Advanced Water Management for Food Production

Learn to identify and develop water resources and how to manage those resources for efficient water utilization for crop production and food security.

  • D
  • J

    What is Joint Programme

    Part of the programme is given at a partner institute, often in another country/continent. Joint programmes have varying start and end dates.

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Joint Programme, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA and IHE Delft, The Netherlands20 months, starts in October

For whom?

The target group for this specialization are professionals working at ministries, authorities, river basin and water users associations, universities, research institutes, civil society organizations, and consultants engaged in or interested in the fields of planning, water resources, agriculture, engineering, environment, public works, or related fields.


Students who successfully complete this double degree program will be awarded two Masters degrees: one from IHE Delft and one from UNL. The degree students receive from IHE Delft is the MSc degree in Water Science and Engineering with a specialization in Land and Water Development for Food Security. UNL will award the MS degree in Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering or Mechanized Systems Management, with a focus in Advanced Water Management for Food Production.


Start: 17 October 2019
Application deadline: 01 August 2019

Learning objectives

After completing this specialization, you will:

  • Have in-depth understanding and specific knowledge of the latest concepts and theories of irrigation, drainage, flood protection, land reclamation and consolidation technologies for food production;
  • Be able to use latest hydraulic engineering and hydrological methods to apply in planning, design and implementation of irrigation, drainage and flood protection schemes, independently or in a multidisciplinary team;
  • Be able to identify and cross-evaluate alternative land and water development options for areas under different land uses and assess their feasibility; technologically, economically, and environmentally;
  • Be able to engage in or advise developers, system managers and water users on the participatory development and management, including operation and maintenance of the irrigation, drainage and flood protection schemes;
  • Be able to identify and develop available water resources for food production
  • Be able to enhance the of on-farm irrigation systems through better design and management;
  • Be able to understand and formulate water management methodologies to enhance crop production with limited water supplies;
  • Acquire knowledge and understanding of contemporary research issues in the field of land and water development and water for food;
  • Be able to formulate research questions, articulate research methodologies, develop study plans, and adequately communicate research results and conclusions in written and oral forms to a wide variety of audience. 

Structure & contents

The Advanced Water Management for Food Production program offers students the opportunity to study in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA and Delft, the Netherlands at two institutions known for providing exceptional postgraduate education in water and agriculture: UNL and IHE Delft. The program consists of IHE Delft modules, each on average three weeks in duration, and ten UNL semester courses, each with a duration of 15 weeks. After completing coursework, students undertake an individual MS/MSc research project within a country of their choice and with the approval of their academic advisors. Students begin their studies in October at IHE Delft, the Netherlands, where they complete modules one through eight.

  • October - April

    IHE Delft, The Netherlands
    • Introduction to Water for Development Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Reflect critically on water related interventions, formulate own standpoint and engage constructively in debates
      2. Place the specialized knowledge on own discipline into a broader understanding of water related issues, challenges, debates and developments
      3. Recognize and distinguish different ways of knowing and framing water questions and problems in order to appraise water challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective
      4. Familiarize with the educational environment and procedures of IHE Delft and collaborate in multidisciplinary and intercultural teams
    • Introduction to Water Science and Engineering Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand the field of water science and engineering, identify its different specialisations and understand the structure of the programme at IHE
      2. Apply mathematical, statistical and frequency analysis concepts and techniques relevant to water science and engineering
      3. Describe geologic, geomorpholgical and anthropogenic processes at the surface of the Earth that form and sculpt landscapes
      4. Explain how to use different types of literature in scientific work in an ethical manner
    • Hydrology and Hydraulics Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the main concepts of steady/unsteady and uniform/non-uniform flow.
      2. Describe the principles and basic equations of water flow and to apply them to various practical situations.
      3. Explain the concepts of Geographical Information Systems and apply them in practical examples relevant to their specialization.
      4. Describe the main techniques of remote sensing and know when their use is appropriate or inappropriate.
      5. Carry out basic measurements in the wave and current flumes at the hydraulic laboratory.
      6. Describe and apply the concepts of hydrology needed for their specialisation.
    • Principles and Practices of Land and Water Development Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Analyse the relevance, concept, elements and needs of irrigation and drainage.
      2. Assess and evaluate various types of flow and apply the hydraulic principles for uniform and non-uniform open channel flow, and flow in specific hydraulic structures in irrigation and drainage engineering.
      3. Analyse and evaluate the design and operational aspects of various surface irrigation systems.
      4. Explian commonalities and differences between traditional and improved agronomic practices and plan improved irrigation agronomy and field water management
      5. Analyse soil-water-crop yield relationships, management options under land or water scarcity and water saving techniques, and be able to determine crop water requirements
      6. Understand the unique characteristics and technical and practical conditions for optimum application of different irrigation methods.
    • Design Aspects of Irrigation and Drainage Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Analyse, evaluate and apply the hydraulic principles for pipe flow in irrigation and drainage engineering.
      2. Make a preliminary layout and design of gravity irrigation and drainage networks.
      3. Determine the requirements for water table in irrigated area and design a subsurface drainage system
      4. Assess the need and implications of drainage
    • Irrigation and Drainage Design Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Present, process and interpret results of hydraulic laboratory measurements in a technical report
      2. Prepare detailed irrigation and drainage system layout and design that leads to optimum field water distribution uniformity, optimum productivity, minimizes costs, mitigates conflicts and facilitates cooperation among beneficiaries.
      3. Analyse, evaluate and apply the hydraulic principles in irrigation and drainage engineering.
      4. Assess the need and implication of proper irrigation and drainage management for salinity control
    • Management of Irrigation and Drainage Systems Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Demonstrate the role of property creation for the management and development of irrigation and drainage systems
      2. Assess the relevance and concepts of stakeholder participation in irrigation management
      3. Apply key concepts of irrigation performance assessment, including its role, types of assessment, criteria, indicators, benchmarking and targets, in addressing problems related to irrigation performance
      4. Use the IWMI water accounting framework to perform water accounting in irrigation schemes, interpret the results, provide situation analysis and formulate relevant recommendations for improvements.
      5. Explain the theory, key concepts, conceptual framework and merits of water accounting in irrigation schemes
      6. Evaluate objectives, tasks and types of irrigation management arrangements and its implications for irrigation peformance
      7. Discuss the importance of the social aspects that define the feasibility, implementation and continuation of land and water development projects
    • Conveyance and Irrigation Structures Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand the sediment transport mechanism and how to control sediment transport in canal systems
      2. Select a suitable flow control system, the appurtenant flow control systems and to specify the operation rules of the hydraulic structures and social implications of applied irrigation techniques for different users.
      3. Select the appropriate type of structure for irrigation and drainage networks, to establish the boundary conditions and to prepare a preliminary hydraulic design;
      4. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of various numerical schemes for solving sets of equations in surface flow modelling and to select the appropriate models for stationary and non-stationary flow in open channels and in pipes and to evaluate the
      5. Apply DUFLOW for non-steady flow phenomena in open irrigation and drainage networks; to evaluate the results and to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the model for solving surface flow problems;
      6. Make simple unsteady flow computations for open channel systems;
    • Food Security, Health and Environment Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Identify major potential health benefits and disease risks of agricultural water management
      2. Assess the importance and potential of nature-based solutions in agricultural water management
      3. Explain the opportunities and implications of wastewater use for irrigation
      4. Discuss the importance of environmental aspects, including climate change, which define the feasibility, implementation and continuation of land and water development projects
      5. Explain the importance of irrigation and drainage for food security and ecosysems in light of climate change

