Document Type : Research Paper
Optimization of land allocation in Golestan province for planting agricultural crops using compromise mathematical programming
Rational planning and optimization of agriculture are essential because of water and land constraints, the need to increase economic profit and to reduce the negative impacts of fertilizers and pesticides. To this end, decision-makers and planners need to acquire knowledge and information on the quantity, quality, type, and distribution and cultivation area of agricultural products. Therefore, for planning and management of local and regional agriculture, we need to know the distribution of agricultural crops and their planting pattern. Over the years, experts have researched the proper cultivation area for major crops. In this regard, optimization of land allocation in agricultural sector is very important. The agricultural economy will have sustainable growth if the cropping pattern is determined based on the environmental potential and climatic conditions of each region. It is necessary that environmental conditions, soil type, water resources, technology and other parameters be considered to achieve the optimal cultivation pattern.
Due to the variety of ecological and climatic conditions of Golestan Province of Iran, a relatively fertile land, availability of resources including surface water, adequate rainfall in parts of the province and human resources, relatively ideal conditions exist for agricultural development in the region. However, the agricultural status of this region is now unfavorable because of the lack of attention to the factors affecting the agricultural income such as product type, economic efficiency, crop performance, cultivation costs, required water for cultivation and other factors. Therefore, it is essential that rational management and planning be implemented to mitigate these problems and to increase the economic efficiency of the agricultural sector in the province. Accordingly, the main objective of this study is to optimize land allocation for grow crops and garden products based on the initial scenario of Jihad agricultural organization, current status and the environmental scenario to achieve economic goals and to identify capacities for various agricultural activities in this region. To this end, we analyzed agricultural scenarios based on compromise mathematical programming using multi criteria analysis tool (MCAT).
Materials & methods:
The study area is Golestan Province in the north east of Iran located between 52◦ 51' and 56◦ 21' E and 36◦ 24' and 38◦ 7' N. The climate, latitude, topography, water resources, and the natural vegetation of the region is diverse. The total area of the agricultural land in the province is about 679678 hectares and the irrigated cultivation is practiced in about 377866 hectares.
The results of the land use planning of Golestan Province showed that about 316326 hectares of irrigated land have suitable ecological capacity to grow crops and garden products. Accordingly, in this study we carried out land planning to determine the optimal area for cultivation of irrigated crops and garden products in accordance with the proposed scenario of Jihad agricultural organization of the Province, the current status scenario and the environmental scenario. First, a comparison matrix was formed based on the 36 proposed products and 12 optimization factors for the agricultural land allocation. The matrix was completed based on experts’ opinions and scientific information in relation to the crops and garden products. Also, the optimization criteria were weighted using Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) method using Expert Choice software. Due to differences in economic performance and strategic importance of the crops, we defined a prioritization factor for both positive and negative ideal values for each of the criteria. Next, data analysis was implemented based on the compromise mathematical programming using the MCAT software for land allocation for each of the products. The three scenarios including current (business as usual), organizational (the proposed Jihad agricultural organization) and the environmental option were assessed for performance of agricultural products.
Results & discussion:
The necessary data and information were collected and prepared using reports of the Jihad agricultural organization and the ongoing land use planning project of the Golestan Province (Salmanmahiny et al., 2013). After data analysis, weights assigned to the criteria shown in the Table 1. In addition, the results of land allocation to each of the agricultural crops are shown in the Table 2. In the end, the performance of all products was assessed on the basis of the criteria illustrated in the Table 3.
The results showed that water consumption with a weight of 0.261 is the most important criterion among the considered criteria because of its important role in agriculture. Also, the results illustrated that the production of clover, barley, wheat and canola with 12.37, 6.91, 6.81 and 6.08 percent of the total area of the irrigated land have priority for cultivation, whereas according to scenario of Jihad Agriculture Organization most of the province's irrigated land should be allocated to wheat, soybeans and cotton. In comparison, the environmental scenario indicated that water consumption, the need for machinery, fertilizer and chemical pesticides can be decreased, whereas, the employment, benefit to cost ratio, quantity of dry matter, share in household basket and performance ratio of agricultural products can be increased at the same time.
The results of this study clarified that the profitability and economic efficiency in the agricultural condition of Golestan Province can be increased by implementation of the environmental scenario. Moreover, this study shows that officials, managers, experts and farmers of the province can learn to reach an informed decision when optimizing the cultivation of each product using the results of the employed decision support system. Certainly, it would be useful to improve the agricultural condition of this region through considering the local conditions.