The Farm Journal Media, formerly Kiplinger, publishes weekly newsletters with agricultural forecasts, statistics, and news. It’s a great resource for farmers and ranchers. In their November 28th, 2014 newsletter, they had an interesting section on water use.
Water is a very important resource for farmers, ranchers, production facilities, as well as individual citizens. With droughts hitting big agricultural states like California and Texas particularly hard, water has been in the news more and more. While some media channels have made it sound like farmers and ranchers are the sole cause of water shortages, the facts show that farmers are using the most advanced technologies available to maintain output while decreasing water usage across the country.
National water usage is at the lowest levels since before 1970, despite the increasing U.S. population. More than 50% of total water withdrawals in the United States were in just 12 states, including California, Texas, Idaho, North Carolina, Michigan and Alabama.
For the agricultural industry, water withdrawals have continued to decline since 2005. This is due to improved water conservation practices, and the increased use of high-efficiency irrigation systems on cropland. Many farmers are shifting to sprinklers and micro-irrigation systems, like driplines. The national average water application rate per acre has dropped from 2.32. acre-feet in 2005 to 2.07 acre feet in 2010.
So, America’s farmers and ranchers are producing more food on less land, and by using less of our precious fresh water supply.
Give our farmers three cheers for using our water so wisely!