Gabriel Arbonès, pre-doctoral researcher at the Botín Foundation’s Water Observatory (CEIGRAM-UPM and UCM), has presented at the Friedrich-Alexander Universität the results of his study on agricultural land use changes in Spain: markets, climate and water resources, with a case study in southern Catalonia.
In order to support sustainable transitions, the study aims to understand land use changes in Spain, specifically with regard to irrigated crops, to promote sustainable transitions. It examines variables like climate variations, water scarcity, irrigation technology, international trade, and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by analysing data from government public databases from 2004 to 2022.
The results reveal trends in agricultural intensification with highly productive fields being intensified through additional irrigation and less productive croplands being abandoned. Because of increased groundwater exploitation, irrigated woody crops—especially olives, vines, and almonds—have grown significantly in the water-scarce southern region. Climate change affects agriculture in Catalonia’s Baix Camp region, and possible adaptation and mitigation strategies are explored. Results are validated by climate analysis and a review of the literature, showing that local farmers are proactively adapting to the climate.
The study concludes by highlighting the role of scientists in addressing these issues and proposing strategies to enhance collaboration between researchers and farmers.