Assessing irrigation efficiency improvements by using a preference revelation model

C. Gutierrez-Martin, C. M. Gomez Gomez


This paper develops a general preference model to explain farmers’ decisions. Contrary to better known and most commonly used simulation models, the one presented in this paper allows to calibrate, simulate and explain farmers’ decisions without assuming linear preferences (as in many multi criteria decision models) or unobservable implicit cost functions (as in positive mathematical programming models). The model is calibrated for crop decisions in the Genil Cabra irrigated area in the Guadalquivir valley (South Spain) as the resulting empirical model is used to study how farmers react by adjusting these decisions when efficiency in the use of water is improved under different scenarios regarding water use rights. The main conclusion of the paper is that the potential water savings from enhancing irrigation technique (636 m3 ha–1) are overcome by increasing water demand due to higher per drop water productivity when sunflower is replaced by maize. For that reason water price increases and/or reduction of water use rights is a necessary condition to convert water savings through improved efficiency into lower water use and better conserved water sources.


agricultural policy; mathematical programming; water demand for irrigation

Full Text:



Berbel J., 1989. Analysis of protected cropping: an application of multiobjective programming techniques to Spanish horticulture. Eur Rev Agr Econ 16(2), 203-16.

Berbel J., Gallego J., Sagues H., 1991. Marketing goals vs. business profitability: An interactive multiple criteria decision-making approach. Agribusiness 7(6), 537-549.<537::AID-AGR2720070604>3.0.CO;2-D

Berbel J., Rodriguez-Ocaña A., 1998. An MCDM approach to production analysis: An application to irrigated farms in southern Spain. Eur J Oper Res 107(1), 108-118.

Berbel J., Gómez-Limón J.A., 2000. The impact of water-pricing policy in Spain: an analysis of three irrigated areas. Agr Water Manage 43(2), 219-238.

Bielsa J., Duarte R., 2000. La eficiencia técnica de riego: Análisis de las conexiones y la utilidad de sus diversas definiciones. Rev Esp Estud Agrosoc Pesqu 189, 103-118. [In Spanish].

Burt C.M., Clemmens A.J., Strelkoff T.S., Solomon K.H., Bliesner R.D., Hardy L.A., Lowell T.A., Eisenhauer D.E., 1997. Irrigation perfomance measures: efficiency and uniformity. J Irrig Drain Eng 123(6), 423-442.

De Frahan B.H., Buysse J., Polomé P., Fernagut B., Harmignie O., Lauwers L., Van Huylenbroeck G., Van Meensel J., 2007. Positive mathematical programming for agricultural and environmental policy analysis: review and practice. In: Handbook of operations research in natural resources (Weintraub A., Bjorndal T., Epstein R., Romero C., eds). Springer, Int Ser Oper Res Manage Sci. Vol 99, pp. 129-154.

Delforce R.J., Hardaker J.B., 1985. An experiment in multi attribute utility theory, Aust J Agr Econ 29(3), 179-198.

Dyer J.S., Fishburn P.C, Steuer R.E., Wallenius J., Zionts S., 1992. Multiple criteria decision making, multiattribute utility theory: the next ten years. Manage Sci 38(5), 645-654.

Gómez-Limón J.A., Riesgo L., 2004. Water pricing: analysis of differential impacts on heterogeneous farmers. Water Resour Res 40, W07S05.

Hayashi K., 1999. Multicriteria analysis for agricultural resource management: A critical survey and future perspectives. Eur J Oper Res 122, 486-500.

Heckelei T., Britz W., 2005. models based on positive mathematical programming: state of the art and futher extensions. 89th EAAE Seminar. Parma, Italy, February 3-5. pp. 48-73.

Howitt R.E., 1995. Positive mathematical programming. Am J Agr Econ 77(2), 329-342.

López Baldovín M.J; Gutiérrez C., Berbel J., 2005. Herramienta para el análisis de escenarios de política agraria y ambiental en el regadío del Valle del Guadalquivir. Rev Esp Estud Agrosoc Pesqu 205, 65-98. [In Spanish].

Maestu J., Gómez C.M., Gutiérrez C, 2008. El agua en la economía española: situación y perspectivas. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Madrid. [In Spanish].

OJ, 2000. Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of October 23 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy. Official Journal of the European Union L 327, 22.12.2000, pp. 1–73.

Paris Q., Howitt R.E., 1998. An analysis of III-posed production problems using maximum entropy. Am J Agr Econ 80(1), 124-138.

Playán E., Mateos L., 2006. Modernization and optimization of irrigation systems to increase water productivity. Agr Water Manage 80, 100–116.

Rausser G.C., Yassour J., 1981. Multi attribute utility analysis: The case of Filipino rice policy. Am J Agr Econ 63(4), 484-494.

Rehman T., Romero C., 1993. The application of the MCDM paradigm to the management of agricultural systems: Some basic considerations. Agr Syst 41(3), 239-255.

Romero C., Rehman T., 1984. Goal programming and multiple criteria decision-making in farm planning: An expository analysis. Am J Agr Econ 35(2), 177-190.

Romero C., Amador F., Barco A., 1987. Multiple objectives in agricultural planning: a compromise programming application. Am J Agr Econ 69(1), 78-86.

Sumpsi J.M., Amador F., Romero C., 1993. A research on the Andalusian farmers'objectives: methodological aspects and policy implications. VII EAAE Congress, Stresa Italy, Vol. D, pp. 53-68.

Tauer L.M., 1983. Target MOTAD. Am J Agr Econ 65(3), 606-610.

Torkamani J., Haji-Rahimi M., 2001. Evaluation of farmer's attitudes using alternative utility functional forms. J Agr Sci Technol 3, 243-248.

Watts M.J., Held L., Helmers G., 1984. A comparison of target-MOTAD to MOTAD. Can J Agr Econ 32, 175-85

DOI: 10.5424/sjar/20110904-514-10