Skip to main content
[Translate to English:]
© Johanna Fick
[Translate to English:]
Institute of

LV Rural Studies


Irrigation Demand of Agriculture in Hesse

Grain irrigation
© Folkhard Isermeyer
Grain field is supplied with water

Quantification of the Irrigation Demand und its Assurance for Agriculture (incl. Horticulture and Viticulture) in Hesse

The irrigation demand of agriculture is increasing due to climate change. What is the situation in Hesse? Which developments can be expected and how is an assurance of the water availability possible?

Background and Objective

The climate change is causing the average temperatures to rise and changes in the precipitation. Germany has experienced repeated droughts in the recent past. Climate forecasts indicate that in the future plants will more often not have enough water available during the growing season. With increasing water scarcity, the irrigation of agricultural cultures is becoming more important. In addition to the irrigation demand and the water supply, the profitability, the so-called economic efficiency of irrigation, also plays a role. 
The aim of the project is to determine the current status of agricultural irrigation for Hesse and the focus regions Hessisches Ried and Untermainebene as well as to estimate the future development of irrigation. The focus is on economic efficiency of irrigation and the analysis of strategies to assure the water availability. 

Target Group

Policymakers, agricultural producers, advisors, regional water associations, chambers of agriculture, interested professionals and the general public, science


The project is built on the previous studies of the Institute of Rural Studies of the Thuenen Institute and is structured in the following work packages: 

  1. Analysis of the state of research and status quo of irrigation in Hesse
  2. Extension of the existing model for the estimation the current and future regional irrigation demand by the component “water demand for frost protection irrigation” and application of the model
  3. Analysis of strategies to assure the water availability for agriculture under consideration of technology, alternative water resources and organisational structures
  4. Analysis of measures and instruments as well as existing funding opportunities with regard to the sustainable assurance of water availability
  5. Extension of the model by the economic efficiency of irrigation (for selected cultures)
  6. Scenario-based analysis of climate change-related regional adaption strategies for irrigated agriculture

Data and Methods

Spatial data on a daily basis is used to model the regional irrigation demand. These include climatic parameters like temperature and precipitation, land use and soil data as well as information regarding the phenology. Climate projection data of the RCP-scenario 8.5 of the German Weather Service is used to determine future developments. In addition, data on prices, yields and costs of irrigation are included for the irrigation economic efficiency. Groundwater recharge data is available from the Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology for the assessment of water supply.

Our Research Questions

  • What is the current state of irrigation in Hesse?
  • What was the regional irrigation demand of agriculture in Hesse for the ex-post period 1991-2020?
  • How will the regional irrigation demand in Hesse develop until 2050?
  • How can the irrigation economic efficiency be represented in the model and how will it change?
  • What potential do alternative water resources offer for assuring resource availability for agricultural irrigation?
  • What instruments and measures are available to assure water availability for agricultural irrigation exists and what funding opportunities exist?
  • What are the potential impacts of agricultural adaption strategies on regional irrigation demands?

Preliminary Results

As previous studies for the states Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia have shown, the irrigation demand has increased in the past und will continue to increase in future. This trend can not only be observed in typical irrigation regions, but will also extend to regions that have so far been less characterised by irrigation.
The project will enable statements to be made on the expected change in irrigation demand in the municipalities of Hesse and on the effectiveness of adaption strategies. The project results can serve authorities, advisory services and associations as information base and decision-making aid for the design and implementation of agricultural and water policy measures.
In addition, the existing model for estimating the irrigation demand will be extended by the irrigation economic efficiency. Synergies will be realised with the LAWAMAD project, in which the model is used for a nationwide analysis.

Funding Body

  • Bundesland Hessen
    (national, öffentlich)


8.2022 - 1.2025

More Information

Project status: ongoing

Publications to the project

    Scroll to top