Irrigated Farms: More Productive on Less Land

Farms that irrigate are leading the way with a 10% increase in the market value of their products. Compiled by staff

Published on: Jun 4, 2004

American farmers are more productive, but farms that irrigate are leading the way with a 10% increase in the market value of their products, according to farm census data released Thursday.

The 2002 Census of Agriculture shows the number of acres of irrigated farmland declined 1.7% since the last agriculture census in 1997 -- but the market value of products from farms that irrigate rose 10% to $82 billion in 2002.

Former Irrigation Association President Adam Skolnik says the numbers reflect a move in American agriculture toward more efficient irrigation systems, which produce higher yields with less water, fertilizer and pesticide.

"The agriculture community is stepping up their efforts to put in more efficient systems," Skolnik says. Farms are moving from flood systems to more efficient pressurized systems.

"We have to be more efficient with everything that we do, just to survive. The farming community is applying lean processes. Irrigation is one component."

The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service does a complete census of agriculture every five years.

The 2002 census shows the market value of agricultural products from farms that were not irrigated declined about 6% from 1997 to 2002 on 3% less land. Overall farm acreage declined 1.7%.

The total market value of farm products in the United States declined by .3% to about $2.006 billion while the number of acres farmed decreased nearly 4%.