Cloud Seeding Provides Significant Economic Impacts
A recent study from the NDSU Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics (Bangsund and Hodur, 2019) describes the significant economic benefits cloud seeding provides to agricultural production in the western North Dakota counties of Bowman, McKenzie, Mountrail, part of Slope, Ward and Williams. Average annual benefits for the nine crops included in the study range from $12.20 to $21.16 per planted acre for the years 2008-2017. Considering cloud seeding operations cost about $0.40 per planted acre, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
The economics of the North Dakota Cloud Modification Project (NDCMP) were evaluated based on long-term studies of the impacts of seeding on rainfall and hail. Rainfall enhancement effects were evaluated at 5 and 10 percent, which are the lower and upper bounds of typical results, while hail suppression was evaluated at a 45 percent reduction in crop loss. Impacts were computed for the eight most commonly planted crops in North Dakota plus alfalfa, which covers 96.5 percent of harvested acreage statewide on average for the study period.