4.1 Description of the Research Centers
CLM counts on a high number of research centers related to agriculture. This is due to the social and economic importance of the agrarian sector in the region. Subsequently, the main characteristics of the most important groups are briefly described. It is necessary to indicate that, although they are all independent, there have been many occasions in which they have worked together and continue to. In fact, the activities that each one of them performs are complementary to the others, carrying out important work for the society of CLM.
4.1.1 Regional Water Research Center (Centro Regional de Estudios Del Agua, CREA)
The risk of desertification is increasing in extensive zones of the world. CLM is a semiarid zone where the processes of desertification will be relevant in the next few years. In order to try to stop this eventuality, the University of CLM has created various research teams that focus their attention on the problems of water availability. With the purpose of coordinating all of these research groups, in 2001 the CREA was established (http://crea.uclm.es).
CREA is a university center of research and technological development. The main objectives of CREA are:
• To provide scientific and technical support to the public and private institutions, companies and users of water. To contribute to satisffy the demand of technologies, products and services that favors innovation and improves competitiveness.
• To promote the development of initiatives, directed toward rational and sustainable water use, and favoring the conservation of the environment and looking for maximum coordination between the private and public sector.
In order to achieve the previous objectives, CREA has structured its activities in six sections. Each one of them is composed of multidisciplinary teams that collaborate closely. The main activities of each one of the sections are:
• Agricultural water use: Coordination of the tasks related to the SIAR; Agricultural water management under conditions of limited water availability; Field tests to improve the use of water in agriculture.
• Economy and law: Study of the current legislation at the Communitarian, National and Regional level from an environmental and water use perspective; Elaboration of economic reports on the effects of the use of this resource in regional agriculture.
• Management of water resources. This section is dedicated to the development of models that aid in the decision making process in terms of water used for agricultural purposes.
• Surface and groundwater hydrology: Development of models for the evaluation of water resources in their natural state, as well as for the estimation of the water demand pattern and water balances.
• Hydraulic engineering: Development of projects related to the transformation of rainfed areas into irrigated areas; to support the main manufacturing companies of irrigation materials in the region.
• Limnology and hydrobiology: Monitoring and evaluation of the chemical and biological quality of the main bodies of water in the region (surface and groundwater); Studies on residual water purification.
The staff that works directly in CREA is composed of 28 PhD holders, 13 Engineers and Graduates of various fields, and approximately 15 students. The majority of the PhD holders whom work in CREA develop their curriculum in the Technical School of Agricultural Engineers of Albacete, which belongs to the UCLM.
4.1.2. Institute of Regional Development (Instituto de Desarrollo Regional, IDR). Division of Remote Sensing
IDR (http://www.idr-ab.uclm.es), established in 1994, is a Centre of the UCLM devoted to Research and Development in several scientific areas of special application and importance in this region. The IDR's work is based in the ambition to contribute to the development of Castilla La-Mancha.
Remote Sensing and GIS have been an independent division of the IDR since September of 1994. This Division is a multidisciplinary and interdepartmental group made up of geologists, physicists, computer scientists, and agricultural, telecommunications and forestry engineers, etc., who bring their specific training into the development of different studies and R+D projects.
Remote Sensing and GIS are utilized in the development and application of Remote Sensing techniques, image and storage analyses, and coordination and study of any kind of information related to space.
The main lines of research that this group is developing in relation to the use of the water in agriculture are as follows:
• Remote sensing: Development and application of Earth Observation techniques and digital image manipulation. Furthermore, this section works in coordination with specialists in the development of new techniques and methodologies to be applied to an understanding of the physical environment. Some of the better developed lines of research within this field are of crop monitoring, detection of land cover alteration and estimation of evapotranspiration through remote sensing.
• Geographic Information Systems: Design, development, update and maintenance of GIS. There is a group of specialists in computer science, which program and develop the necessary tools for each case; GIS Technologies allow the quality control of the digital land registry that is used for the accomplishment of projects.
• Hydrology: Application of Remote Sensing and GIS technologies to the management of water resources; Hydrologic study and modeling (both surface and ground): aquifer dynamics, estimation of refill, runoff, rainfall space distribution, studies on soil erosion, etc; Development of tools for the management of water resources.
4.1.3 Provincial Technical Institute of Agriculture in Albacete (Instituto Técnico Agronómico Provincial de Albacete, S.A., ITAP)
ITAP (www.itap.es) is a public service that was created by the Diputación de Albacete in 1986. Its scope is the farming and agro-alimentary sector of the province of Albacete. Its objective is the transfer of technology from science to rural communities.
The main services that the ITAP offers to the farmers are as follows:
• Irrigation Advisory Service (Servicio de Asesoramiento al Regante, SAR).
• Control of agricultural plagues and diseases.
• Crop fertilization advisory service and soil analysis.
• Advisory service of Integrated and Organic Agriculture.
ITAP also develops its own research in two experimental farms. The lines of research are related to the water requirements and irrigation scheduling of crops. This institute, in collaboration with the UCLM, has published numerous studies on controlled deficit irrigation and on direct measures of the reference evapotranspiration and consumption of crops (herbaceous and ligneous) obtained with lysimeters of continuous weight, one of them monolithic (the one used for vineyard tests). In addition, it also develops experiments on new varieties of crops in the zone and in the management of the fertilization.
4.1.4 Center of Agricultural Improvement "El Chaparrillo" (Centro de Mejora Agraria "El Chaparrillo")
"El Chaparrillo", located in Ciudad Real, was established in May of 1987. Initially, the main activities of this public center of research were: the constitution of the Regional Network of Agricultural Warnings (Estación Regional de Avisos Agrícolas); recovery of crab and indigenous partridge populations; recovery of wild fauna; and control of livestock disease.
Since 1986, this center has developed the following new lines of research:
• Irrigation: Calculation of crops water requirements and scheduling irrigation.
• Extensive crops: Introduction of new varieties and crops; management and adaptation of crops; quality and harvesting improvement.
• Horticultural crops: Introduction of new crops and varieties; management and adaptation of crops.
• Olive tree cultivations: Introduction of new varieties; management and adaptation of crops; quality and harvesting improvement.
• Pistachio tree cultivations: Management and adaptation of crops; quality and harvesting improvement.
Of the aforementioned, their contribution to the sustainable use of irrigation water should be emphasized. These actions are directed toward the determination of the actual water requirements of different crops of importance to the zone. The experiments involving controlled deficit irrigation are of special importance (Table 17).
The reduction in water use for agriculture is achieved by cultivating crops with lower water requirements than the current crops, which also generate an adequate level of income.With this aim, "El Chaparrillo has developed several experiments to study the introduction of new crops to the region. The pistachio tree is a good example of the positive results of this line of research. In terms of the horticultural crops, the melon is a crop with great possibilities.
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