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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of Sustainable Production Systems and Water Management Technology for the Mid South

Location: Crop Production Systems Research

Title: Determining the economic liability of implementing irrigation on small-scale farming systems

item Woods, Rockiell
item Sassenrath, Gretchen
item Whittaker, Wesley

Submitted to: Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2012
Publication Date: 1/15/2012
Citation: Woods, R., Sassenrath, G.F., Whittaker, W. 2012. Determining the economic liability of implementing irrigation on small-scale farming systems. Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science. pp. 1.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Small, limited resource farmers are often the primary providers of fresh foods for rural communities. However, they face often insurmountable economic challenges to staying in business. The small and limited resource farmer has declined at an alarming rate. The reasons for the decline or disappearance of limited resource farmers and ranchers are a direct result of several challenges or barriers that hinder them from realizing continued production output and economic success. Some of the major factors effecting small farmers and ranchers are poor management skills, inability to maintain cash flow, past racial discrimination and a lack of sufficient production information to make beneficial crop management decisions. While small farms have difficulty competing with large farms that supply most of the national and international food markets, they can compete at supplying local and regional food markets. In order for small farmers to survive in the fast changing farming industry, strategies are needed to identify and produce high value fruits and vegetables crops that will reward small farmers and ranchers for labor and management skills. This research was undertaken to identify potential yield improvements and economic return by implementing supplemental irrigation of two important vegetable crops: sweet potato (Ipornoea batatas L. Lam) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Wasp). Information on costs of irrigation, for both initial start-up expenses and within-season operating costs, were incorporated into enterprise budgets. The potential return on investment was calculated to demonstrate the potential economic return by implementing an irrigation system in vegetable cropping systems. Improving vegetable crop productivity will benefit individual farmers by improving economic return. It will also enhance rural communities by providing better selection of vegetables. Implementing irrigation may be a simple tool that farmers can use to enhance their management practices and maximize profits.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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