Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #343601

Research Project: Precipitation and Irrigation Management to Optimize Profits from Crop Production

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Economic feasibility of converting center pivot irrigation to subsurface drip irrigation

Author
item Guerrero, Bridget - West Texas A & M University
item Amosson, Steve - Texas Agrilife Extension
item Almas, Lal - West Texas A & M University
item Marek, Thomas - Texas Agrilife Research
item Porter, Dana - Texas Agrilife Extension

Submitted to: Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/25/2016
Publication Date: 11/28/2016
Citation: Guerrero, B., Amosson, S., Almas, L., Marek, T., Porter, D. 2016. Economic feasibility of converting center pivot irrigation to subsurface drip irrigation. Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. 77-88.

Interpretive Summary: Crop yields have not decreased as water availability for irrigation from the Ogallala Aquifer on the Southern High Plains has declined because of advancements in irrigation technology have increased water use efficiency. However, producers can be reluctant to convert to a more efficient irrigation system when the initial investment costs are high. Therefore, scientists in the ARS led Ogallala Aquifer Program from West Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Service examined the economic feasibility of replacing low energy precision application (LEPA) center pivot sprinkler irrigation with subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). The increase in water efficiency from LEPA to SDI was estimated to be only 2%. Further analyses demonstrated that the return from investment from switching from LEPA to SDI was only possible with high value crops that require a minimum increase in yield after the conversion and corn was at the top of this list among typically grown row crops. These results are of interest to water policy makers, especially when making decision regarding cost share for water conversing irrigation equipment.

Technical Abstract: Advancements in irrigation technology have increased water use efficiency. However, producers can be reluctant to convert to a more efficient irrigation system when the initial investment costs are high. This study examines the economic feasibility of replacing low energy precision application (LEPA) center pivot sprinkler irrigation with subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). Specifically, the changes in net investment, variable costs, and total costs related to the conversion of irrigation systems are estimated. Then, these costs are used to evaluate the necessary increase in crop yields with a SDI system under alternative crop scenarios for conversion to be economically feasible.