ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF THE RETURNS TO IRRIGATION INVESTMENT FOR WILD BLUEBERRIES
Wild blueberry growers in Maine have increased their state-wide crop yield from 10,000 to 38,000 t per year over the past 20 years by adopting improved management practices. Highly variable and insufficient rainfall patterns have prompted farmers to consider irrigation as a method to further improve crop productivity and reduce risk of crop failure due to drought. Currently, approximately 4,000 of the 26,000 ha in wild blueberry production are irrigated. An understanding of the costs of and potential returns to irrigation provides growers better information to use in determining whether to make the large investment decision. Four irrigation systems: 1) a handline moveable large gun, 2) a hose reel large gun, 3) a handline small sprinkler and 4) a permanent set small sprinkler were evaluated on 10, 20 or 40 ha fields. This study focused on an economic analysis of irrigation costs, both ownership and operating, using partial cost budgets of each irrigation system and operation size. Using this cost analysis a modified breakeven analysis was conducted. The study highlights key differences in system design, cost and input requirements to provide farmers with the background to choose a system that gives the best returns for their operation.
Dalton, T.J., Files, A. and Yarborough, D. (2003). ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF THE RETURNS TO IRRIGATION INVESTMENT FOR WILD BLUEBERRIES. Acta Hortic. 626, 249-257
Investment cost, ownership costs, operating costs, irrigation, wild blueberries