Agricultural Irrigation

James Adkins came to us to discuss irrigation practices in agricultural settings. When he said that 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated, I was surprised. I thought that almost all farmland was irrigated. I was expecting a number closer to 70%.

I immediately understood the pain of the first sprinkler systems where you had to take apart the aluminum poles to move them, and then put them back together in the new area. It didn’t seem fast or easy at all. Putting the same system on wheels so you could just roll them to the next area seemed like a huge improvement, at least from a convenience and headache point of view. What he didn’t talk about much though, in any method of irrigation, was how efficient it was in the amount of water was actually taken up by crops and how much either evaporated or left the rootzone before it could be utilized. I did find it a little shocking when he said that someone can purchase a plot of land and have no rights to the water on the land- be it a river or an underground aquifer. Once I thought about it, it made at least some sense. Water doesn’t listen to arbitrary property boundaries, and anything that happens upstream can greatly impact everything downstream. Farmers must be careful to not overtax the resources they are using in order to protect the health of the land for others and for the future.

Leave a Reply