The use of semi-structured interviews for the characterisation of farmer irrigation practices

J. O'Keeffe, W. Buytaert, A. Mijic, N. Brozovic, R. Sinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Generating information on the behaviours, characteristics and drivers of users, as well on the resource itself, is vital in developing sustainable and realistic water security options. In this paper we present a methodology for collecting qualitative and quantitative data on water use practices through semi-structured interviews. This approach facilitates the collection of detailed information on actors' decisions in a convenient and cost-effective manner. The interview is organised around a topic guide, which helps lead the conversation in a standardised way while allowing sufficient opportunity to identify relevant issues previously unknown to the researcher. In addition, semi-structured interviews can be used to obtain certain types of quantitative data. While not as accurate as direct measurements, it can provide useful information on local practices and farmers' insights. We present an application of the methodology on two districts in the State of Uttar Pradesh in North India. By means of 100 farmer interviews, information was collected on various aspects of irrigation practices, including irrigation water volumes, irrigation cost, water source and their spatial variability. A statistical analysis of the information, along with some data visualisation is also presented, which highlights a significant variation in irrigation practices both within and between the districts. Our application shows that semi-structured interviews are an effective and efficient method of collecting both qualitative and quantitative information for the assessment of drivers, behaviours and their outcomes in a data scarce region. The collection of this type of data could significantly improve insight on water resources, leading to more realistic management options and increased water security in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8221-8246
Number of pages26
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 24 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'The use of semi-structured interviews for the characterisation of farmer irrigation practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this