Due to the changing climatic and environmental conditions, modifications in agricultural
and water policies have been made, and irrigated agriculture has to face the challenge of making
a rational and optimal use of the water resource effectively available. This urges rice farming,
strongly and traditionally linked to water, to change the modalities for the use of the resource.
If on one hand water saving techniques should be preferred, a different water management in paddy
fields may lead to lower yields and higher production costs, with consequent repercussions on farm
incomes. The paper recognizes the disagreement between environmental and economic concerns
and aims at contributing to the discussion about how to reconcile them by adopting alternative
irrigation strategies. From this perspective, a multi-objective linear optimization model is used
to explore the trade-offs between conflicting objectives in a rice-growing area in Northern Italy.
The model returns the optimal allocation of land subject to three different irrigation strategies,
as those previously performed in experimental fields; in addition, a scenario analysis is run to
simulate reduced resource availability