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Title page for ETD etd-07242007-003333

Type of Document Dissertation
Author de Bodisco, Christopher N.
URN etd-07242007-003333
Title The regional value of water in agriculture
Degree PhD
Department Economics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dr. Andrea Maneschi Committee Chair
Dr. Charles B. Moss Committee Member
Dr. Cliff Huang Committee Member
Dr. George Sweeney Committee Member
Dr. James Foster Committee Member
  • water demand
  • federal agricultural policy and water
  • translog profit
Date of Defense 2007-05-15
Availability unrestricted


Dissertation under the direction of Dr. Andrea Maneschi

This study estimates regional variation in the value of irrigation water. A Minflex Laurent

Generalized Leontief profit function is estimated to calculate the marginal value of water across

regions, and to identify key factors affecting variation in water values. Using data from both the Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey, and the Census of Agriculture for the years 1982 - 1997,

STATGO soil data, and PRISM GIS climate data, it is determined that the most important factors

affecting water values are input prices (fuel, labor, chemicals, and other), the quantity of water applied, and mean temperature. Water values vary considerably by region. Driven down by high

input prices and high water usage, water prices in the West are generally low with marginal

value products near zero dollars per acre-foot. Florida has high water values primarily due to its

climate and lower input prices. Georgia has much higher water values due to very low water

application rates. Geographic factors such as a precipitation, soil characteristics, and irrigation techniques, have positive but relatively minor effects on water value. Profit per acre is negatively correlated with the shadow price of water. The implication is that high profitability in vegetable farming over time has generated both the incentive and the means to increase the supply of water, and farmers are now extracting much of the value from that water. Federal farm policies appear to lower the value of water by stimulating the production of crops that use water less intensively with a lower marginal value product. Removal of these distortions actually may increase water demand, but with wide variations by state.

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