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Irrigation modelling needs better epistemology

Modelling of irrigation water withdrawals aims for accurate and relatively objective estimates, but three epistemological obstacles (models’ elusive tie to reality, model plurality and indeterminacy of the target system) make this premise unattainable. However, if used to explore possibilities within the known and unknown, irrigation models can overcome these problems to inform action.

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We thank J. Larsen for insights on crop evapotranspiration processes. All errors and misinterpretations are our own. This work was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee (EP/Y02463X/1).

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Correspondence to Arnald Puy.

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Puy, A., Massimi, M., Lankford, B. et al. Irrigation modelling needs better epistemology. Nat Rev Earth Environ 4, 427–428 (2023).

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