Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2007


Published in GREAT PLAINS RESEARCH 17:1 pages 101-111 (Spring 2007). Copyright © 2007 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Irrigation is vital to the economic activity of the west-central Great Plains. The crops grown, the distribution of center-pivot irrigation systems, and the basic transportation infrastructure is the same in northwest Kansas, northeast Colorado, and southwest Nebraska. But buyers of agricultural land face a different price for irrigated cropland in each of the states, even when the production characteristics of the land are similar. After accounting for factors like productivity and local property tax differences, we argue that it is the difference in water marketing rights between the three states that explains the price difference. The link between land values and water marketing rights is statistically developed by using Ordinary Least Squared (OLS) regression techniques. After adjusting for differences in property taxes, the analysis reveals that the implicit value of full water-marketing rights in the region is approximately $1,026 per acre. This valuation is within the range of estimates provided by other comparable studies across the country.