The research was conducted for a representative 50 ha farm in the Onderberg region in Mpumalanga province, where farmers use a combination of centre-pivot, drip, and dragline systems of different sizes to grow sugarcane. The main intention was to establish a multi-period linear programming model capable of economically evaluating a farm expansion decision making process for farmers faced with investment decisions in alternative irrigation systems, taking in to account the available initial capital of the farm. A linear programming (LP) model was used to assign a mainline for a total of twelve irrigation system combinations based on the assumption that the farmer wishes to start with a 30 ha centre-pivot investment. Generalized Algebraic Modelling System (GAMS) was used to formulate the farm growth model as mixed integer dynamic linear programming (MIDLP) for a 15 year planning horizon. Based on the results, farmers are initially forced to invest in lower cost irrigation systems when they lack capital to start a farm business due to the time value of money. They only consider lowering operating costs by investing in expensive irrigation systems when they have more own capital or borrowing capacity.


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