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Emergy evaluation perspectives of an irrigation improvement project proposal in China

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  • Chen, Dan
  • Webber, Michael
  • Chen, Jing
  • Luo, Zhaohui
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    Abstract

    Emergy theory and method are used to evaluate the feasibility of an irrigation improvement project in China and its contribution to local agricultural development. An emergy method for evaluating the costs and benefits of the project and a composite index named the emergy cost-benefit ratio (EmCBR) were developed. The emergy evaluation shows that the major costs associated with the proposed project come from earthwork (77.4% of the total cost) and concrete work (15.4%), and that water saving (43.0% of the total benefit) and agricultural yield increase (56.9%) are the most important contributions. The calculated EmCBR is 0.97 (the lowest value for a feasible project is 1.0) which indicates that this project would not be feasible in emergy terms. The regional agricultural system could not benefit from the proposed project, according to several emergy indices: emergy yield ratio (EYR), emergy investment ratio (EIR), environmental load ratio (ELR) and environmental sustainability index (ESI). The results show that conventional cost-benefit analysis could fail to provide an adequate decision-making framework because it is unable to value resources and environmental impacts properly. More additional emergy evaluations should be completed on other alternatives to the proposed project to provide adequate guidelines for selecting the best alternative that contributes most to agricultural development with limited environmental impact.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800911002643
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 11 (September)
    Pages: 2154-2162

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:11:p:2154-2162

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

    Related research

    Keywords: Emergy evaluation Cost-benefit analysis Irrigation improvement project Agricultural system;

    References

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    1. Cuihong Yang & Xikang Chen & Jian Xu, 2008. "A Method to Optimize Gross Fixed Capital Investments for Water Conservancy in China," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 151-172.
    2. Bebbington, Jan & Brown, Judy & Frame, Bob, 2007. "Accounting technologies and sustainability assessment models," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 224-236, March.
    3. Playan, Enrique & Mateos, Luciano, 2006. "Modernization and optimization of irrigation systems to increase water productivity," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(1-3), pages 100-116, February.
    4. Blanke, Amelia & Rozelle, Scott & Lohmar, Bryan & Wang, Jinxia & Huang, Jikun, 2007. "Water saving technology and saving water in China," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 139-150, January.
    5. Okada, H. & Styles, S.W. & Grismer, M.E., 2008. "Application of the Analytic Hierarchy Process to irrigation project improvement: Part I. Impacts of irrigation project internal processes on crop yields," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 199-204, March.
    6. Patterson, Murray G., 2002. "Ecological production based pricing of biosphere processes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 457-478, June.
    7. Jiang, M.M. & Chen, B. & Zhou, J.B. & Tao, F.R. & Li, Z. & Yang, Z.F. & Chen, G.Q., 2007. "Emergy account for biomass resource exploitation by agriculture in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 4704-4719, September.
    8. Dong, Xiaobin & Ulgiati, Sergio & Yan, Maochao & Gao, Wangsheng, 2008. "Progress, influence and perspectives of emergy theories in China, in support of environmentally sound economic development and equitable trade," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 1019-1028, March.
    9. Meijer, Karen & Boelee, Eline & Augustijn, Denie & Molen, Irna van der, 2006. "Impacts of concrete lining of irrigation canals on availability of water for domestic use in southern Sri Lanka," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 243-251, June.
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