Summary of Results

Main sections in this summary include:

Background

Irrigation is critical to agriculture in the United States: 50 percent of the value of all crops sold comes from irrigated farms accounting for only 28 percent of all harvested cropland (USDA/NASS, 2012 Census of Agriculture). Total farm sales for all farms in 2012 was $394.6 billion (averaging $187,097 per farm), while irrigated farms contributed $152.4 billion (averaging $514,412 per farm). Farm sales from crop production alone was at $212.4 billion for all farms (averaging $205,754 per farm) and $106.3 billion for irrigated farms (averaging $444,231 per farm). Irrigated agriculture is particularly important for agriculture in the 17 Western States, where irrigated farms account for about 71 percent of total farm sales from all U.S. irrigated farms (averaging $571,757 per farm), and 71 percent of U.S. irrigated cropland acres.

Irrigated agriculture produces field crops, pasture, and horticulture crops on acres in the open (AIO), as well as horticulture under protection (HUP) (in greenhouses, etc. measured in square-feet units). Based on 2013 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey (FRIS) irrigated farms and their associated 2012 farm sales, irrigated horticulture farms across the U.S. accounted for $16.5 billion in farm sales, about 12.1 percent of the farm sales for all irrigated farms. Farm sales for horticulture farms in the western States was at $6.9 billion (42.0 percent of the farm sales from all U.S. irrigated horticulture farms, and 7.1 percent of the farm sales from all western States’ irrigated farms). Farms across the U.S. with horticulture under protection (HUP) accounted for $12.1 billion in farm sales, about 8.8 percent of farm sales for all U.S. irrigated farms. HUP farms in the western States accounted for $4.7 billion in farm sales (38.9 percent of the farm sales from all U.S. HUP farms, and 4.8 percent of the farm sales from all western irrigated farms).

The vast share of water used for agriculture is associated with irrigation water applied to crop production on AIO, with non-horticulture crop AIO water use accounting for 98.30 and 98.04 percent of the total in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Horticulture crop AIO water use accounted for an additional 1.67 and 1.90 percent, respectively, and HUP irrigated crop production accounted for an additional 0.03 and 0.06 percent for the two regions, respectively. Clearly, FRIS data for 2013 suggests that while irrigation efficiency may be important from both economic and resource use/allocation perspectives across all agricultural categories, conservation-assistance programs are likely to have a greater water-conservation impact emphasizing improved water-use efficiency across non-horticulture AIO-based crop production (the sector of irrigated agriculture accounting for the much larger share of agricultural water use).

This data product summarized the farm-structural characteristics of irrigated farms for all 50 States [as well as for the 17 western States (total) and for the total U.S.] based on irrigation characteristics reported in USDA's 2013 FRIS, for four farm-size classes defined using "total farm sales" (FS) from the 2012 Census of Agriculture carried over to FRIS (by farm observation)―specifically for: 1) low-sales farms (FS < $150,000); 2) moderate-sales farms (FS $150,000 to < $350,000); 3) mid-size farms (FS $350,000 to < $1,000,000); and 4) large-scale farms (FS $1,000,000 and more). Key irrigated agriculture characteristics and their farm-size attributes are summarized below.

