Investment in on-farm reservoirs to align economic returns and ecosystem services

Groundwater use plays an important role in agriculture where the lack of timely rainfall can lower yields. Policy makers strive to conserve ecosystem services, such as groundwater supply, while at the same time providing for economic growth. We develop a spatially explicit landscape level model for analyzing the ecosystem service and economic consequences of alternative crop mix patterns. The spatially explicit ecosystem service model uses initial aquifer thickness, hydro-conductivity of the aquifer, a digital elevation model, and soil characteristics, among other data, to predict the value of groundwater, surface water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions. The spatially explicit economic model incorporates site characteristics and location to predict economic returns for a variety of potential crop types. By thinking carefully about the arrangement of activities, we find crop mix and surface water storage systems that sustain high levels of ecosystem services and economic returns. Compared to the current crop mix, we show that both ecosystem service conservation and the value of economic activity could be increased substantially.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-28

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