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Analysis of alfalfa production in a water-stressed region: a dynamical modeling approach

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Alfalfa is a major feed crop widely cultivated in the United States. It is the fourth largest crop in acreage in the US after corn, soybean, and all types of

Alfalfa is a major feed crop widely cultivated in the United States. It is the fourth largest crop in acreage in the US after corn, soybean, and all types of wheat. As of 2003, about 48% of alfalfa was produced in the western US states where alfalfa ranks first, second, or third in crop acreage. Considering that the western US is historically water-scarce and alfalfa is a water-intensive crop, it creates a concern about exacerbating the current water crisis in the US west. Furthermore, the recent increased export of alfalfa from the western US states to China and the United Arab Emirates has fueled the debate over the virtual water content embedded in the crop. In this study, I analyzed changes of cropland systems under the three basic scenarios, using a stylized model with a combination of dynamical, hydrological, and economic elements. The three scenarios are 1) international demands for alfalfa continue to grow (or at least to stay high), 2) deficit irrigation is widely imposed in the dry region, and 3) long-term droughts persist or intensify reducing precipitation. The results of this study sheds light on how distribution of crop areas responds to climatic, economic, and institutional conditions. First, international markets, albeit small compared to domestic markets, provide economic opportunities to increase alfalfa acreage in the dry region. Second, potential water savings from mid-summer deficit irrigation can be used to expand alfalfa production in the dry region. Third, as water becomes scarce, farmers more quickly switch to crops that make more economic use of the limited water.

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Date Created
  • 2015

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Institutional analysis of water management for agriculture in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, Peru

Description

This research presents an analysis of the main institutions and economic incentives that drive farmers behaviors on water use in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, located in Lambayeque (Peru), a semi arid

This research presents an analysis of the main institutions and economic incentives that drive farmers behaviors on water use in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, located in Lambayeque (Peru), a semi arid area of great agricultural importance. I focus my research on identifying the underlying causes of non-collaborative behaviors in regard to water appropriation and infrastructure provisioning decision that generates violent conflicts between users. Since there is not an agreed and concrete criteria to assess "sustainability" I used economic efficiency as my evaluative criteria because, even though this is not a sufficient condition to achieve sustainability it is a necessary one, and thus achieving economic efficiency is moving towards sustainable outcomes. Water management in the basin is far from being economic efficient which means that there is some room for improving social welfare. Previous studies of the region have successfully described the symptoms of this problem; however, they did not focus their study on identifying the causes of the problem. In this study, I describe and analyze how different rules and norms (institutions) define farmers behaviors related to water use. For this, I use the Institutional Analysis and Development framework and a dynamic game theory model to analyze how biophysical attributes, community attributes and rules of the system combined with other factors, can affect farmers actions in regard to water use and affect the sustainability of water resources. Results show that water rights are the factor that is fundamental to the problem. Then, I present an outline for policy recommendation, which includes a revision of water rights and related rules and policies that could increase the social benefits with the use of compensation mechanisms to reach economic efficiency. Results also show that commonly proposed solutions, as switch to less water intensive and more added value crops, improvement in the agronomic and entrepreneurial knowledge, or increases in water tariffs, can mitigate or exacerbate the loss of benefits that come from the poor incentives in the system; but they do not change the nature of the outcome.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Water efficiency in agriculture: a study of the adoption of water conserving and profitable irrigation technology in Arizona

Description

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

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.

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Date Created
  • 2014