Developing irrigator types from clustered values

Kuehne, G., Bjornlund, H., and Cheers, B. (2008) Developing irrigator types from clustered values. In: Proceedings of the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition. 663811. From: IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition, 7-12 September 2008, Vienna, Austria.

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Australia's rapid development of irrigated agriculture has led to increasing water scarcity, tension between competing uses of water and a recognition that more water needs to be retained in the rivers for the environment. Since irrigators use 70% of all water extracted for consumptive use, achieving water reform objectives will necessarily depend heavily on this sector's collaboration. One of the government's objectives is to provide more water to the environment through voluntary buybacks from irrigators. The success of this policy will require irrigators to be willing sellers and assumes that irrigators react in an economically rational manner. However, increasingly research suggests that this might not be the case.

This research aims to show that irrigators' decisions are based not only on economic factors but are also strongly influenced by their values towards family, land, water, lifestyle and community; and that an improved understanding of these values could result in better policy design and execution.

A phone survey was carried out with 121 Namoi Valley groundwater licence holders obtaining their ratings against 50 value and attitude statements. Cluster analysis was used to define three groups of irrigators sharing common values. To investigate how these groups differ in their farm management behaviour personal qualitative interviews were conducted. We describe the groups as being: Providers - family oriented; Lifestylers - valuing their lifestyle; Investors - profit oriented.

Water is more than an economic good; it also has a social dimension. Water policy reforms usually require community involvement and acceptance but often attempt this without regard for the social dimension, resulting in unintended and occasionally undesired outcomes. Our findings suggest that to be successful policy instruments should acknowledge farmers' heterogeneity and the influences on their behaviour beyond profit maximisation.

Item ID: 29489
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
Keywords: cluster analysis, farmers, irrigators, non-commercial values, water reform
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Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2014 06:08
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 100%
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