Upon completion of their IHE Delft coursework, students travel in May to UNL in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA to complete the remainder of their studies. This includes summer courses in research methodology, project proposal preparation, and field methods, followed by MS/MSc field research for their thesis. Thesis research will be advised by faculty from both UNL and IHE Delft. Following summer research field work, students take remaining courses and write their thesis, defend their thesis during the spring semester and graduate in May of their second year. Students will graduate at UNL.

  • May - May

    University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA

Tuition & fellowships

Information about tuition fees can be found here.

At this moment University Nebraska and IHE Delft are searching for scholarships for this programme. Until scholarships have been identified, this programme is not open for application. If you are interested we advise you to apply for admission to the Delft-based programme.

Application & Admission

Admission requirements

Academic admission to the Master programmes may be granted to applicants who provide evidence of having:

  • a university level Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field, which has been awarded by a university of recognised standing, comparable in level with a Bachelor degree from a research university in the Netherlands.
  • a good command of the English language, if this is not the first language. All non-native English-speaking applicants must satisfy the English language requirements for IHE Delft's educational programmes.
  • the undergraduate curriculum included a course in ordinary differential equations and fluid mechanics.
  • minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score 25th percentile in the verbal portion and 50th percentile in the quantitative portion. You have to take this test and follow the instructions. The GRE test results will be sent to IHE Delft directly. Only after receipt of these test results, your application will be taken into consideration. Therefore you are advised to sit for this test as soon as possible.For more information visit:

Several years of professional experience in an area of work related to the specialisation is an asset.

Please note: The GRE test results will be sent to IHE Delft directly, so there is no need to upload these results during your online application.

Application procedure

For admission to the programme please complete the online application, the link to the application section of our website is available at the top of this page.

You need to submit the following documents:

  • Certified copies of degrees/diplomas.
  • Certified copies of academic transcripts. Authenticated or certified copies are copies with an official stamp to verify that the copies are true copies of original documents. This official stamp may be from one of the following: a solicitor/notary, the educational institution from where the student gained the diplomas or the local council/local authority/local government office.
  • Two reference letters, preferably one from a person that can judge students' professional abilities and one from a person that can judge his/her academic abilities. One recommendation letter has to come from the current employer (if available) and another one from the university the student graduated from. Letters have to have an official letterhead and need to be signed.
  • Motivation letter (maximum 500 words explanation why he/she applies for admission to the chosen programme).
  • Copy of passport.
  • Copy of results of English language test score (if required, see English language requirements).

Please note all documents are required to be in English, or officially translated into English.

One cannot apply for more than one programme per academic year, unless there is a period of at least 3 months between the starting dates of the programmes of interest. If a student applies for an Erasmus Mundus programme for which Erasmus Mundus fellowships are available, he/she can also apply for another programme. If the other programme is also an Erasmus Mundus programme, the applicant can submit up to 3 applications.

More information

Further questions about the application procedure can be addressed to:

Ms Ineke Melis
Admission and Fellowship Officer


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