Rethinking irrigated almond and pistachio intensification: a shift towards a more sustainable water management paradigm
Global warming is increasing the variability of rainfall and temperature, peculiarly, in arid and semiarid environments, provoking an augmentation in the crop water requirements, and therefore, a collapse in the water resources systems. This review work discusses the potential benefits of deficit irrigation (DI) as a strategy for water management, reducing the vulnerability of woody-fruit crops in the Mediterranean area. In this context, almond (Prunus dulcis Mill.) and pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) are traditional Mediterranean crops well-adapted to rainfed conditions with highly producer potential under irrigation, and therefore, both fruit crops are convenient alternative due to its congenital response to water-stress. In general, moderate DI enables to save about 30% of irrigation water at yield reductions below 20%. Thus, the application of DI could be recommended especially in those areas where the full water requirements for crops are not available due to environmental constrains. In addition, the success of DI is based on relevant knowledge of crop phenological development and its physiological reaction to water stress. Thus, under climate change, the implementation of properly managed fruit plantations with DI is vital to stabilize yields, increase water-use efficiency, and preserve the production quality.