Irrigation Enhances and Stabilizes States’ Economies

posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013

When you think of irrigation your first thoughts are probably about the circles of green you see when flying over Midwestern states. Or, if you've driven through Nebraska on Interstate 80 you have a picture in mind of the countless pivots pouring water on tall corn and leafy green soybeans.

Many years ago I traveled the state of Illinois. I seldom, if ever, saw a pivot irrigation system. More recently I had the opportunity of traveling through Illinois on highway 92 and was amazed at the number of pivot irrigation systems either operating or under construction. Last week I had a chance to visit with some farmers in Indiana and found out that pivot irrigation systems are on the rise there as well.

Why is irrigation growing in states that typically receive more rainfall than states like Nebraska? It's because they don't always get that rainfall on time and in adequate amounts. A recent study completed by Decision Innovation Solutions for the Nebraska Farm Bureau provides some insight on the value of irrigation. The report shows the overall economic contribution of irrigation in Nebraska for 2012 was $11 billion.

Irrigation provides the potential for increased yields by allowing the farmer to plant more seeds per acre knowing that the irrigation is there in case the rain is inadequate. These increased yields have a positive effect on the overall economy for the state. Another contribution irrigation makes to a state's economy is the stabilization potential. While other natural disasters (hail, flood, severe wind) can still wipe out a crop, the effects are generally more sporadic than drought conditions.

As drought conditions persist and the growth in deployment of irrigation systems continues, we can expect a lot of attention on water resources. Hopefully all interested parties will have a good understanding of the positive effect irrigation has on economies and work for balanced solutions to long term quality and stability of water resources.

  1. economic contribution
  2. farm bill
  3. irrigation
  4. nebraska