Economic and environmental impact assessment of sustainable future irrigation practices in the Indus Basin of Pakistan. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pakistan's agriculture is characterized by insecure water supply and poor irrigation practices. We investigate the economic and environmental feasibility of alternative improved irrigation technologies (IIT) by estimating the site-specific irrigation costs, groundwater anomalies, and CO2 emissions. IIT consider different energy sources including solar power in combination with changes in the irrigation method. The status quo irrigation costs are estimated to 1301 million US$ year-1, its groundwater depletion to 6.3mmyear-1 and CO2 emissions to 4.12 million t year-1, of which 96% originate from energy consumption and 4% via bicarbonate extraction from groundwater. Irrigation costs of IIT increase with all energy sources compared to the status quo, which is mainly based on diesel engine. This is because of additional variable and fixed costs for system's operation. Of these, subsidized electricity induces lowest costs for farmers with 63% extra costs followed by solar energy with 77%. However, groundwater depletion can even be reversed with 35% rise in groundwater levels via IIT. Solar powered irrigation can break down CO2 emissions by 81% whilst other energy sources boost emissions by up to 410%. Results suggest that there is an extremely opposing development between economic and ecological preferences, requiring stakeholders to negotiate viable trade-offs.

published proceedings

  • Sci Rep

author list (cited authors)

  • Muzammil, M., Zahid, A., & Breuer, L.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Muzammil, Muhammad||Zahid, Azlan||Breuer, Lutz

publication date

  • December 2021