Water Grand Challenges: Agricultural Irrigation Conservation
Adriving force behind economic success in Texas is a strong and fertile agricultural industry. Irrigation is vital for productive agricultural practices. Roughly two-thirds of Texas surface and groundwater use is accounted for through irrigation. Irrigated agriculture adds $4.7 billion in economic value to the state annually and provides the dominant area of employment for many rural areas. While the entire state benefits financially from agricultural success, certain regions depend upon it. Agricultural production accounts for 15 percent of the entire region’s economy in the High Plains, and adds 103,000 jobs directly from crop production. Due to regional difference the effects would be felt more severely in different areas if changes to agricultural methods were enacted. In the Texas High Plains, the total regional economic impact of converting all irrigated acres to non-irrigated dryland farming would be an annual net loss of over $1.6 billion of gross output, over $616 million of value added, and nearly 7,300 jobs. Loss of irrigation in the Winter Garden (Frio, Medina, Uvalde, and Zavala counties) would result in a loss of $55 million in vegetable and melon production, $22 million in additional economic activity, and 872 jobs. In Uvalde County alone, total economic impact of irrigated agriculture is estimated at $44 million and supports 600 jobs. In light of persistent drought and increasing competing water use demands from the municipal sector, irrigation conservation techniques are paramount to long-term agricultural and water sustainability. To tackle the environmental and economic concerns surrounding irrigation in Texas, continued innovative irrigation techniques are necessary.
water quality, conservation, agricultural irrigation, drought
Warren, E. (2013). Water grand challenges: Agricultural irrigation conservation (Report No. 2013-14). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.