Irrigation and water use efficiency

  • Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Excerpted from the Environmental Impact of Missouri Crop Production report

  • Irrigation water use in Missouri increased from 1990 to 2000. Since that time, it has remained fairly constant.

Total Missouri water withdrawals from groundwater and impounded surface water sources in 2010 were estimated to be 8,570 million gallons per day (Mgal/d). Water used for irrigation accounted for 16.3% (1,400 Mgal/d) of total water used in Missouri during 2010. Irrigation is the second-highest use of water in Missouri.

Total water use in Missouri, 2010

Total water use in Missouri, 2010
Source: USGS, Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010. Irrigation includes urban irrigation, such as golf courses and parks.

In 2013, Missouri had 1.2 million acres of irrigated farmland. The map below shows irrigated acres by county in Missouri during 2010. The majority of irrigated acres were located in southeast Missouri and along the Missouri River. The 10 counties which make up the bootheel region of Missouri — Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Ripley, Scott and Stoddard — accounted for 85.8% of Missouri’s irrigated acres.

Map of irrigated acres in Missouri by county, 2010

Map of irrigated acres in Missouri by county, 2010
Source: USGS, Water Use Data 2010. Irrigation includes urban irrigation such as golf courses and parks.

In 2010, the majority of irrigated acres in Missouri (58%) were irrigated using surface irrigation. Sprinkler and micro-irrigation systems, which use water more efficiently than surface irrigation systems, were used on 42% of irrigated acres in Missouri. Micro-irrigation was only used on 2,100 acres in Missouri, 0.2% of irrigated land. Nationwide, sprinkler and micro-irrigation systems are used more often than in Missouri. The graph below shows irrigation system usage from 1990 to 2010 in Missouri.

Irrigated land by type of irrigation in Missouri, 1990–2010

Irrigated land by type of irrigation in Missouri, 1990–2010
Source: USGS, Water Use Data 19902010. Irrigation includes urban irrigation such as golf courses and parks.

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