Introduction

The research group Water and Energy for Sustainable Agriculture (AEAS) is formed by researchers in the field of agroforestry engineering. All members are Agricultural Engineers, working at the Universidad Miguel Hernandez in Orihuela Campus.

Water and energy are the main resources for economic, social and environmental development of a territory. Irrigation is a cornerstone of Spanish agri-food system: irrigated agriculture contributes over 50% of final agricultural production occupying only 13% of the agricultural area of our country. The modernization and consolidation of Spanish irrigation infrastructures has reduced water consumption by over 20% in the period 1975 to 2007, but at the same time has led to an increase in energy consumption of over 650% in that period. Intensive production in greenhouses also contributes to increase the energy consumption in agriculture, mainly due to the use of heating systems. Energy, an essential element of economic activity, is basic for the functioning of modern irrigation systems, but their consumption is responsible for a large percentage of emissions of greenhouse gases. Water and energy are key in irrigated agriculture, so it is critical to progress in improving the efficiency of both resources.

Our research interests are focused on optimizing the use of these resources, on applying renewable energy in heating greenhouses, on analyzing the economic viability of the technology in agriculture and on the automation and remote management of water and energy.

22 February 2012