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Water 2016, 8(11), 501; doi:10.3390/w8110501

The Tradeoffs between Market Returns from Agricultural Crops and Non-Market Ecosystem Service Benefits on an Irrigated Agricultural Landscape in the Presence of Groundwater Overdraft

1
Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of Arkansas, 217 Agriculture Building, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
2
Centre of Global Food and Resources, University of Adelaide, 10 Pulteney Street, Adelaide 5005, SA, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sharon B. Megdal
Received: 28 August 2016 / Revised: 6 October 2016 / Accepted: 25 October 2016 / Published: 2 November 2016
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Abstract

Groundwater overdraft has consequences in the long-run for the economic and ecological sustainability of an agricultural landscape. In response to aquifer depletion, we examine the tradeoff of non-market ecosystem service benefits (e.g., groundwater supply, greenhouse gases, and surface water quality) and market returns from crops in the Lower Mississippi River Delta. Farmers may turn to conjunctive water management using on-farm reservoirs and tail water recovery when groundwater pumping becomes expensive. We use separate objectives for market returns from crops and the non-market benefits of ecosystem services to study whether on-farm reservoirs are built with optimal cropping and irrigation choices. The use of reservoirs enables the landscape to attain up to 10% higher market returns for a given level of all non-market ecosystem service benefits by lowering the costs of irrigation, increasing groundwater levels, and reducing fuel combustion and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from groundwater pumping. A landscape that internalizes both non-market ecosystem service benefits and market value from crops has 30% greater social value than a landscape where only market returns or only non-market value is optimized. View Full-Text
Keywords: efficiency frontier; economics; ecosystem services; agriculture; groundwater efficiency frontier; economics; ecosystem services; agriculture; groundwater
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kovacs, K.F.; Xu, Y.; West, G.H.; Popp, M. The Tradeoffs between Market Returns from Agricultural Crops and Non-Market Ecosystem Service Benefits on an Irrigated Agricultural Landscape in the Presence of Groundwater Overdraft. Water 2016, 8, 501.

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