Farm Size, Irrigation Practices, and Conservation Program Participation in the Colorado Basin States
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis study uses data from a special tabulation of the USDA Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey to examine the relationship between farm size and adoption of a variety of water management practices across seven Colorado Basin states. Parametric (Cochran-Armitage trend test) and non-parametric (Goodman-Kruskal gamma) methods were used to estimate associations between farm size and adoption of water management practices, use of water management information, and participation in conservation programs. Farms were divided into five categories: small farms, medium farms, large farms and very large farms, based on their gross sales. In all seven states, very large farms relied on a greater number of different information sources for water management than small farms. The relationship between farm size and information source use was not always monotonic, however. Small farms were more likely to rely more on their neighbors and irrigation district staff for water management information. Large and very large farms relied on a more diverse set of information sources and relied more on privately provide sources, such as consultants. In very few cases was a public or private information source used by more than half of any group of farmers. There is no "one-stop shopping" for irrigation management information. Smaller farms were more likely to not have investigated ways to improve water or energy conservation practices in the previous five years. Farmers cited economic factors as the most important largest constraints on adoption of conservation investments. Larger farms were more likely to participate in government (federal, state, or local) other conservation programs. These farms, though, account for the greatest share of water use. Many smaller farms do not have control over the timing of their irrigation applications, but rather depend on irrigation districts to supply water "in turn." Extension messaging to improve irrigation timing may be more effective if they target irrigation district staff that control irrigation scheduling.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Agricultural & Resource Economics