University of California

On-farm management of agricultural drainage water: An economic analysis


Keith Knapp
Ariel Dinar
John Letey

Authors Affiliations

Keith Knapp was Associate Professor of Resource Economics, Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside; Ariel Dinar was former Postdoctoral Research Agricultural Economist, Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, is currently with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Management, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel; John Letey was Professor of Soil Physics, Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 54(4):1-31. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v54n04p020. July 1986.

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This paper analyzes optimal management strategies for farms with limited natural drainage and no access to off-farm disposal facilities. A representative farm with conditions typical of a drainage problem area in the San Joaquin Valley is considered, using a long-run steady-state model. Optimal, profit-maximizing water applications were significantly less for this farm than would be profitable for a farm with no drainage problems. Relatively high yield levels were maintained, and the required pond size was relatively small. Comparatively little crop switching occurred relative to that on a farm with unlimited natural drainage, and drainwater reuse was not profitable when all costs were considered.

Access to an off-farm disposal facility brought significant benefits, and a moderate discharge fee significantly reduced effluent volumes. A plausible amount of underground drainage flow to the farm had little effect. With uniform water applications, returns to land and management are significantly greater than with non-uniform applications, and the pond size is almost negligible. Water application levels are almost identical in the limited and unlimited drainage cases, when water is applied uniformly.

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Knapp K, Dinar A, Letey J. 1986. On-farm management of agricultural drainage water: An economic analysis. Hilgardia 54(4):1-31. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v54n04p020
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