Connecting the Water and Carbon Cycles for the Generation of Food Security and Ecosystem Services

Shivaan M. Burke, Raul Poncé-Hernandez


Water scarcity and food insecurity are pervasive issues in the developing world and are also intrinsically linked to one another. Through the connection of the water cycle and the carbon cycle this study illustrates that synergistic benefits can be realized by small scale farmers through the implementation of waste water irrigated agroforestry. The WaNuLCAS model is employed using La Huerta agroforestry site in Texcoco, South Central Mexico, as the basis for parameterization. The results of model simulations depicting scenarios of water scarcity and waste water irrigation clearly show that the addition of waste water greatly increases the agroforestry system’s generation of crop yields, above- and below-ground biomass, soil organic matter and carbon storage potential. This increase in carbon sequestration by the system translates into better local food security, diversified household income through payments for ecosystem services and contributes to the mitigation of global climate change.

Keywords: agroforestry; wastewater irrigation; carbon sequestration; water scarcity; food security; ecosystem services

Submitted: 13 January 2014; Revised 31 May 2014; Accepted for publication: 2 June 2014; Published: 10 June 2014


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