Water efficiency in agriculture: a study of the adoption of water conserving and profitable irrigation technology in Arizona
With the projected population growth, the need to produce higher agricultural yield to meet projected demand is hindered by water scarcity. Out of many the approaches that could be implemented to meet the water gap, intensification of agriculture through adoption of advanced agricultural irrigation techniques is the focus for this research. Current high water consumption by agricultural sector in Arizona is due to historical dominance in the state economy and established water rights. Efficiency gained in agricultural water use in Arizona has the most potential to reduce the overall water consumption. This research studies the agricultural sector and water management of several counties in Arizona (Maricopa, Pinal, and Yuma). Several research approaches are employed: modeling of agricultural technology adoption using replicator dynamics, interview with water managers and farmers, and Arizona water management law and history review. Using systems thinking, the components of the local farming environment are documented through socio-ecological system/robustness lenses. The replicator dynamics model is employed to evaluate possible conditions in which water efficient agricultural irrigation systems proliferate. The evaluation of conditions that promote the shift towards advanced irrigation technology is conducted through a combination of literature review, interview data, and model analysis. Systematic shift from the currently dominant flood irrigation toward a more water efficient irrigation technologies could be attributed to the followings: the increase in advanced irrigation technology yield efficiency; the reduction of advanced irrigation technology implementation and maintenance cost; the change in growing higher value crop; and the change in growing/harvesting time where there is less competition from other states. Insights learned will further the knowledge useful for this arid state's agricultural policy decision making that will both adhere to the water management goals and meet the projected food production and demand gap.