Community and Regional Planning Program


Date of this Version

Spring 2018


Jones, H. P., K. Schoengold, Z. Tang, Y. Nam, and D. Varner. (2018). An Application of Economics & Environmental Planning: The Impacts of Variable Rate Irrigation Technology on Net Farm Income. University of Nebraska - Lincoln Digital Commons.


PROFESSIONAL PROJECT FOR THE DEGREE: Master of Community and Regional Planning, Community and Regional Planning Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Spring 2018.

Copyright (c) 2018 Hannah Jones


Restoring playa wetlands back into predominantly agricultural landscapes has been a pressing issue for decades. The Nebraska Rainwater Basin Joint Venture (RWBJV) and its partners represent a wide variety of private and public groups who are offering solutions to this problem, while helping farmers maximize net farm income. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln partnered with the RWBJV on a project to determine how Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) technology would impact the profitability of farm management operations, while allowing the preservation of adjacent wetland areas. This study conducted an economic analysis that compared net farm income for producers that had participated in wetland restoration and adoption of VRI. Crop Enterprise Budgets were used to analyze the fluctuations in operational variables that may be affected by VRI. The feasibility of this technology was determined by using a discounted payback model with different levels of cost-share assistance over a two year period. Several scenarios were created to highlight how specific variables can greatly affect the model. The results of this study show that grazing infrastructure played a critical role in the feasibility of this investment. The benefits that were seen from this single resource were enough to potentially offset other setbacks and to give economic and environmental planners a powerful tool for convincing producers to participate. Increasing the longevity and quantity of research studies similar to this will be necessary to determine what specific input cost variables are being effected by VRI in the future.