Back to Top

Adapting to Water Restrictions: Intensive versus Extensive Adaptation over Time Differentiated by Water Right Seniority

AAEA members release new research in AJAE

New research in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics finds that water use restrictions in the Walnut Creek area of Kansas caused farmers with junior water rights, who faced a more stringent restriction, to decrease their water use by 18 % by applying less water per acre, but the restriction also prompted an additional 26 % reduction by decreasing irrigated acres.

The article “Adapting to Water Restrictions: Intensive versus Extensive Adaptation over Time Differentiated by Water Right Seniority” by Dietrich Earnhart from the University of Kansas and Nathan Hendricks from Kansas State University, also shows how farmers adaptated over time and how the stringency of the restriction based on the seniority of the water right resulted in different adjustments.

Earnhart says, “We find senior water rights primarily reduced their water use by reducing the intensity of irrigation on existing irrigated acres while junior water rights reduced both their intensity and the number of irrigated acres. The program imposing the restrictions allocates permission to extract groundwater in five-year allotments and we find evidence of strategic water use within each five-year allotment period.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes three journals, the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (an open access journal), the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Ware
Senior Communications & Membership Manager
(414) 918-3190