Abebe Chukalla

Lecturer/Researcher in Irrigation Engineering


Abebe Demissie Chukalla is a lecturer/researcher in Irrigation Engineering in the Land and Water Management Department, IHE Delft. Abebe Joined IHE Delft as a lecture in Remote Sensing and Water Productivity in Water Accounting and Water Productivity group in July 2019. Before joining IHE Delft, Abebe was a postdoc researcher at Wageningen University Department of Water Resources Management on a project ‘Checks and Balances for RUE assessment: reducing yield gaps while accounting for nutrient- and water fluxes across spatiotemporal scales. He holds PhD from the University of Twente Department of Water Resources Engineering and Management, the PhD research was part of EU funded project, FIGARO (Flexible and precIse irriGation plAtform to improve faRm scale water productivity), his dissertation is on ‘Green, blue and grey water footprint reduction in irrigated crop production (2017). He holds MSc from IHE Delft Institute for Water Eduction in Hydraulic Engineering – Land and Water Development, his dissertation is on ‘Use of Flash Floods for Optimising Productivity in Irrigation, the case of Boru Dodota Spate Irrigation Scheme, Ethiopia’ (2010).

He has applied python, and models such as AquaCrop, (Arc)APEX, NAM, (Q)GIS and other tools that he (co)developed as part of the projects and during his studies, i.e., (i) Protocol for Remote Sensing-Based Agricultural Performance Assessment using WaPOR Data (https://github.com/wateraccounting/WAPORWP); (ii) a shadow daily water-balance approach for partitioning green and blue water, for accounting green ET, blue ET and water footprint - a tool coded in Python during his PhD research); and (iii) Surface Storage & Irrigation Scheme Planning (SSISP) model - developed based on Macro-Excel as part of his MSc thesis.

Research Summary

With the overall goal to address concerns of water scarcity and food security, he is interested in developing, adapting, and applying tools, concepts, and data (remote sensing derived and field) across ago-hydrological scales (field, irrigation, river basin) for the following purposes:

  • Diagnosing, explaining, and improving agricultural performances including resource use-efficiency, land- and water-productivity.
  • Modernization of irrigation schemes
  • Analyze precision, regenerative, and climate-smart irrigated agriculture
  • Define and analyze trends and scenarios of land and water development for food production
  • Evaluate indicators for sustainable agricultural intensification 
  • Accounting green-, blue- and grey water footprint; and virtual water flow in food production and export
  • Defining and evaluating socio-economic and environmental thresholds.


1. Chukalla, A.D., Mul, M.L., van der Zaag, P., van Halsema, G., Mubaya, E., Muchanga, E., den Besten, N. and Karimi, P., 2021. A Framework for Irrigation Performance Assessment Using WaPOR data: The case of a Sugarcane Estate in Mozambique. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, pp.1-26.
2. Chukalla, A. D., Reidsma, P., van Vliet, M. T., Silva, J. V., van Ittersum, M. K., Jomaa, S., ... & van Oel, P. R.: Balancing indicators for sustainable intensification of crop production at field and river basin levels. Science of The Total Environment, 135925, 2019.
3. van Oel, P., Chukalla, A. D., Vos, J., and Hellegers, P. (2019). Using indicators to inform the sustainable governance of water-for-food systems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 40, 55-62, 2019.
4. Chukalla, A. D., Krol, M. S., and Hoekstra, A. Y.: Trade-off between blue and grey water footprint of crop production at different nitrogen application rates under various field management practices, Science of the total environment, 626, 962-970, 2018b.
5. Chukalla, A. D., Krol, M. S., and Hoekstra, A. Y.: Grey water footprint reduction in irrigated crop production: effect of nitrogen application rate, nitrogen form, tillage practice and irrigation strategy, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22, 3245-3259, 2018a.
6. Chukalla, A. D., Krol, M. S., and Hoekstra, A. Y.: Marginal cost curves for water footprint reduction in irrigated agriculture: guiding a cost-effective reduction of crop water consumption to a permit or benchmark level, Hydrology and earth system sciences, 21, 3507, 2017.
7. Chukalla, A. D., Krol, M. S., and Hoekstra, A. Y.: Green and blue water footprint reduction in irrigated agriculture: effect of irrigation techniques, irrigation strategies and mulching, Hydrology and earth system sciences, 19, 4877, 2015.
8. Chukalla, A. D., Haile, A. M., and Schultz, B.: Optimum irrigation and pond operation to move away from exclusively rainfed agriculture: the Boru Dodota Spate Irrigation Scheme, Ethiopia, Irrigation science, 31, 1091-1102, 2013.

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