Investment in Irrigation Systems under Precipitation Uncertainty
Efficient agricultural water management is indispensable in meeting future food demands. The European Water Framework Directive promotes several measures such as the adoption of adequate water pricing mechanisms or the promotion of water-saving irrigation technologies. We apply a stochastic dynamic programming model (SDPM) to analyze a farmer’s optimal investment strategy to adopt a water-efficient drip irrigation system or a sprinkler irrigation system under uncertainty about future production conditions, i.e. about future precipitation patterns. We assess the optimal timing to invest into either irrigation system in the planning period 2010 to 2040. We then investigate how alternative policies, (a) irrigation water pricing, and (b) equipment subsidies for drip irrigation, affect the investment strategy. We perform the analysis for the semi-arid agricultural production region Marchfeld in Austria, and use data from the bio-physical process simulation model EPIC (Environmental Policy Integrated Climate) which takes into account site and management related characteristics as well as weather parameters from a statistical climate change model. We find that investment in drip irrigation is unlikely unless subsidies for equipment cost are granted. Also water prices do not increase the probability to adopt a drip irrigation system, but rather delay the timing to invest into either irrigation system.