Conserving water in arid regions: Exploring the economic feasibility of alternative crops
Urban expansion in western arid regions has increased competition for available water supplies, encouraging more efficient agricultural water use. The implementation of alternative low water-use crops is one option for producers, but is it economically feasible? This study uses the EPIC model to model yields to alternative crop production under differing irrigation levels. Risk analysis, or the distribution of returns, to alternative crop production is examined through the use of SIMETAR. Data on current and alternative crops for this study include cost and return studies, producer interviews, and field trials in Northwest Nevada. Study results show that there are alternative crops that could be feasibly substituted for alfalfa or used as a diversification strategy, while reducing water use by at least one-half.
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