Agricultural irrigation is essential for farms in many areas of the country where high temperatures and low rainfall make it a requirement - such as most of Texas. Currently, over one-quarter of all crops in Texas (which equal over 6 million acres), and 10 percent of all cropland in the entire country, are watered by ag irrigation systems. This equates to huge amounts of ground and surface water being used to water these areas to keep them productive. With these significant numbers, it is essential that crop growers understand how to get the most from their agricultural irrigation systems, and how to conserve water at the same time, to be able to continue growing years into the future.
The Challenges of Water Demand vs. Water Supply
In Texas, the source of most irrigation water is groundwater. This is significant, because as climates have changed, and more crops grown, there is more groundwater being used for irrigation on croplands each year than is being replaced into ground reservoirs. What this means is that without making efforts to conserve water, and irrigating more efficiently, the day will come when groundwater supplies are unable to supply enough to water the millions of acres that need it. When urbanization is added to this problem, along with the fact that experts estimate the population in the state could double in the next 50 years - conservation, and smart use of available water is even more critical.
Increasing Crop Yield Without Using More Water
One challenge in combating water problems for crop growing, is how to increase yield without increasing the amount of water used. There are a number of ways growers can do this. Their focus should be on how to accomplish this in order to benefit everyone. In Texas, one of these methods is to grow crops that are more suited to the particular growing and climate region, so less irrigation water is required. Also, plants with improved genetics, which are more drought resistant, are important as well. Although at the top of the list, is using efficient and smart irrigation methods by installing the most current agricultural irrigation systems. These systems are designed to deliver water where it is needed, without waste.
Improving Irrigation Methods
Although crop irrigation has come a long way from the time when flooding fields with irrigation channels was a main way of irrigating, efficient technology continues to develop. Switching farms over to these modern, and much more efficient irrigation systems is key. By using these systems, along with other important techniques, a farm can now see irrigation efficiency upwards of 88 percent - resulting in much less water wastage. Methods such as improving irrigation schedules to reduce water evaporation, developing water conservation practices, growing crop varieties that are less water dependent, and upgrading ag irrigation systems to those that reduce waste are all essential for reducing water consumption.
One of the most important points to consider is that in the state of Texas, along with many other growing areas throughout the country, farmers must both understand and practice water conservation. Preservation of groundwater supplies is essential to the continued productivity of crops. Therefore, the use of modern, efficient agricultural irrigation systems, as part of a well-managed water conservation program, is essential. Also, older ag irrigation systems and methods should be analyzed for efficiency, and making improvements for more direct, efficient water delivery is definitely recommended!
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