Innovation and research in agriculture water management to achieve sustainable development goals
QUESTION 62: What role can information and communication technology play in travelling the last mile?
Research has given the irrigation community many new technologies and continues to deliver new and innovative approaches to how to use water in irrigation to produce more to meet the adage “more crop per drop”, whilst minimizing environmental impacts. Meeting this objective is becoming more critical as the world’s population increases and the impacts of climate change become more visible.
However, the gap between the development of these new and innovative technologies and the widespread use of these technologies in systems and management continues to grow. This ‘last mile’ must be travelled if we are to meet the growing demands of the world’s population for food and natural fibre. The efficiency with which we travel this last mile will have many components; this theme question addresses just one of these components.
Information and communication technology offer tools and systems which may be used to speed up the adoption of research and development outcomes to produce more crop per drop and to minimise the impacts of irrigation in and to the environment. There are a range of other components to the adoption process including the policy environment, financial assistance and various types of incentives (both financial and non-financial), along with social and cultural influences. Information and communication technology have a role to play in all these and the diverse communities and individuals may adopt different processes and seek potentially different step outcomes.
How can this tool be used effectively within different socio-economic environments? We need to ensure that the appropriate tools are used for the different environments in which irrigation is carried out and for the desired outcomes. Will different tools be used for different desired outcomes within the same local environment/location?
QUESTION 63: What role is played by multi-disciplinary dialogue to achieve sustainable development goals?
In the past, research was undertaken by research organisations (universities, research focused government departments, etc.); policy development and implementation was the realm of government and their departments; ag extension was undertaken by Departments of Agriculture and Universities; and farmers and end-users were expected to just respond to the inputs from these outside of the end-use of irrigation water for crop production. Environmental impacts were only considered when they could no longer be catered for within the production system.
The insular/silo approach had its downside with agronomic research not always being relevant to the needs of the end-users, implications of policy changes not fully understood or even anticipated, adoption of new and more effective ways of crop production was often slow and farmer lead research and adoption not being recognised as pathways to improved production.
It is now recognised and better understood that that previous approach to industry extension and achieving sustainable development goals was not always effective.
Multi-disciplinary dialogue engages, by its definition, more than one discipline in design and implementation of policy, research, extension and adoption/use of processes that lead to sustainable development.
How can this multi-disciplinary approach be enhanced with improved interactions and new layers to more effectively engage in the attainment of sustainable development goals?
This Question seeks to draw out approaches that are being used and to stimulate thoughts on further enhancements to make the dialogue between all engaged in sustainable development more effective.