Date of Graduation

12-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Qiuqiong Huang

Committee Member

Jason Krutz

Second Committee Member

Christopher Henry

Keywords

best management practices, groundwater, irrigation, Lower Mississippi River Basin (LMRB), Mississippi Delta, water conservation

Abstract

This study uses the 2016 Irrigation Survey from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to document the use of irrigation best management practices (IBMPs), analyze use patterns, and use quantitative methods to determine factors that influence producers’ decisions regarding IBMPs. IBMPs included in the survey can be grouped as: field management practices (zero-grade leveling, precision-grade leveling, end blocking, warped surface, and deep tillage), water flow control practices (computerized pipe-hole selection, multiple-inlet irrigation, surge irrigation, alternate wetting and drying, cutback irrigation, flow meters, and pump timers), water recovery/storage practices (tail-water recovery system and on-farm storage reservoir), and advanced irrigation scheduling practices (soil moisture sensors, ET or atmometers, computerized scheduling, and Woodruff charts). We find that most of the sample producers use between one and four individual IBMPs from two or more groups. Explanatory variables consist of producer characteristics (being a landowner, education, years of farming experience, income), farm characteristics (total irrigated acres, percent of irrigated acres under gravity irrigation, percent of irrigation from ground water, farm location), and conservation variables (participation in conservation programs within the last five years), and producer perception of groundwater shortage on his or her own farm. Important findings from our study include the strong correlation between higher irrigated acres and water flow meters, and the use of many IBMPs. Our results indicate that more years of farming experience is negatively associated with use of advanced irrigation scheduling practices, and participation in conservation programs such as EQIP is associated with use of water recovery and storage practices, as well as land leveling practices. Being located in a critical groundwater area did not have any statistically significant effect on producers’ decisions concerning IBMPs in this study.

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