High-resolution model for estimating the economic and policy implications of agricultural soil salinization in California

2017-09-13T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Paul Welle Meagan Mauter
This work introduces a generalizable approach for estimating the field-scale agricultural yield losses due to soil salinization. When integrated with regional data on crop yields and prices, this model provides high-resolution estimates for revenue losses over large agricultural regions. These methods account for the uncertainty inherent in model inputs derived from satellites, experimental field data, and interpreted model results. We apply this method to estimate the effect of soil salinity on agricultural outputs in California, performing the analysis with both high-resolution (i.e. field scale) and low-resolution (i.e. county-scale) data sources to highlight the importance of spatial resolution in agricultural analysis. We estimate that soil salinity reduced agricultural revenues by $3.7 billion ($1.7–$7.0 billion) in 2014, amounting to 8.0 million tons of lost production relative to soil salinities below the crop-specific thresholds. When using low-resolution data sources, we find that the costs of salinization are underestimated by a factor of three. These results highlight the need for high-resolution data in agro-environmental assessment as well as the challenges associated with their integration.