Drought is the natural hazard that causes the most significant impacts on the agricultural sector. Risk reduction actions and effective water management strategies play a key role to face water crisis due to droughts and, other weather extremes such as heat waves. The Po River Basin is the largest Italian watershed, covering a surface of 71.000 km², and is the main agricultural area of the country. The area was interested by several drought events in the past years with severe impacts on agriculture; between 2005 and 2007 agricultural losses caused by droughts were estimated to be around 1.850 M€. Surveys have been proposed to local farmers to identify past droughts that have impacted their crops and to understand their water management strategies during those events. Past droughts have also been identified computing the SPEI Index using the EOBS gridded dataset. The comparison between the events identified through SPEI and the ones highlighted in survey results evidenced coherence in timing and lengths of the events. Adaptation strategies to cope with droughts have been identified through the collected surveys. Farmers were asked to answer if they applied irrigation during past droughts, which were the preferred irrigation strategies (i.e., irrigate at night, irrigate a reduced area to their full irrigation, irrigate the full area to a reduced irrigation, crop prioritization, etc) and which were their decisional criteria to establish when they had to start irrigation. Information on the availability of public or private insurance coverages were collected too, as well as on the grade of satisfaction of farmers about them. The economic cost of adaptation strategies was also estimated through surveys responses, together with the economic damage experienced by farmers due to both yield losses and irrigation expenses. From preliminary results, it was found that droughts occurring in different plant growing stages cause very different economic damages in terms of yield reduction, with different additional costs related to irrigation. irrigation and the amount of water resources allocated. It was also found that, regarding farmers’ grade of satisfaction on insurance coverage, farmers who applied irrigation did not acquire insurance coverages, while farmers who haven’t used irrigation trusted more on insurance.
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