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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Economic Potential for Agriculture Water-Saving Using Alternative Irrigation Techniques


More efficient use of water by irrigated agriculture in California will likely be necessary if the significant economic role played by this industry is to be maintained in the future. Necessary economic data and methodologies are developed to assess the extent to which water savings can be realized through widespread adoption of water-saving irrigation technologies. Special technologies substitute energy for water. An assessment of the methods developed was performed on the agricultural sector of western Riverside County of southern California.

A linear program model develops the responses of agricultural production to changes in the cost and availability of irrigation water and pumping energy. A new method for limiting cropping pattern shifts is analyzed. The results of the model and the possible impact of the model's assumptions on these results are discussed.

Some conclusions drawn from the analysis include: an increasing rate of decline in irrigated acreage, particularly of field crops, due to increasing resource prices; a much higher elasticity of demand for imported water than for groundwater; increasing use of sprinkler and particularly drip irrigation as water price rises; and a large potential for water stressing crops if better information becomes available on water production functions. Implications of the results are discussed and ways of improving the accuracy of the model are suggested.

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