Possible negative feedbacks from 'gold-plating' irrigation infrastructure

Adamson, David and Loch, Adam (2014) Possible negative feedbacks from 'gold-plating' irrigation infrastructure. Agricultural Water Management, 145 134-144. doi:10.1016/j.agwat.2013.09.022

Author Adamson, David
Loch, Adam
Title Possible negative feedbacks from 'gold-plating' irrigation infrastructure
Journal name Agricultural Water Management   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0378-3774
Publication date 2014-01-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.agwat.2013.09.022
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 145
Start page 134
End page 144
Total pages 11
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 2312 Water Science and Technology
1102 Agronomy and Crop Science
1111 Soil Science
1904 Earth-Surface Processes
Abstract For an irrigator, investments in on-farm water infrastructure that increase the marginal productivity of water may improve use efficiency. However, increasing on-farm water use efficiency invariably diminishes return flows, compromising the ability to maintain sufficient water flows in streams to support natural environmental values, particularly in dry states of nature. As climate change can increase the probability of dry states, modelling that does not incorporate state-contingent treatments of uncertainty may misrepresent the benefits of public investment on irrigation infrastructure improvements to recover environmental water flows. This paper uses a state-contingent modelling approach to review an extended farm capital investment policy in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin. We examine technical efficiency gain implications for irrigation and environmental water managers under alternative states of inflow variability and the role that increasing climatic uncertainty has on policy objectives. Results suggest that the incentives provided to recover environment water via on-farm capital investments could have two principal negative feedbacks given future uncertainties. First, farm capital investments may encourage inflexible production systems that fail to respond to future water scarcity, exposing that investment to increased risk. Second, technical efficiency gains may reduce return flows, creating perverse policy outcomes aligned with meeting environmental objectives. Highlighting these ulterior policy outcomes provides irrigators and policy makers the capacity to adapt and develop flexible arrangements, robust policy, and management solutions that help negate future uncertainty.
Keyword Murray-Darling Basin
Technical efficiency
Climate change
Economic optimization
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Economics Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 19 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 19 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 03 Jul 2014, 22:43:04 EST by Mr David Adamson on behalf of School of Economics