A simulation and optimization model was developed and applied to an irrigated area in Delta, Utah to optimize the economic benefit, simulate the water demand, and search the related crop area percentages with specified water supply and planted area constraints. The user interface model begins with the weather generation submodel, which produces daily weather data, which is based on long-term monthly average and standard deviation data from Delta, Utah. To simulate the daily crop water demand and relative crop yield for seven crops in two command areas, the information provided by this submodel was applied to the on-farm irrigation scheduling submodel. Furthermore, to optimize the project benefit by searching for the best allocation of planted crop areas given the constraints of projected water supply, the results were employed in the genetic algorithm submodel. Optimal planning for the 394·6-ha area of the Delta irrigation project is projected to produce the maximum economic benefit. That is, projected profit equals US$113 826 and projected water demand equals 3·03 × 106 m3. Also, area percentages of crops within UCA#2 command area are 70·1%, 19% and 10·9% for alfalfa, barley and corn, respectively, and within UCA#4 command area are 41·5%, 38·9%, 14·4% and 5·2% for alfalfa, barley, corn and wheat, respectively. As this model can plan irrigation application depths and allocate crop areas for optimal economic benefit, it can thus be applied to many irrigation projects. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.