IAHR, founded in 1935, is a worldwide independent member-based organisation of engineers and water specialists working in fields related to the hydro-environmental sciences and their practical application. Activities range from river and maritime hydraulics to water resources development and eco-hydraulics, through to ice engineering, hydroinformatics, and hydraulic machinery.
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You are here : eLibrary : IAHR World Congress Proceedings : 35th IAHR Congress - Chengdu (2013) : THEME 3 - WATER ENGINEERING AND CIVILIZATION : Sustainable Irrigation Practices in Al-Andalus
Sustainable Irrigation Practices in Al-Andalus
Author : Jos‚ Rold n-Ca¤as and Marˇa F tima Moreno-P‚rez
In the western Islamic world of the Middle Ages, water culture emerged as a direct result of the middle-eastern agricultural legacy handed down through the centuries, and gained substantial and productive momentum despite the difficulties posed by insufficient and irregular water resources. In fact, water holds a very special cultural meaning and bearing in Islam; evidenced by its religious, mythic, secular and material expressions. The Islamic contribution to irrigation during the al-Andalus period is beyond question. The transfer of scientific and technical knowledge from east to west and even as far as America has been clearly demonstrated. Proof of this lies in the Arabic place names and terminology used to represent irrigation practices and water use in Spain. Irrigation agriculture led to the unprecedented intensification of agricultural practices during the Islamic Middle Ages. The new agroecological system that was established in the irrigated districts of the Islamic period was not just a consequence of water, but also of the introduction of different plant species foreign to the Iberian Peninsula. Although irrigation is an artificial agricultural technique, its practice in the Islamic era was environmentally sound and sustainably integrated with the surroundings, aligning perfectly with present-day philosophy. Indeed, the recommendations of the time advocated applying just the right amount of water (saving water) in order to avoid salinization (prevent soil contamination) and flooding (to facilitate root respiration). It also prevents water loss irrigating beside the tree (irrigation by alcorques) and at night (less evaporation and transpiration). The use of groundwater rather than transporting surface water from other areas is also recommended. These practices ensured farmers a supply of water during periods of drought. One of the major challenges faced by Moorish irrigators was the painstaking leveling of irrigation plots, which, in addition to ensuring a uniform distribution of water, also prevented soil erosion. The development of the concept of an ?irrigated hydraulic space? or ?hydraulic domain? provided farmers with the means to irrigate large areas without having to employ additional energy other than that supplied by gravity-fed diversion canals or acequias. And last but not least, the inhabitants of al-Andalus were nature lovers so it comes as no surprise their poetic evocations of the rural world including irrigation.
File Size : 462,956 bytes
File Type : Adobe Acrobat Document
Chapter : IAHR World Congress Proceedings
Category : 35th IAHR Congress - Chengdu (2013)
Article : THEME 3 - WATER ENGINEERING AND CIVILIZATION
Date Published : 18/07/2016
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