Three Essays on the Economics of Precision Agriculture in Cotton Production

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2011-05

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Abstract

Precision agriculture technologies aim at adjusting input application rates to spatial and temporal requirements of the crop increasing the input use efficiency and reducing the negative environmental impact associated with agricultural chemicals. Two most important aspects of precision agriculture in cotton are development of precision agriculture technologies and dissemination of the developed technologies to the end users. The three essays in this dissertation address both of these issues by analyzing a survey of the status of precision agriculture adoption by cotton farmers in 12 states of Southern US and developing cotton irrigation strategies optimizing temporal and spatial allocation of limited water supply. In the first essay, a nested logit model was used to analyze the adoption of different variability detection technologies and the likelihood of adoption of the variable rate application conditioned on the type of variability detection technology chosen by the decision maker. The results revealed that the farmers choosing more than two variability detection technologies are more likely to adopt variable rate application technology. In the second essay a biological model was used along with an economic optimization model to determine the optimal strategy for temporal allocation of irrigation water at different levels of available irrigation water (6, 9, 12, and 15 acre-inch). From this study, it was evident that irrigating only 30%, 45%, 55%, and 70% of the field and keeping the rest of the field rainfed was the best strategy to maximize the profit under 6, 9, 12, and 15 inches of available irrigation water, respectively. The third study examined different strategies to allocate a limited amount of irrigation water among three stages of cotton growth. At 15 inches of available irrigation water, the strategy that maximizes risk adjusted profit was to use 90% of the available irrigation water from first bloom to first open boll and the rest from appearance of the first open boll to 60% open boll. At all other levels of available irrigation water, the best strategy was to apply all the available irrigation water from appearance of first bloom to appearance of first open boll.

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Keywords

Precision agriculture, Technology adoption, Water economics, Irrigation efficiency, Cotton irrigation, Irrigation economics

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