Water drives agricultural production in many parts of the world. Indeed, the ‘Green Revolution’ was so successful in reducing hunger because the increased use of irrigation was one of the factors behind the successful increase in crop production. However, in the 21st century, demand by industry, demand by urban populations and demands to maintain environmental flows and water quality will reduce the water available for irrigated agriculture. Moreover, climate change is predicted to reduce rainfall and increase rainfall variability in many agricultural systems. Thus, the issue for crop science is how to increase, production with less water available for irrigation and less reliable rainfall that limits dryland agriculture in many parts of the world.
The two plenary papers in this theme address the issue of water scarcity, the competition for water for other uses, its potential impact on cropping systems and genetic and management solutions for addressing the issue in both irrigated and dryland agriculture. In the symposia, speakers will address the potential to increase water productivity of crops by breeding and better management of irrigated systems, such as irrigated rice, and by improvements in rainfall use efficiency of dryland cropping systems. Finally, system sustainability and the effects of agriculture on water leaving the system leading to, for example, secondary salinity, will be addressed.