Systems Modeling Sustainable Land and Water Policy in Alberta's Irrigation Sector
This project launched in 2013 and was completed in 2017. It focused on the opportunities and risks associated with irrigated agriculture in the province in the short and long-term. The objective of the program was to identify the relationships between irrigated agriculture and economic, environmental, social, and policy factors. It also sought to identify and assess the impacts of alternative policy options on the irrigation sector in the province over the next 25 years. This work was conducted in several stages.
First, a variety of water management policy options were identified through literature reviews, meetings with an advisory panel of stakeholders and policymakers, and the identification of cause-and-effect relationships between key economic, environmental and social factors. Identified options were then evaluated using a systems model that simulated the potential near and long-term economic, environmental and social impacts associated with the implementation of each option.
The new systems model developed, called CropSD, is one of the most detailed models of its kind for river basins in Canada. CropSD simulates crop biomass and yield for six crop types, calculates irrigation demand for each crop based on on-farm irrigation technologies, gross irrigation water demands based on the conveyance network, and reservoir releases to satisfy irrigation demands.
The study also found that the expansion of current public investment from both the provincial government (75 per cent) and irrigation districts (25 per cent) would be highly beneficial for producers, with a net-profit value of $78 million or $1,324 per hectare at the baseline discount rate of 10 per cent.
Dr. Evan Davies, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta
Dr. Miles Dyck, Associate Professor of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta.
Dr. Scott Jeffrey, Professor of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.
Dr. Feng Qiu, Assistant Professor of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.
Mohamed Ammar, PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta.
Bijon Brown, PhD student in Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.
Xiaofeng Ruan, PhD student in Renewable Resources, University of Alberta.
Dareskedar Amsalu, Masters student in Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.
Marie-Ève Jean, Masters student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta.
Dawn Trautman, Masters student in Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.
Dr. Jim Unterschultz, Associate Professor of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.
This project assembles a ten-person interdisciplinary team to explore the interaction of a variety of subsystems within Alberta’s irrigated districts.
Below are some of the primary research questions under investigation:
1. What economic, environment, social, and policy linkages exist related to agriculture, and how do these factors interact within Alberta’s irrigation districts?
2. What is the future outlook for irrigation, given changes in irrigated areas, crop types, infrastructure and climate, as well as regional development?
3. What are the current policies related to irrigation in Alberta, and what policies from similar jurisdictions might be applicable in Alberta?
4. What are the potential costs and benefits of existing and potential irrigation and water management policies in Alberta?
5. What outcomes related to water supply might develop under different economic, environmental, social, and policy scenarios?