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Sustainable water use securing food production in dry areas of the Mediterranean region (SWUP-MED)


The multiple abiotic stresses are becoming even more pronounced under changing climate, predicted to result in drier conditions, increasing temperatures, and greater variability, causing desertification. The overall objective of the project was to improve the cropping systems of the Mediterranean region, suffering from increasing drought, saline soils and temperature extremes. 

The project worked to improve farming systems, by strengthening a diversified crop rotation and using marginal-quality water for supplemental irrigation, aiming at:

  • Introducing and testing new climate-proof crops and cultivars with improved stress tolerance
  • Investigating the environmental effects related to irrigation water quality
  • Developing a research synthesis in dialogue with food sector, based on experimental results and advanced simulation modelling to improve farming systems management

More in details, the project has analyzed the replacement of existing mono-cropping by crop rotations combining wheat with three food legumes (chickpea, faba bean and lentil) and two new crops (quinoa and amaranth). Alternative water sources were introduced, combined with optimal water use by new, supplemental irrigation techniques.

A strenght of this project was the introduction of new climate-proof crops and the improvement in cropping systems´ management. Based on an assessment of the systems, new varieties and species with improved tolerance to drought and salinity were introduced in the crop rotations of rainfed and irrigated farming systems. In addition, new irrigation techniques were tested, such as deficit irrigation, applied as supplemental irrigation and three water sources were mobilized: water from rainwater harvesting, saline and treated wastewater, which all contribute to saving of fresh water, and to increase yield of the cropping systems of small-scale farmers.

Different guidelines were produced by the project on different aspects: crop and land management under multiple stresses, how to conserve soil moisture, crop management under saline conditions, irrigation strategies and use of marginal quality water, and socio-economic impacts of the activities.

Project information


Sven-Erik Jacobsen, University of Copenhagen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences


International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Aleppo (Syria), Universidade Nova de Lisboa-Instituto de Tecnologia Quimica e Biológica, Oeiras (P), National Research Council of Italy - Institute for Agricultural and Forest Mediterranean Systems, Napoli (IT), Natural Environment Research Council, NERC, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, CEH –Wallingford (UK), Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe, Cairo (Egypt), Institut Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II, Rabat (Morocco), Cukurova University-Faculty of Agriculture, Adana (Turkey), University of Western Australia, Institute of Agriculture, Crawley (Australia).

Source of funding

SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME, THEME 2 [Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology] Total cost: € 3.929.765

Reference information


Published in Climate ADAPT Jul 20 2016   -   Last Modified in Climate ADAPT Feb 24 2021

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