Characteristics for All Irrigated Farms

Farms, Irrigated AIO, and Applied Water Use on AIO

  • Most irrigated farms, 64 percent across the U.S. (and 67 percent for the western States) are low-sales farms. Low and moderate-sales farms together account for 75 and 78 percent of irrigated farms for the U.S. and the 17 Western States, respectively. Less than 25 percent of all irrigated farms had farm sales equal to or greater than $350,000 across both regions, while less than 12 percent of irrigated farms across the U.S. were large-scale farms and less than 10 percent in the Western States.
  • However, larger irrigated farms account for most irrigated acres in agricultural production across the U.S. and in the Western States. For the U.S., of the 55.3 million irrigated acres in the open (AIO) in 2013, nearly 82 percent are associated with mid-size and large-scale farms (FS ≥ $350,000), with 60 percent associated with the largest farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). For the Western States, 78 percent of all irrigated acres in the open are associated with mid- to large-scale farms.
  • In addition, it is larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) that account for nearly 82 percent of the 88.5 million acre feet (maf) of farm water applied to AIO across the U.S. in 2013, and 79 percent of the 72.9 maf of farm water applied to AIO in the Western States. For the U.S., large-scale irrigated farms alone (FS ≥ $1,000,000) (just 12 percent of all irrigated farms) accounted for nearly 62 percent of water applied to AIO, while in the West, large-scale irrigated farms (for 10 percent) accounted for 58 percent of water applied to AIO. Low- and moderate-sales irrigated farms, nearly 75 and 78 percent of all irrigated farms for the U.S. and for the Western States, respectively, accounted for only 18 and 21 percent of farm water applied to AIO across the U.S. and the West, respectively.
  • In 2013, about 37.2 and 24.2 million AIO across the U.S. and in the West, respectively, were irrigated using some groundwater (GW) pumped from aquifers―67 and 61 percent of total irrigated AIO across the U.S. and in the West, respectively. Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for most irrigated AIO using groundwater―88 percent across the U.S. and 85 percent in the West. Large-scale irrigated farms alone across the U.S. applied 32.8 maf of groundwater (68 percent of the U.S. total), while this group of farms in the West applied 23.1 maf of groundwater (64 percent of the total in the West).
  • In 2013, about 4.1 and 6.4 million AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, were irrigated using water from onfarm surface-water (OnFSW) sources (rivers, lakes, and streams, etc. on the farm)―10 and 12 percent of total irrigated AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively. About 56 and 60 percent of all AIO using OnFSW in the West and across the U.S. were on large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Irrigators applied about 7.0 and 9.2 maf of OnFSW to these AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively (9.6 to 10.4 percent of total water applied to AIO in these regions). The larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for 74 percent of applied OnFSW to AIO in the West, and 78 percent in the eastern States.
  • In 2013, about 13.7 and 14.5 million AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, were irrigated using water from off-farm surface water (OfFSW) sources―34.5 and 26.1 percent of total AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively. [OfFSW may include water purchased from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; a State, county, or local district; mutual, private, cooperative, or neighborhood ditches; or commercial or municipal water systems.] Across the U.S. (and the West), larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for 67-68 percent of the AIO irrigated with OfFSW, but in both regions, smaller irrigated farms (FS ≤ $350,000) accounted for a larger share (31 to 32 percent) of the AIO irrigated with OfFSW than what occurred with either groundwater or OnFSW. Irrigators applied 29.9 and 30.8 maf of OfFSW to these AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, (41 and 34.8 percent of total water applied to AIO in these regions). In the West and across the U.S., much of the OfFSW applied to AIO (72 percent) was applied by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000).
  • Water applied to all AIO (on non-horticulture and horticulture farms), plus the acre-feet equivalent of water applied to horticulture under protection (HUP) (crops grown within greenhouse, etc.) for 2013, totaled 72.9 maf in the West and 88.5 maf for the U.S. HUP alone accounted for just 19.9 thousand acre-feet of water applied in the West (0.03 percent of total water applied in the West) and for just 55.0 thousand acre-feet of water applied across the U.S. (0.06 percent of total water applied across the U.S.). While 80 and 60 percent of the water applied to HUP crops is applied by large-scale HUP operations in the West and across the U.S., respectively, the overall farm-size distribution of applied water remains similar to that for water applied to total AIO (because water applied to HUP is less than 1 percent of the overall total). That is, for 2013, large-scale farms account for 58 and 62 percent of total agricultural applied water in the West and across the U.S., respectively.

Average Farm Size Characteristics (Farm Sales and AIO)

Average farm-size can be characterized in terms of both total farm sales value (for 2012) and acres in the open (AIO) per 2013 irrigated farm.

  • Most irrigated farms were quite small in total farm sales value. Across the U.S. about 64 percent of irrigated farms (those with FS < $150,000) had an average total farm sales value of $29,997 per irrigated farm, while large-scale irrigated farms (the 12 percent with FS ≥ $1,000,000) had an average total farm sales value of $3.8 million per irrigated farm. Farm-size differences are slightly more dramatic across the western States, with average farm sales ranging from $27,767 per irrigated farm for low-sales farms to nearly $4.41 million per irrigated farm for large-scale farms. For all low-sales farms (FS < $150,000), average sales per irrigated farm ranged from $13,317 for New Mexico to $69,107 for Nebraska. But, for all large-scale farms (FS > $1,000,000), average farm sales ranged from $1.97 million for Missouri to $8.3 million for Maine, $7.8 million for Oklahoma, and $5.2 million for California.
  • Average farm irrigated acreage measured 241 acres per irrigated farm across the U.S. (for irrigated AIO on non-horticulture and horticulture farms), and 235 acres per irrigated farm for the Western States. Average irrigated AIO ranged from 35 and 41 acres per irrigated farm for low-sales farms across the U.S. and the Western States, respectively, to 1,210 and 1,273 acres per irrigated farm for large-scale operations across these regions, respectively. [Note: Because statistics for "farm irrigated acres" removes the "rangeland" influence (associated with "total farm acres"), farm-size variability reflected in average farm irrigated acres per farm across States is likely more meaningful.]
    • AIO irrigated with groundwater (GW) averaged 307 and 322 acres per farm in the West and for the U.S. in 2013. These per farm acres varied significantly across farm-size classes, ranging from 39 acres for low-sales farms to 1,134 acres for large-scale farms in the West, and from 33 to 1,165 acres for these farm-size classes across the U.S.
    • AIO irrigated with onfarm surface water (OnFSW) averaged 200 and 186 acres per farm in the West and for the U.S. in 2013. Across farm-size classes, these averages ranged from 42 acres per farm for low-sales farms to 697 acres per farm for large-scale farms in the West, and from 33 to 563 acres per farm for these farm-size classes across the U.S.
    • AIO irrigated with water from off-farm water suppliers (OfFSW) (publicly supplied water) averaged 152 and 150 acres per farm in the West and for the U.S. in 2013. For OfFSW irrigated acres, these average statistics were very similar by farm-size class between farms in the West and across the U.S., ranging from 38-40 acres per farm for low-sales farms to 937-941 acres per farm for large-scale farms for the two regions, respectively.

