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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Environmental Impacts of Irrigation

Author
item Trout, Thomas

Submitted to: Irrigation Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Irrigated agriculture impacts the environment. Irrigation is the largest water user worldwide. In the process of storing, diverting, transporting, irrigating, consuming, and draining water, the natural hydrology of a watershed is changed significantly. These changes impact the natural environment. River flows are altered and reduced, and sometimes depleted; groundwater levels may be lowered by pumping or raised by over irrigation; wetlands may be created or dried up. Drainage waters from agricultural lands are usually of poorer quality than the applied water and may carry other agricultural chemicals and naturally occurring substances into groundwater, rivers, and lakes. Although many of the environmental impacts of irrigation are negative, irrigation plays a critic role in providing food and fiber for our growing population. Forty percent of the world's food is grown on the 15% of the land that is irrigated. Most tof the world's fruits and vegetable are grown with irrigation. Providing the same food without irrigation would likely have even greater environmental impacts. We must educate the public of the benefits of irrigated agriculture and work to minimize the negative impacts.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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