Hydrology and water management for agriculture

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
To learn about the main hydrological processes, the quantities that characterize them, the instrumentation and technologies for their measurement. To learn methods of investigation and monitoring techniques to describe the dynamics of water fluxes in the soil-crop-atmosphere system, in order to be able to estimate irrigation requirements and to schedule irrigation events in a rational way. To learn methods of investigation and monitoring techniques to characterize high intensity precipitation events and to describe processes of flood generation, for the design of hydraulic defense structures and river restoration interventions. To learn about the infrastructural components of collective irrigation systems: diversion infrustructures, convey and distribution networks, drainage networks. To investigate the management aspects and the hydraulic and hydrological problems associated with each individual component, also in relation to the interactions between urban centers and rural areas. To learn about the main planning tools for irrigation and reclamation at the regionale scale. To acquire awareness of the link among water use, agricultural production and energy consumption with a view to sustainable use of natural resources.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will develop expertise related to the acquisition and analysis of meteorological and hydrological data; to the use of GIS software for the processing of spatial information at the farm and territorial scales; to the implementation of a dynamic water balance model for the simulation of the soil-crop-atmosphere system and its use for the scheduling of irrigation events; to the implementation of a dynamic model for the estimation of the flood hydrogram at the closing section of a hydrographic basin and its use for the design of hydraulic defense structures and river restoration interventions. Additionally, the student will acquire the ability to elaborate hydrometric series of river flows for the evaluation of the divertable flow discherges in respect of the ecological river flow, to estimate irrigation needs at the irrigation district and regional scales, to evaluate the efficiency of convey and distribution networks and irrigation methods, and to estimate groundwater recharge and irrigation tailwater at the territorial scale.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The teaching method may vary depending on the state of the COVID-19 health emergency. For both the UDs (UD1 and UD2) the frontal lectures alone (3 CFU) or also the practical lessons (3+1 CFU) could be conducted through distance teaching methods (through MS Teams). The course lecturers will be responsible for informing the students on the ways in which the lessons will be carried out well in advance of the beginning of the 2nd semester.
Course syllabus
3 CFU (Frontal lessons) - Study of the hydrological cycle and basis of hydrological processes such as precipitation, rainfall interception, evapotranspiration, infiltration and percolation. Methods of physical and mechanical soil analysis and study of soil hydrological properties. Analysis of water movements in saturated and unsaturated soils. Measurement of the main hydrological variables. Calculation of crop water and irrigation needs and irrigation scheduling (irrigation amount and frequency). Estimation of the hydrological balance at a field scale. Statistical analysis of the extreme hydrological events. Calculation of the river discharge duration curves. Assessment of project precipitation. Calculation of hydrological losses using models based on Horton or on Curve Number. Evaluation of the critical rainfall duration. Analysis of runoff processes. Evaluation of the river catchment peak of discharge through rational method, lag-time method and statistical analysis of observed flows.
1 CFU (Practicals in computer lab) - Calculation of crop water needs according to FAO-56 method for different crops and soils, assessment of the irrigation water need at the irrigation district scale (8 hours). Estimation of the river peak discharge under conditions of different rainfall return time and land use changes (8 hours).
3 CFU (Frontal lessons) - Fundamentals of legislation on water resources: European and national regulations; the role of the Water Framework Directive; functions and duties of the River Basin Authorities; functions and tasks of the Regions; characteristics, functions and tasks of the Irrigation and Reclamation Consortia. Flood service; hydraulic police; procedures for the issue/renewal of licenses for water withdrawal and use. Monitoring and quantification of irrigation uses of water resources: national and regional rules and procedures; the SIGRIAN information system. Water diversions from rivers and ecological flows. Elements of hydrometry; analysis of series of hydrometric data: flow duration curve and methods of regionalization. Notes on the maintenance of waterways in rural areas.
1 CFU (Practicals in computer lab) - Processing of hydrometric data for the calculation of the flow duration curve in the cross-section of a watercourse and for the calculation of the Ecological Flow downstream of a diversion; analysis and discussion of the project topic to be presented for the exam (for groups of students).
Prerequisites for admission
In order to successfully follow the course, students should meet the following requirements: (a) good theoretical basis of hydraulics; (b) good familiarity with personal computers (Windows environment, word processing and calculation programs).
Teaching methods
Both UDs are articulated into 3 CFU of frontal lectures (24 hours) and 1 CFU of practicals (16 hours). During the computer classroom training hours, the following software will be mainly used: Excel (spreadsheets with the implementation of calculation procedures), QGIS, CAD, Matlab. The attendance at lectures and practicals is strongly recommended. Missed lessons can be substituted by self-study using the reference material indicated by the course lecturer.
Teaching Resources
For students who have to address previous knowledge gaps, textbook: FONDAMENTI DI IDRAULICA. Mario Gallati e Stefano Sibilla. Carocci Editore, 2009.
· Lecture notes available on line (http://ariel.unimi.it)
· Ferro V. (2006). Elementi di idraulica e idrologia per le scienze agrarie ed ambientali. Mc Graw Hill
· Moisello U. (1998). Idrologia tecnica. La Goliardica Pavese.
· Maione U. - Moisello U. (1993). Elementi di statistica per l'idrologia. La Goliardica Pavese.
· Gribbin J.E. (2013). Introduction to Hydraulics & Hydrology. Delmar Pub; IV edizione
Materials can be found in the course website within the Ariel platform and they include:
· copy of the slides shown during lectures and practicals;
· supplementary material (scientific papers, technical manuals, list of additional references).
Assessment methods and Criteria
UD1: HYDROLOGY - The exam consists of a short, written test (15 min) with multiple choice questions, the passing of which gives access to the oral exam. The latter mainly focuses on the discussion of a report on the tasks assigned during the practicals in the computer lab; the report must be drawn up individually or in pairs and delivered within the deadline for registering for the exam through the dedicated University Service. The final evaluation will be the sum of the evaluations of the written test (max 5 points), the report (max 10 points) and the oral exam (max 15 points). The outcome of the written test, that will be communicated short after its conclusion, is valid only for the appeal in which it is taken.
UD2: IRRIGATION SYSTEMS FOR AGRICULTURE - U.D. MANAGEMENT - The exam consists of an oral presentation and discussion of a report on one of the topics covered in the course. The subject of the report is assigned during the course and must be developed as a group work (small groups of 5 students maximum). The report must be written and delivered within the deadline for registering for the exam through the dedicated University Service. Each student can also deliver a brief individual report on the activity carried out during the exercises, which can be assessed up to a maximum of 3 points. The final evaluation of the UD2 is determined as the average of the evaluation of the oral test and of the written paper, plus the bonus eventually acquired with the exercise.
The following aspects will be assessed during the exam for both UD1 and UD2: acquired knowledge, level of understanding, reasoning and connection skills, communication skills using appropriate sector terminology, ability to organize a detailed and effective technical document.
The final grade (UD1 + UD2) will be computed as the average those obtained for the single UDs.
Enrolment in the exam must be done through the dedicated University Service.
If not attending the exam once registered, please cancel the registration within the terms indicated (or in any case communicate it by email to the teacher). In case of unjustified absence, the teacher has the right to prevent registration for the next session.
For students with Specific Learning Disorders refer to the provisions of the Student Guide and the DSA Service of the University (https://www.unimi.it/en/study/student-services/services-students-specif…).
Gestione delle risorse idriche in agricoltura
Computer room practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours
Computer room practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 24 hours