Agricultural groundwater management strategies and seasonal climate forecasting: perceptions from Mogwadi (Dendron), Limpopo, South Africa

Amy Fallon, K. G. Villholth, G. Y. Ebrahim, D. Conway, B. A. Lankford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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This paper explores the agricultural groundwater management system of Mogwadi (Dendron), Limpopo, South Africa – an area associated with intensive use of hard rock aquifers for irrigation – and the potential contribution of seasonal forecasts. These relatively shallow aquifers are often perceived as ‘self-regulating’, yet climate variability and infrequent recharge episodes raise the question of whether seasonal forecasting could contribute to more sustainable groundwater use. Hydro-meteorological observations, interviews and repeat focus groups with commercial farmers were used to examine this question for the 2014–15 rainfall season, with follow-up interviews during the 2015–16 El Niño season. Two long-term borehole series showed effects of episodic recharge events and management interventions. Comparison of formal and informal management practices highlighted important contrasts: a perceived lack of formal coordination within governing bodies, contrary to high levels of informal coordination between farmers despite a persistent ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem. Seasonal forecast use was limited due to lack of awareness and understanding of their relevance, low credibility and trust of forecasts, and poor dissemination. Farmers expressed increased interest in such information after the 2015–16 drought, if tailored to their needs. Increased uptake is, however, contingent on complementary groundwater monitoring network improvements and enhanced cooperation between stakeholder groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-157
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Water and Climate Change
Issue number1
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • agriculture
  • climate variability
  • commercial farmers
  • groundwater management
  • seasonal forecast
  • South Africa
  • RISK
  • Groundwater management
  • Seasonal forecast
  • Commercial farmers
  • Climate variability
  • Agriculture


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