Corn Remains King in USDA Irrigation Survey
By Brooke Barton
Senior Program Director, Water Program, Ceres
It’s no secret that our agricultural industry is very thirsty, gobbling up 80 percent of the freshwater that America consumes each year. It takes a lot of water to feed the nation, and every five years we get an accounting of just how much it takes, for what crops and at what cost, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey. The latest survey, released in November, shows an overall positive trend of irrigation water use declining, even as water use for certain crops, like corn, continues to soar.
Corn used 14 percent more irrigation water in 2013 than in 2008, according to survey results, while water use for all crops combined declined 3.7 percent (and 9 percent since 1998, the highest year on record). (Figure 1) Those are remarkable findings considering corn production also used more irrigation water than any other crop.
American farmers are adopting more efficient irrigation techniques, which helps explain the overall drop in water use, but they are also facing decreased water availability due to a spate of recent droughts in the Midwest, Texas and California. With —> Read More Here