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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Water management practices, irrigated cropland

item Eisenhauer, D
item Bjorneberg, David - Dave
item Westermann, Dale

Submitted to: Environmental Benefits of Conservation on Cropland: The Status of Our Knowledge
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/29/2006
Publication Date: 12/15/2006
Citation: Eisenhauer, D.E., Bjorneberg, D.L., Westermann, D.T. 2006. Water management practices: Irrigated cropland. In: Schnepf, M., Cox, C., editors. Environmental Benefits of Conservation on Cropland: The Status of Our Knowledge. 1st edition. Ankeny, IA: Soil and Water Conservation Society. p. 131-148.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Irrigation is practiced on about 17 percent of the world’s arable land and accounts for 33 percent of the world’s food production. U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs are commonly used to improve water management on irrigated land and reduce impacts of irrigation on the environment and natural resources. Goals of water management practices are generally to decrease evaporation and reduce overland runoff and deep percolation of water and contaminants. While a wide range in values are reported, irrigation system efficiency can easily be improved to 80 percent or more. Improved irrigation management can significantly reduce water diversions or withdrawals but this does not directly translate to saving water that will be available for downstream or other uses. Water lost to runoff or deep percolation can still be used downstream, however, improving irrigation water management usually improves water quality by reducing soil erosion, nutrient and pesticides loses with runoff, and salt in return flows. Irrigated agriculture is a vital component of the food and fiber production system in the United States and around the world. Environmental and water quality problems commonly associated with irrigated agriculture can largely be minimized with known management practices and properly designed systems.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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