The evolution of agricultural drainage from the earliest times to the present

Mohammad Valipour, Jens Krasilnikof, Stavros Yannopoulos, Rohitashw Kumar, Jun Deng, Paolo Roccaro, Larry Mays, Mark E. Grismer, Andreas N. Angelakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Agricultural developments require changes in land surface and subsurface hydraulic functions as protection from floods, reclamation of flooded land, irrigation, and drainage. Drainage of agricultural land has a long history and apparently traces back to the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Iran before 4000 BC. In the Eastern Mediterranean, the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations developed techniques and strategies of drainage of agricultural lands from the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. After the collapse of the Aegean Bronze-age civilizations, society building and agricultural innovation in the archaic and Classical periods (ca. 800-300 BC) included successful attempts at controlling drainage and irrigation techniques. In addition, China, India, and Mesoamerica have extensive histories of drainage. The aim of this review paper is to trace the evolution of the main foundings on agricultural drainage technologies through the centuries until the present. This historical review reveals valuable insights into ancient hydraulic technologies as well as irrigation and drainage management that will help to find bright horizons for sustainable agriculture in future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number416
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Agricultural drainage
  • Irrigation
  • Land reclamation
  • Sustainable drainage
  • Water and civilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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