Cornell Research Shows Benefits of Coordinating Farm Water Use

Researchers at Cornell University have published a study showing that when crop prices are high, there is a significant payoff for farms from coordinated water use. Instead of farms using more water and driving up costs of accessing water for all farms, coordinated use achieved higher efficiency.  The study used a scenario of alfalfa grown on two 50-acre plots in California. The study found that a coordinated approach to water management led to an overall efficiency gain of $93,000 for the two farmers when the groundwater supply was moderate and rainfall was normal. However, coordination would save $125,000 in scenarios with a moderate groundwater supply and high rainfall, or a high groundwater supply during a drought. The researchers also created scenarios with a variety of crops requiring different growing conditions, such as walnuts, strawberries, and olives. Tremendous efficiency gains were possible in strawberries, but there was no efficiency for some perennial crops.