Date of Graduation

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Kent Kovacs

Committee Member

Quiquiong Huang

Second Committee Member

Lawton Lanier Nalley

Third Committee Member

Jennie S. Popp

Keywords

Groundwater conservation, Irrigation, Return on investment, Surface water delivery, Technology adoption

Abstract

Concerns about groundwater depletion from conventional irrigation agriculture in the Arkansas Delta region have led to the promotion of more efficient irrigation practices. With Arkansas being the largest producer of rice, the 10th largest producer of soybeans and the 16th largest producer of corn in the United States, the irrigation demand of these crops has put pressure on producers to find ways to irrigate more efficiently. Not only are the alternative technologies supposed to reduce water use, it is also believed that their adoption can also yield economic benefits for the producer. Despite these assumed benefits, adoption of alternative technologies have been limited. The paper will address potential returns on investment in new irrigation practices for furrow irrigated soybeans, furrow irrigated corn and flood irrigated rice. More farms that adopt the efficiency enhancing practices will increase the return on investment in those practices because this stabilizes groundwater levels across the landscape. The adoption of reservoirs and tail-water recovery systems are also being promoted as a way of minimizing groundwater depletion and promoting surface water irrigation. Despite the long term benefits of surface water use, many producers are reluctant to adopt the water saving practices. To better understand the barriers of adoption, this project uses the responses from producers who took part in the Arkansas Irrigation Survey in 2016. The responses from this survey are used to find which factors are correlated with the adoption of water storage facilities. The research finds that peer networks are positively correlated with the adoption of surface water irrigation.

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