Abebe Chukalla

Lecturer/Researcher in Irrigation Engineering


Abebe Demissie Chukalla is a lecturer in Water Productivity and Remote Sensing in Integrated Water Systems and Governance Department, IHE Delft. With the overall goal to address concerns of water scarcity and food security, he is interested in accounting, explaining and reducing resource-efficiency gaps, yield gaps and water-productivity gaps across ago-hydrological scales (field, irrigation, river basin).

Before joining IHE Delft, Abebe has been 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 developed during his studies, i.e., (i) Surface Storage & Irrigation Scheme Planning (SSISP) model - developed based on Macro-Excel as part of his MSc thesis; and (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).

Research Summary

His main research interests is on developing and applying concepts and methods to assess, visualize and reduce resource-efficiency gaps, yield gaps, and water-productivity gaps within socio-economic and environmental thresholds. He wants to do so using data from remote sensing and ground observation by applying python, QGIS, and agro-hydrological models.


1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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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