Irrigation farmers in the lower reaches of the Vaal and Riet Rivers are experiencing substantial yield reductions in certain crops and more profitable crops have been withdrawn from production, hypothesised, as a result of generally poor but especially fluctuating water quality. In this paper secondary data is used in a linear programming model to test this hypothesis by calculating the potential loss in farm level optimal returns. The model is static with a time frame of two production seasons. Linear crop-water quality production functions (Ayers & Westcot, 1983; adapted from Maas & Hoffmann, 1977) are used to calculate net returns for the eight most common crops grown. Results show optimal enterprise composition under various water quality situations. Leaching is justified financially and there is a strong motivation for a change in the current water pricing system. SALMOD (Salinity and Leaching Model for Optimal irrigation Development) is the Excel Solver model used to derive the preliminary results, but is currently being developed further in GAMS (General Algebraic Modelling System). Useful results have already been obtained on which this paper is based. The ultimate aim for SALMOD is a mathematical model using dynamic optimisation, simulation and risk modelling techniques to aid in whole farm and system level management decisions to ensure sustainable irrigation agriculture under stochastic river water quality conditions.


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