Agrarian Change, Land Use and Irrigation: the Impact of the Urgell Canal between 1860 and 1935

  • Referencia: Josep Maria Ramon-Muñoz: “Agrarian Change, Land Use and Irrigation: the Impact of the Urgell Canal between 1860 and 1935”. 2022, Historia Agraria. Revista de Agricultura e Historia Rural, no. 59, pp. 43-94.

ABSTRACT This article analyses the impact of the expansion of irrigation that took place in Spanish agriculture between the mid-nineteenth and the first third of the twentieth centuries. It explores the impact on agricultural land use of the Urgell canal, located in western Catalonia and constituting the largest water infrastructure built in nineteenth century Spain for agricultural purposes. The available data show that irrigation failed to significantly alter the mix of crops planted in the territories of the Urgell plain. At the end of this period, traditional crops still covered a majority of the irrigated area. Without denying the importance of other factors, this article suggests that the lack of an adequate water flow was one of the main limitations in developing a greater production of intensive crops and other products with higher added value

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