Agricultural Water Conservation
Agricultural water conservation can be achieved by changes to increase water use efficiency on-farm and reduce water loss in transportation.
Large infrastructure changes such as piping canals to reduce water loss from seepage and evaporation can result in significant water savings. On-farm changes such as converting from flood irrigation to sprinkler or drip-irrigation systems, or using more efficient flood irrigation methods such as cut-off flood irrigation, can also result in large water savings; these on-farm changes reduce the amount of water needed to achieve the same amount of crop production, by decreasing losses from runoff and evaporation. Developing healthy soils can also contribute to increased water use efficiency from increased water retention.
Water conservation can result in more water available for agricultural production, as well as in some cases, for instream needs. The agricultural sector is one of the largest sources of water withdrawals nationally, and the largest in Oregon, as well as accounts for the largest consumptive use of water in the U.S. (meaning water that is used up, e.g. in plant production, evaporation); therefore there is potential for significant amount of water savings from conservation measures. While using limited resources more efficiently is always prudent, changes to increase agricultural water use efficiency in Jackson County have taken on more urgency in recent years with increased drought conditions and reduced irrigation water availability for producers.
Furthermore, changes to increase water conservation in irrigation can also result in significant water quality improvements.
Learn more about these topics at the pages below.
For technical assistance with these topics, contact our agricultural resource conservationist or soil and water conservation engineer.