Analysis of the effects of physical sustainability on profitability for crop production in the Southern High Plains of Texas
Gillum, Miranda B.
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Agricultural sustainability encompasses both physical sustainability, as well as, economic sustainability. The relationship between physical sustainability and profitability is often assumed to be negative, however, little actually is known about the relationship between practices that enhance physical sustainability and economic sustainability. The focus of the study was to analyze the impact of physical sustainably on economic sustainability for producers in the Southern High Plains of Texas. A regression analysis using Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) was conducted to estimate two effects: the impact of sustainability metrics on profitability expressed as gross margin, and the impact of irrigation and tillage systems on sustainability metrics. This analysis allows producers in the Southern High Plains region to better understand the implication of particular production practices on sustainability metrics as well as the effects of sustainability metrics on profit. Results from the study indicate that improving land use, irrigation water use, and energy use metrics may maintain or improve profit for cotton and corn operations in the Southern High Plains region. In addition, furrow (FUR) irrigation systems have a negative effect on the land use, irrigation water use, and energy use metrics; MESA systems have negative effect on the land use and soil conservation metrics; while SDI and no-till (NT) systems have a positive effect on soil conservation when compared to the bases LESA and conventional tillage, respectively. Results from the study conclude that profitability does not appear to be negatively affected by sustainability and certain irrigation and tillage systems affect sustainability metrics when compared to the base systems.