INTEGRATED ECONOMIC DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM MODEL FOR DETERMINING IRRIGATION APPLICATION AND PROJECTED AGRICULTURAL WATER DEMAND ON A WATERSHED SCALE
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This study involves the development of an irrigation economic model used to determine the estimated net benefit of various irrigation systems when used in temperate zones. The model processes SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) output data together with user supplied economic data as a basis for identifying agricultural fields likely to result in the greatest economic return for irrigation installations, based on irrigation installation costs, water costs, and the expected revenue from increased yields due to applied water. The model is capable of not only identifying those agricultural fields within the area of interest likely to result in the greatest net benefit, but is able to prescribe the most profitable irrigation system from an array of possible systems, based on user supplied economic and performance data. The model can also be used to determine the optimal average monthly irrigation volume to be applied to a given field, by balancing the expected revenue due to the estimated yield increase as a result of irrigation application verses the cost of water. The model is applied in this study to a range of water cost levels and crop types from which general conclusions about the use of irrigation in temperate zones are made. The primary product of this study is an irrigation economic tool capable of determining the profitability of irrigation installations verses non-irrigated systems for a wide range of hydrological and environmental conditions. The project included the collection and compilation of required data on land-use, topography, and soil properties, into a GIS project, used as a data input basis for the SWAT model. For demonstration purposes the model is applied to the Pocomoke River basin located in the Coastal Plain of Maryland's Eastern Shore. Input data for the model is taken from multiple SWAT simulations for various crops, modeled with a statistically generated artificial weather pattern typical of the region. Further analysis is conducted on the environmental impact of irrigation, using SWAT model simulations over a range of irrigation application levels. General conclusions are drawn on the effects of irrigation on water quality parameters and the nutrient/sediment transport processes involved.