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A simple agent-based model of farmers adapting to climate change

Description

Climate change presents the urgent need for effective sustainable water management that is capable of preserving natural resources while maintaining economical stability. States like California rely heavily on groundwater pumping

Climate change presents the urgent need for effective sustainable water management that is capable of preserving natural resources while maintaining economical stability. States like California rely heavily on groundwater pumping for agricultural use, contributing to land subsidence and insufficient returns to water resources. The recent California drought has impacted agricultural production of certain crops. In this thesis, we present an agent-based model of farmers adapting to drought conditions by making crop choice decisions, much like the decisions Californian farmers have made. We use the Netlogo platform to capture the 2D spatial view of an agricultural system with changes in annual rainfall due to drought conditions. The goal of this model is to understand some of the simple rules farmers may follow to self-govern their consumption of a water resource. Farmer agents make their crop decisions based on deficit irrigation crop production function and a net present value discount rate. The farmers choose between a thirsty crop with a high production cost and a dry crop with a low production cost. Simulations results show that farmers switch crops in accordance with limited water and land resources. Farmers can maintain profit and yield by following simple rules of crop switching based on future yields and optimal irrigation. In drought conditions, individual agents expecting lower annual rainfall were able to increase their total profits. The maintenance of crop yield and profit is evidence of successful adaptation when farmers switch to crops that require less water.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05