Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Wax, Charles L.

Committee Member

Schmitz, Darrel

Committee Member

Pote, Jonathan

Committee Member

McNeal, Karen

Committee Member

Brown, Michael

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


Ninety-eight percent of water taken from the Mississippi River Shallow Alluvial Aquifer, hereafter referred to as “the aquifer” or “MRVA,” is used by the agricultural industry for irrigation. Mississippi Delta agriculture is increasingly using more water from the MRVA and the aquifer has been losing about 300,000 acreeet per year. This research expands on previous work in which a model was developed that simulates the effects of climatic variability, crop acreage changes, and specific irrigation methods on consequent variations in the water volume of the MRVA. This study corrects an identified problem by replacing total growing season precipitation with an irrigation demand driver based on evaporation and crop coefficients and changing the time scale from the entire growing season to a daily resolution. The calculated irrigation demand, as a climatological driver for the model, captures effective precipitation more precisely than the initial growing season precipitation driver. Predictive equations resulting from regression analyses of measured versus calculated irrigation water use showed R2 and correlations of 0.33 and 0.57, 0.77 and 0.88, 0.71 and 0.84, and 0.68 and 0.82 for cotton, corn, soybeans and rice, respectively. Ninetyive percent of the predicted values fall within a range of + or - about 23,000 acreeet, an error of about 10-percent. The study also adds an additional conservation strategy through the use of surface water from onarm reservoirs in lieu of groundwater. Analyses show that climate could provide the entire water need of the plants in 70-percent of the years for corn, 65-percent of the years for soybeans and cotton, and even 5-percent of the years for rice. Storing precipitation in onarm structures is an effective way to reduce reliance of Delta producers on groundwater. If producers adopted, at a minimum, the 97.5:2.5 ratio suggested management practice, this minimal management strategy could potentially conserve 48-percent, 35-percent and 42-percent of groundwater for cotton, corn and soybeans, respectively. Even in extreme drought years such as 2007, cotton, corn and soybeans produced under the 97.5:2.5 management strategy could conserve 32-percent, 46-percent and 38-percent of groundwater, respectively.



water use||Mississippi River Valley Shallow Alluvial Aquifer||onarm storage reservoirs||climatic variability||climate||groundwater conservation||water resource conservation||Mississippi Delta||shallow alluvial aquifer||irrigation