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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 438317, 12 pages
Research Article

Emergy Evaluation of a Production and Utilization Process of Irrigation Water in China

1Key Laboratory of Efficient Irrigation-Drainage and Agricultural Soil-Water Environment in Southern China of Ministry of Education, College of Water Conservancy and Hydropower Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
2College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China
3College of Harbor, Coastal and Offshore Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China

Received 30 June 2013; Accepted 31 July 2013

Academic Editors: Z. Dai and A. Gudmundsson

Copyright © 2013 Dan Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Sustainability evaluation of the process of water abstraction, distribution, and use for irrigation can contribute to the policy of decision making in irrigation development. Emergy theory and method are used to evaluate a pumping irrigation district in China. A corresponding framework for its emergy evaluation is proposed. Its emergy evaluation shows that water is the major component of inputs into the irrigation water production and utilization systems (24.7% and 47.9% of the total inputs, resp.) and that the transformities of irrigation water and rice as the systems’ products (  sej/J and  sej/J, resp.; sej/J = solar emjoules per joule) represent their different emergy efficiencies. The irrigated agriculture production subsystem has a higher sustainability than the irrigation water production subsystem and the integrated production system, according to several emergy indices: renewability ratio (%R), emergy yield ratio (EYR), emergy investment ratio (EIR), environmental load ratio (ELR), and environmental sustainability index (ESI). The results show that the performance of this irrigation district could be further improved by increasing the utilization efficiencies of the main inputs in both the production and utilization process of irrigation water.