Average Water-Use Rates (Total and by Water Source)

Water-use for agriculture varies significantly across farm-size classes, but the variability in intensive- and extensive-margin water-use rates by farm-size can also provide information helpful to formulating future agricultural water conservation policy. Such information can be helpful in addressing the appropriate policy roles for conservation through improved onfarm irrigation efficiency (an intensive-margin policy focus), or through water-resource reallocation within agriculture as well as to satisfy increasing water demands for growing non-agriculture sectors, including the environment (an extensive-margin policy focus).

  • Per irrigated farm, total water applied to AIO averaged 430 and 386 acre-feet per farm in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, but ranged from 73 and 59 acre-feet per farm for low-sales farms to 2,521 and 1,995 acre-feet per farm for large-scale farms in the two regions, respectively. Per irrigated acre, water application rates (across all water sources) were less variable, averaging 1.7 and 1.4 acre-feet per acre in the West and across the U.S., respectively. These rates ranged from 1.6 to 1.9 acre-feet per irrigated acre between low-sales and large-scale farms in the West, but were much more even across the U.S., ranging from 1.4 to 1.5 acre-feet per irrigated acre between these farm-size classes.
  • Applied water rates demonstrate that while large-scale irrigated farms were the slightly more intensive-margin irrigation operations (via their higher per acre application rates), they were also the more extensive-margin water-use operations (via their much higher per farm application rates)─a fact heavily influenced by their higher average acres irrigated per farm.
  • Across the U.S. and in the West, intensive-margin water use (per acre application) tends to be greater for surface-water irrigation (particularly for water applied from off-farm sources).
    • Application rates for groundwater averaged 1.3 and 1.4 acre-feet per acre across the U.S. and in the West, respectively (for farms using groundwater on AIO in 2013). These rates for off-farm surface water averaged 1.7 and 1.8 acre-feet per acre across the U.S. and in the West, respectively (for farms using off-farm surface water on AIO). Average rates for onfarm surface water use generally fall between the rates for groundwater and for off-farm surface water.
  • So, barring consideration of crops irrigated (and all other factors), FRIS intensive-margin water-use statistics suggest that groundwater is likely more efficiently applied than irrigation using surface-water sources. This is understandable, given that groundwater is generally the higher cost irrigation alternative.

Off-farm Surface Water Use and Purchased Water Costs

  • Most off-farm surface water (OfFSW) was applied to irrigated agriculture in the West. Only 32 percent of all irrigated farms in the U.S. reported having purchased water costs for OfFSW supplies in 2013. Nearly 90 percent of these farms were in the western States, and most were low-sales farms (about 75 percent in the West and across the U.S.). But, farms in the West using OfFSW supplies accounted for 97 percent of OfFSW use across the U.S. (29.9 out of 30.8 maf), with 51 percent of OfFSW use in the West applied on large-scale irrigated farms.
  • Farms in the West paid purchased water costs totaling $741.9 million in 2013, with 68.2 percent of these costs paid for by large-scale farms. Costs for publicly-supplied water averaged about $73.52 per acre (or $31.30 per acre-foot) across the West in 2013. This average ranged, in the West, from $36.34 per acre ($17.96 per acre-foot) for moderate-sales irrigated farms to $98.92 per acre (or $39.86 per acre-foot) for large-scale irrigated farms. These expense rates were only slightly higher for OfFSW costs in the eastern States.

Irrigation Pumping Costs

Pumping water from a surface water source or from a well incurs pumping costs which vary based on a variety of factors such as the distance required to lift the water (pumping head), system pressure, and by the energy source used to power the pump (electric, natural gas, diesel fuel, gasoline, use of LP gas, propane, or butane, or solar).

