Science Inventory

Holistic Sustainability Assessment of Agricultural Rainwater Harvesting


Ghimire, S. AND JohnM Johnston. Holistic Sustainability Assessment of Agricultural Rainwater Harvesting. 2018 National Conference and Global Forum, DC, Washington, January 23 - 25, 2018.


Presented at the NCSE's 18th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment: The Science, Business, and Education of Sustainable Infrastructure: Building Resilience in a Changing World


We present a methodology for holistic sustainability assessment of green infrastructure, applied to agricultural rainwater harvesting (RWH) in the Albemarle-Pamlico river basin. It builds upon prior work in the region through the use of detailed, crop-level management information on the cultivation of major corps, and extends the prior analyses by calculating holistic sustainability scores of agricultural RWH by integrating environmental, economic, and social-human health indicators. Using the USDA Cropland Data Layer, a network of basin-wide RWH systems is established. Sixteen decision management objectives (DMOs) that combine four major crops (pasture-green, soybean, corn, and cotton) and four RWH configurations are used to illustrate the methodology. Sixteen DMOs of agricultural RWH differed by tank material (Polyethylene versus concrete, with/without pump) and irrigating crop types. Using life cycle cost assessment and life cycle impact assessment, seven sustainability indicators (cumulative energy demand, global warming potential, blue water use, ecotoxicity, eutrophication, human health-cancer, and life cycle costs of the DMOs) are estimated. Holistic sustainability scores are calculated with an improved version of Data Envelopment Analysis. The holistic sustainability scores varied with the DMO; DMOs consisting no pump systems with Polyethylene Tank for pasture-green, cotton, corn, and soybeans irrigation were found to be the most sustainable DMOs with corresponding scores of 1.00, 0.88, 0.58, and 0.48, respectively. The methodology is applicable to evaluate holistic sustainability of alternative RWH design configurations in the face of global climate change, water scarcity and crop irrigation. Future work is directed towards extending the sustainability indicators at the river basin scale.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 01/25/2018
Record Last Revised: 02/28/2018
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 339814