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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384936

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

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: The synergy between water conservation and economic profitability of adopting alternative irrigation systems for cotton production in the Texas High Plains

item FAN, YUBING - Texas A&M Agrilife
item HIMANSHU, SUSHIL - Texas A&M Agrilife
item ALE, SRINIVASULU - Texas A&M Agrilife
item DELAUNE, PAUL - Texas A&M Agrilife
item ZHANG, TIAN - Texas A&M Agrilife
item PARK, SEONG - Tennessee Technological University
item Colaizzi, Paul
item Evett, Steven - Steve
item Baumhardt, Roland - Louis

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/2021
Publication Date: 6/8/2021
Citation: Fan, Y., Himanshu, S.K., Ale, S., Delaune, P.B., Zhang, T., Park, S.C., Colaizzi, P.D., Evett, S.R., Baumhardt, R.L. 2021. The synergy between water conservation and economic profitability of adopting alternative irrigation systems for cotton production in the Texas High Plains [abstract]. Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) 2021 Annual Water Resources Conference, June 8-10, 2021, Virtual.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Declining water levels of the Ogallala Aquifer challenge economic availability of the groundwater and necessitates the adoption of advanced irrigation systems with efficient irrigation strategies. Irrigation methods and application levels affect water productivity and farm profitability. This study evaluated the synergy between water conservation through a deficit irrigation strategy and economic profitability of agricultural production. The economic feasibility of cotton production was compared for spray, low-energy precision application (LEPA), and subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems in the Texas High Plains (THP) region. Treatments included irrigated cotton with water application at 25, 50, 75, and 100% evapotranspiration (ET) replacement levels and near-dryland cotton production. Both field-level data and well-calibrated model simulation data were used to assess the farm profitability for varying risk attitudes of producers. Research results showed that moderate irrigation levels increased average net return and its variability of cotton production as compared to 25% ET replacement for all irrigation systems, except for SDI at the 100% ET replacement level. A larger chance of getting a high net return (i.e., greater than $380 ha-1) was observed for spray and LEPA systems with the full irrigation at the 100% ET replacement level as well as for SDI with 75% ET replacement. This plus the fact that most producers in the region are forced to deficit irrigate helps explain the rapid adoption of SDI for cotton in the region. Economic risk analysis showed that LEPA had a higher net return than other systems at each of the four irrigation levels and it would be preferred by risk-neutral, somewhat risk-averse, and rather risk-averse cotton producers. For each irrigation system, full irrigation was most preferred by risk-neutral producers and only minor differences were observed in the expected returns between 75% and 100% ET replacements as the producers became somewhat or more risk-averse. Therefore, groundwater conservation can be achieved with SDI without compromising crop yield or farm income, while government policies and financial incentives can help to motivate producers to save irrigation water and maintain a high farm profit under spray and LEPA systems.