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The economics of irrigating wheat in a humid climate – A study in the East of England


  • El Chami, D.
  • Knox, J.W.
  • Daccache, A.
  • Weatherhead, E.K.


In the UK, wheat is the most important cultivated cereal, grown extensively as a rainfed crop. Irrigation of wheat has previously been considered uneconomic, but increases in world wheat prices and recent droughts have led to some farmers revising their views. Widespread adoption of wheat irrigation would have major implications for wheat production, the irrigation industry and water resources in regions that are already water scarce. This study investigated the financial viability of irrigating winter wheat grown on a sandy loam soil in the East of England. Long-term climate data (1961–2011) for Silsoe (Bedfordshire) was used to drive a biophysical crop model to assess irrigation water requirements and yield response. Modelling assumed a typical irrigation schedule to maximise yield and quality, and average reported wheat prices for 2007 to 2012. Irrigation costs were calculated assuming an overhead mobile hosereel–raingun system applying river water, abstracted either in summer and used directly, or abstracted in winter and stored in an on-farm reservoir.

Suggested Citation

  • El Chami, D. & Knox, J.W. & Daccache, A. & Weatherhead, E.K., 2015. "The economics of irrigating wheat in a humid climate – A study in the East of England," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 97-108.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:133:y:2015:i:c:p:97-108
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2014.11.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. El Chami, D. & Daccache, A., 2015. "Assessing sustainability of winter wheat production under climate change scenarios in a humid climate — An integrated modelling framework," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 19-25.
    2. Sain, Gustavo & Loboguerrero, Ana María & Corner-Dolloff, Caitlin & Lizarazo, Miguel & Nowak, Andreea & Martínez-Barón, Deissy & Andrieu, Nadine, 2017. "Costs and benefits of climate-smart agriculture: The case of the Dry Corridor in Guatemala," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 163-173.
    3. repec:eee:agiwat:v:194:y:2017:i:c:p:90-99 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Meyer-Aurich, Andreas & Gandorfer, Markus & Trost, Benjamin & Ellmer, Frank & Baumecker, Michael, 2016. "Risk efficiency of irrigation to cereals in northeast Germany with respect to nitrogen fertilizer," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 132-138.
    5. repec:eee:agiwat:v:192:y:2017:i:c:p:180-188 is not listed on IDEAS


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