Economic Analysis of Recapturing and Recycling Irrigation Techniques on Horticulture Nurseries
Ferraro, Nathaniel Klug
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The horticulture industry is facing limited water resources and public pressure to reduce non-point source pollution. In some circumstances, recapturing and recycling of irrigation water in horticultural nurseries can generate significant savings relative to the costs of alternative water sources and potentially reduce non-point source pollution. However, obtaining these savings may also incur substantial risk and capital cost outlays. Disease risk may increase in nurseries that implement recapturing and recycling if recycled water is not properly treated. These added costs must be compared with costs of alternative sources of water, such as municipal or well water. This study employed partial budgeting to compare irrigation water being extended or supplemented through recapturing and recycling against the most feasible alternative. On-site visits were conducted to obtain information for partial budgets and to clarify the reasoning of nurseries choosing to recycle irrigation water. The partial budgets were supplemented with sensitivity analysis with regard to the extraction cost of water and opportunity cost of land used for recapture of water. Six of eight nurseries obtained water from recapturing and recycling at a lower cost compared to a feasible alternative source. The regrading of land for maximum recapture, opportunity cost of land dedicated to a recapture pond, and the cost of municipal water were parameters that were critical to the irrigation choice. Sensitivity analysis indicated that water price and land cost had little effect on the least cost option. Irrigation recycling could be incentivized to motivate further water conservation within the horticulture industry.
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