special complimentary afternoon excursion to see some places of interest and to help the delegates to become better acquainted with each other. The guided excursion took them to the Kornik Castle a well know spot in the Wielkopolski region, originally built by the Gorka and Działyński family in the XVI-XVII century and redeveloped by successive generations. The delegates were shown some of the antique books and maps preserved in the library of the castle, which include some hand written and illustrated manuscripts on vellum, as well as one of the oldest deeds in Poland. The library was built by one of the Dzialynski family members, many of whom added different collections to the castle. Of special interest was the ancient suits of armour, dating from the XVth century and including some of those worn by the famous ‘winged’ Polish horseman during the wars in west Ukraine and eastern Europe. The knowledge of the guide and the beautiful setting added to the enjoyable excursion.
The conference banquet took place in a restaurant renowned for its cuisine, located in one of the oldest houses in the Market Square. The house, originally belonging to a merchant family, has private dining facilities, and offered an excellent cuisine. The main dish was roasted duck for which Poznan is famous. This was accompanied by good wines. The banquet was very friendly with a series of toasts, including one to Prof Konrad Domke from the Technical University of Poznan, for his help in arranging the conferences.
Closing of the ConferenceThe conference was closed by Professors Bjornlund and Brebbia, who thanked the delegates for their presence and having collaborated to yet another successful edition of this important meeting, which will be reconvened in 2016.
Conference ProceedingsThe proceedings Sustainable Irrigation 2014 – Sustainable Irrigation and Drainage V, 480pp (Print ISBN: 978-1-84564-788-9; eISBN: 978-1-84564-789-6) are available from WIT Press. Orders can be placed on the WIT Press web site at www.witpress.com or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223 or fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853.
Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as Volume 185 of WIT Transactions on the Ecology and the Environment (ISSN: 1746-448X, Digital ISSN 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at http://library.witpress.com