Land use as possible strategy for managing water table depth in flat basins with shallow groundwater

Pablo E. García, Angel N. Menénendez, Guillermo Podestá, Federico Bert, Poonam Arora, Esteban Jobbágy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In flat plains groundwater affects agricultural production outcomes and risks. Agricultural land use decisions, however, may strongly impact groundwater levels available for production. This paper explores the scope for managing groundwater levels through land use decisions in a sub-basin of the Salado River in the Argentine Pampas, a very flat area that plays a key role in world agricultural production. A spatially distributed hydrological model implemented with MIKE SHE software was used to establish the impacts of different land uses on groundwater dynamics, and to assess the interdependencies among spatially close decision-makers sharing a water table (WT). Additionally, groundwater level changes in response to climate variability were quantified. We found land use has strong effects on WT levels both for oneself (e.g. pastures can lead to significant decreases (up to 4.5 m) in WT levels) and others, in the form of strong interdependencies that exist between farmers sharing a WT where land use decisions of one farmer effect groundwater level of neighbouring farms and vice versa. However, the effectiveness to control groundwater levels through land use decisions is subject to the rather unpredictable effects of rainfall variability. The results presented in this paper provide key insights in relation to physical and social aspects that should be considered for managing groundwater levels through land use decisions, in order to avoid negative and/or maximize positive effects on agricultural production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-92
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of River Basin Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018


  • Argentine pampas
  • Land use change
  • climate variability
  • groundwater dynamics
  • hydrological modelling
  • interdependencies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Land use as possible strategy for managing water table depth in flat basins with shallow groundwater'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this