Researchers who do not take into account farm heterogeneity in implementing specific climate change adaptation options might significantly bias their findings. To prove this point, this paper focusses on irrigation as an adaptation option to climate change and highlights the fact that there is no such thing as “irrigation.” Instead, different farms consider water management options across a spectrum that ranges from purely rainfed farms to purely irrigated farms with in between the extreme practices such as supplemental irrigation, water conservation practices, and different irrigation techniques. Accounting for such differences is necessary, yet difficult due to a lack of farm-specific data on water management and irrigation. This paper uses unique Farm Accountancy Data Network data of Western European farmers on the proportion of farmland that each farm irrigates. Unlike previous work, this allows taking into account some within-irrigation heterogeneity instead of simply categorizing farms as being “irrigated.” We estimate and compare climate response models based on the Ricardian cross-sectional method for a large range of irrigation categories. The results give insights into how the farm irrigation climate response can be significantly different depending on how irrigation is defined. This proves that ignoring within-adaptation differences when comparing non-adaptation with adaptation (in this case, rainfed versus irrigated agriculture) might lead to biased conclusions with regard to effectiveness of adaptation strategies. We therefore argue that it might be more relevant to understand at which point and under which circumstances irrigated agriculture is more or less beneficial than rainfed agriculture.
Climatic Change – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 16, 2018
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