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2014 ASHS Annual Conference

How Much Are Ornamental Growers Willing to Pay for Irrigation Technology?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014: 5:15 PM
Salon 5 (Rosen Plaza Hotel)
John Majsztrik, University of Maryland, Laurel, MD
Erik Lichtenberg, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Monica Saavoss, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Agricultural water use typically accounts for 80% or more of consumptive water use, and up to 90% of water use in many western states. Population growth, changing rainfall patterns, and drought will continue to stress the relationship between water for agriculture and domestic uses.  One way to reduce agricultural consumption is through increasing water application and uptake efficiency through better irrigation management practices.  Scheduling irrigation in ornamental operations is often based on past experience and qualitative information (container weight, plant or substrate appearance, etc.) that a grower gathers.  Wireless Sensor Irrigation Networks (WSIN) have  been shown to provide accurate, quantitative, real-time monitoring and control of moisture  status which, in on farm trials, has reduced irrigation costs, lowered plant loss rates, shortened production times, and decreased pesticide application, while increasing yield, quality, and profit.  An original survey was used to investigate grower perceptions of WSIN and determine likely initial acceptance, ceiling adoption rates, and profitability of this technology in the nursery and greenhouse industry.  Adoption rates for a base system and demand for expansion components were found to decrease with increasing price, as was expected.  Our estimates indicate that the overall adoption rate of WSIN is likely going to be higher than other forms of precisions irrigation (e.g. drip).  The estimated price sensitivity of a grower’s willingness to adopt this technology suggests that diffusion will occur more quickly than drip irrigation.   Our estimates suggest that this technology will have the greatest appeal for growers who specialize in ornamental production.  Growers earning greater shares of income from ornamental production were willing to pay more for a base system and purchase a larger number of expansion components.  We estimated that growers who were willing to purchase additional nodes expect investment in this technology to earn significant profit, which is consistent with findings from experimental studies.