The latest government report shows that 55.3 million acres of U.S. farmland is irrigated. This news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) found that there were 229,237 farms making up those acres, down from 2008’s 235,715 farms.
“The 2013 irrigation survey expands on the data collected about irrigation during the 2012 Census of Agriculture and provides the most comprehensive source of up-to-date information regarding on-farm irrigation and water use in the United States,” said NASS Administrator Joseph T. Reilly. “The latest report reveals key data on the agriculture industry’s use and stewardship of our nation’s water resources.”
Data highlights from the 2013 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey include:
* The largest portion of irrigated farmland acres in the United States were dedicated to harvested cropland – including grain and oilseed crops, vegetables, nursery and greenhouse, and hay crops.
* Farmers irrigated nearly 52 million acres of harvested cropland acres in 2013.
* The irrigation results show more irrigated acres with sprinkler systems than gravity irrigation.
* Equipment, in general, is one of the leading irrigation expenditures with farmers and ranchers spending $2.6 billion on irrigation equipment, facilities, land improvements and computer technology in 2013.
* The total amount of water used in 2013 was 88.5 million acre feet.
* The average acre feet applied was 1.6 which compares with 1.7 in the 2008 irrigation survey. (An acre foot is the volume of a sheet of water one acre in area and one foot in depth).
* Irrigated area of horticulture under protection was 1.40 billion square feet in 2013. This compares with 1.37 billion square feet in 2008.
* Irrigated acres of horticulture grown in the open was 524 thousand acres in 2013. This compares with 580 thousand acres in 2008.
USDA officials say this survey is imprtant for farmers and ranchers “looking for more efficient ways to irrigate their land and ways to reduce their expenses … to help them make informed decisions about the future of their operations.”