This article analyses adoption of farm-based irrigation water saving techniques, based on a cross-sectional data set of 357 farmers in the Guanzhong Plain, China. Approximately 83% of the farmers use at least one farm-based water-saving technique. However, the traditional, inefficient techniques border and furrow irrigation are still prevalent whereas the use of advanced, more efficient techniques is still rather rare. We develop and estimate an adoption model consisting of two stages: awareness of water scarcity and intensity of adoption. We find that awareness of water scarcity and financial status enhance adoption of more advanced techniques whereas access to better community-based irrigation infrastructure discourages it. We furthermore find both community-based irrigation infrastructure and farm-based irrigation water-saving techniques have mitigating effects on production risk. From the results it follows that adoption can be stimulated via financial support and via extension aimed at enhancing awareness of water scarcity.