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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #320876

Title: Status and migration of irrigation in the USA

item Evett, Steven - Steve
item LAMM, FREDDIE - Kansas State University

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/4/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Irrigated agriculture produces 49% of crop market value on 18% of cropped lands in the USA. Irrigation is essential to the most highly productive, intensely managed, and internationally competitive sectors of our agricultural economy, which play a key role in meeting growing global food, fiber, and energy needs. Irrigation accounts for 40% of water withdrawals overall and more than 70% in more arid regions such as the western USA. Irrigation is the second largest user of freshwater resources, after thermoelectric generation. Although irrigated agriculture plays a major role in food, feed, fiber, and biofuel production, a complex system of competing and interacting water allocation claims from agricultural, energy industry, tribal, environmental and urban interests increasingly leaves agriculture with less water, or with lower quality water. Irrigated agriculture must respond with solutions that improve water use efficiency and extend water availability through options such as urban treated wastewaters, recycled drainage waters, and other low-quality waters such as from animal feeding, aquaculture and dairy operations and commodity processing plants. Economic and climate factors are hastening the transfer of water from agricultural to urban areas and the subsequent decrease of irrigated area in the West. At the same time, irrigated acreage is increasing in the Midwest, the Southeast and the Mississippi Delta regions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri. Competition for water has caused conflicts in areas where water was typically abundant. In these sub-humid and humid climates, irrigation problems are frequently different from those in more arid climates, requiring new solutions that are not directly transferable from the irrigated West. The USDA ARS Soil and Water Management Research Unit, Bushland, Texas, teamed with Kansas State University through the Ogallala Aquifer Program to investigate the migration of irrigation and changes in irrigation practice that are affecting overall water use efficiency in U.S. irrigated agriculture, and which hold promise for increasing water use efficiency and production in the nation while stabilizing water resource demands.