76906 Implementing Irrigation On Small-Scale Farms: An Economic Feasibility Study Using Sweet Potato Irrigation.

Poster Number 23

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Sunday, February 3, 2013
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Rockiell Woods, Alcorn State Experiment Station and Demonstration Farm, Alcorn State University, Mound Bayou, MS, Gretchen Sassenrath, USDA-ARS-Crop Production Systems Research Unit, Stoneville MS, MS, John M. Halloran, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Orono, ME and Wesley Whittaker, Department of Agriculture Education, Alcorn State University, Alcorn State, MS
Economic challenges have contributed to an alarming decline in small farms due to barriers that hinder them from realizing production viability and economic success. Small farms are particularly important as a source of local food in the Mississippi Delta, a region identified as having substantial food deserts. In order for small farms to survive, strategies are required that yield high value fruits and vegetables and enable farmers to remain economically solvent. This research was undertaken to identify potential yield improvements and economic return in small-scale vegetable production systems. Supplemental irrigation in sweet potato (Ipornoea batatas L. Lam) production is used as a case study. Irrigation costs increased yearly production expenses 3-4%, depending on pumping fuel costs. Costs associated with harvest and post-harvest processing of greater yields added an additional 7 – 60% to production expenses, depending on potential yield improvement. However, even very modest (10%) improvements in yield are sufficient to economically justify implementing irrigation, as net return on investment increased at least five percent. Implementing irrigation is a simple tool that farmers can use to enhance their management practices and maximize profits. Access to startup capital and knowledge are still critically needed to allow small, limited resource farmers access to tools and skills that will improve the output and economic return of their production systems. The results from this research will be used to develop management tools for farmers to improve access to production information and assist in making crop management and business decisions.
See more from this Division: Submissions
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