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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Halloran, John
item Starr, Gordon

Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/15/2005
Publication Date: 11/7/2005
Citation: Halloran, J.M., Starr, G.C. 2005. An economic assessment of alternative irrigation systems in humid regions. American Society of Agronomy Abstracts. CD-ROM

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Irrigated production in the humid northeast United States is expanding rapidly. An economic assessment of irrigation systems for potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production was conducted to aid in system selection. High efficiency, subsurface drip and surface drip systems were compared with sprinkler and unirrigated production in a replicated plot study in Maine. The study was cropped to a potato and ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) rotation with four replicates. Two years of measured potato yield and size distribution were used to assess net return for each system. Irrigated potato had greater yield than non-irrigated potato, with the exception of plots located in chronically wet areas. The economic efficacy of each system is a function of initial costs, labor and operating costs, yield response, and farm size. The returns are also contingent on the crop produced, how frequently the systems are utilized, cost of water source development, and the variability in water holding capacity across the field. Sprinkler systems showed greater scale economies than drip, but had lower water use efficiency. This suggests drip irrigation may be more appropriate for smaller fields, high value crops, and situations where water source development costs are high. Surface drip was problematic for potato production because of frequent cultivation, but drip lines buried below the plow layer were acceptable. Economic benefits also arose from reduced production risk in years with water deficits.

Last Modified: 08/22/2017
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