Evaluation of the water use efficiency of alternative farm practices at a range of spatial and temporal scales: A conceptual framework and a modelling approach
Water is the principal limiting resource in Australian broadacre farming, and the efficiency with which farmers use water to produce various products is a major determinant both of farm profit and of a range of natural resource management (NRM) outcomes. We propose a conceptual framework based on multiple water use efficiencies (WUEs) that can be used to gain insight into high-level comparisons of the productivity and sustainability of alternative farming practices across temporal and spatial scales. The framework is intended as a data aggregation and presentation device. It treats flows of water, biomass and money in a mixed farming system; economic inefficiencies in these flows are tracked as they are associated with a range of NRM indicators. We illustrate the use of the framework, and its place in a larger research programme, by employing it to synthesise the results from a set of modelling analyses of the effect of land use choices on long-term productivity and a range of NRM indicators (frequency of low ground cover, deep drainage, N leaching rates and rate of change in surface soil organic carbon). The analyses span scales from single paddocks and years to whole farms and have been carried out with the APSIM and GRAZPLAN biophysical simulation models and the MIDAS whole-farm economic model. In single wheat crops in one study, different land uses in preceding years affect grain yield primarily by affecting the harvest index. When the scale changes to cropping rotations, the critical factor affecting overall water use efficiency is found to be the proportion of stored soil water that is transpired by crops. When ordinated in terms of their water use efficiencies, a set of 45 modelled rotation sequences at another location are differentiated mainly by the proportion of pasture in the rotation; when rotations are ordinated using key NRM indicators, the proportion of lucerne pasture is the main distinguishing factor. Finally, we show that for whole crop-livestock farms at three different locations across southern Australia, the pattern of water use efficiencies in the most profitable farming systems changes in similar ways as cropping proportion is altered. At this scale, land use choices affect multiple water use efficiency indices simultaneously and commodity prices determine the balance of the resulting economic tradeoffs. Limitations to the use of the WUE framework arising from its relative simplicity are discussed, as are other areas of farming systems research and development to which it can be applied.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Perry, Chris & Steduto, Pasquale & Allen, Richard. G. & Burt, Charles M., 2009. "Increasing productivity in irrigated agriculture: Agronomic constraints and hydrological realities," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1517-1524, November.
- Stoorvogel, J. J. & Antle, J. M. & Crissman, C. C. & Bowen, W., 2004. "The tradeoff analysis model: integrated bio-physical and economic modeling of agricultural production systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 43-66, April.
- Pannell, David J., 2001. "Dryland salinity: economic, scientific, social and policy dimensions," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 45(4), December.
- Moore, A. D. & Donnelly, J. R. & Freer, M., 1997. "GRAZPLAN: Decision support systems for Australian grazing enterprises. III. Pasture growth and soil moisture submodels, and the GrassGro DSS," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 535-582, December.
- Meyer-Aurich, Andreas, 2005. "Economic and environmental analysis of sustainable farming practices - a Bavarian case study," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 190-206, November.
- Moore, A.D. & Holzworth, D.P. & Herrmann, N.I. & Huth, N.I. & Robertson, M.J., 2007. "The Common Modelling Protocol: A hierarchical framework for simulation of agricultural and environmental systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 95(1-3), pages 37-48, December.
- Molden, D. & Murray-Rust, H. & Sakthivadivel, R. & Makin, I., 2003. "A water-productivity framework for understanding and action," IWMI Books, Reports H032632, International Water Management Institute.
- Probert, M. E. & Dimes, J. P. & Keating, B. A. & Dalal, R. C. & Strong, W. M., 1998. "APSIM's water and nitrogen modules and simulation of the dynamics of water and nitrogen in fallow systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 1-28, January.
- Donnelly, J. R. & Freer, M. & Salmon, L. & Moore, A. D. & Simpson, R. J. & Dove, H. & Bolger, T. P., 2002. "Evolution of the GRAZPLAN decision support tools and adoption by the grazing industry in temperate Australia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 115-139, October.
- van de Ven, G.W.J. & van Keulen, H., 2007. "A mathematical approach to comparing environmental and economic goals in dairy farming: Identifying strategic development options," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 231-246, May.
- Freer, M. & Moore, A. D. & Donnelly, J. R., 1997. "GRAZPLAN: Decision support systems for Australian grazing enterprises--II. The animal biology model for feed intake, production and reproduction and the GrazFeed DSS," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 77-126, May.
- van Calker, K. J. & Berentsen, P. B. M. & de Boer, I. M. J. & Giesen, G. W. J. & Huirne, R. B. M., 2004. "An LP-model to analyse economic and ecological sustainability on Dutch dairy farms: model presentation and application for experimental farm "de Marke"," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 139-160, November.
- Peden, D. & Tadesse, G. & Misra, A.K . & Ahmed, F. A. & Astatke, A. & Ayalneh, W. & Herrero, M. & Kiwuwa, G. & Kumsa, T. & Mati, B. & Mpairwe, D. & Wassenaar, T. & Yimegnuhal, A., 2007. "Water and livestock for human development," IWMI Books, Reports H040205, International Water Management Institute.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:104:y:2011:i:2:p:162-174. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.