  • In 2013, it cost irrigated farms in the West $2.1 billion, and across the U.S. $2.7 billion, to pump water from wells and/or surface-water sources to irrigate both AIO and horticulture under protection. Across the West and for the U.S., large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) incurred the larger share of these pumping costs (63 and 65 percent, respectively).
  • Per farm irrigation pumping costs (across all energy sources, except solar) averaged $17,866 across the U.S. and $20,710 for irrigated farms in the West for 2013. However, significant variability exists across farm-size, varying from $2,263 to $71,023 per farm between low-sales and large-scale farms across the U.S., and from $2,767 to $91,769 per farm for these farm classes in the West.
  • Per acre irrigation pumping costs (across all energy sources, except solar) averaged $90.89 across the U.S. and $100.53 for irrigated farms in the West for 2013. Across the U.S., these costs were lowest for larger irrigated farms [ranging from $57.32 to $59.18 per acre for mid-size and large-scale farms] and highest for low-sales irrigated farms (at $115.94 per acre). In the West, pumping costs per acre were $127.21 per acre for low-sales farms, and $71.14 per acre for large-scale farms.

Irrigation pumping costs vary significantly depending upon the energy source used to power irrigation pumps, and across farm-size classes.

  • Electric powered wells/pumps were, by a significant margin, the dominant power source for irrigation wells and pumps across the U.S. and for the western States in 2013, costing farms $1.8 and $1.6 billion and accounting for 75 and 69 percent of all pumping cost expenditures for the two regions, respectively. Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounted for nearly 85 percent of these pumping costs for each of the two regions.
    • Farms using electricity to power well/pumps for irrigation incurred an average cost of $95.84 per acre across the U.S. and $101.31 per acre in the West. Costs per acre were higher for low-sales farms, ranging from $121 to $125 per acre across the U.S. and in the West, than they were for large-scale farms, which ranged from $62 across the U.S. to $75 per acre in the West.
  • Wells/pumps powered with natural gas were used on only 5.2 and 7.3 percent of farms using wells/pumps across the U.S. and in the West in 2013. These farms spent a total of $221.9 and $218.2 million in pumping costs in 2013 across the U.S. and in the West, respectively (just 8.3 and 10 percent of total irrigation pumping expenditures for the two regions, respectively). Most, 98.3 percent of these costs occurred in the western States, but even so, for both regions, 70 percent of the farms using this energy source were larger-sized farms.
    • Farms using natural gas to power well/pumps for irrigation incurred an average cost of $61 to $63 per acre across the U.S. and in the West, respectively, ranging from $37 to $39 per acre for low-sales farms to $55 and $58 per acre for large-scale farms for these regions, respectively.
  • Wells/pumps powered using LP gas, propane or butane were used on only 4.0 and 4.5 percent of irrigated farms using wells/pumps across the U.S. and in the West, respectively, in 2013. Irrigation pumping costs for this energy source amounted to $38.2 and $28.7 million in pumping costs in 2013 across the U.S. and in the West, respectively (representing only 1.4 and 1.3 percent of total irrigation pumping expenditures for the two regions, respectively). About 75 percent of these costs occurred in the western States, but from 62 to 68 percent occurred on larger-sized farms in the two regions, respectively.
    • Pumping costs for this energy source averaged $66 to $68 per acre for the two regions, ranging from $98 to $113 per acre for low-sales farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, and from $50 to $45 per acre for large-scale farms in the two regions, respectively.
  • Wells/pumps powered using diesel and biodiesel fuels were used on 21 and 16 percent of irrigated farms using wells/pumps across the U.S. and in the West, respectively, in 2013. Irrigation pumping costs for this energy source amounted to $554.0 and $285.4 million across the U.S. and for the West, (20.7 and 13.3 percent of total irrigation pumping costs for the U.S. and the West, respectively). Nearly 85 percent of these costs in the West, and 88 percent for the U.S., were incurred by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000).
    • Pumping costs for this energy source averaged $108.70 per acre across the West and $89.38 per acre across the U.S., but ranged from $182 and $235 per acre for low-sales irrigated farms (for the U.S. and the West, respectively) to $64 and $75 per acre for large-scale farm operations (for the two regions, respectively).
  • Wells/pumps powered using gasoline and its blends were used on only 1.3 and 3.1 percent of irrigated farms using wells/pumps in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Farms using this energy source spent $6.3 and $2.5 million in pumping costs (less than 1 percent of total irrigation pumping costs) for the U.S. and the West, respectively. But, the larger share of pumping costs for this energy source (59 to 62 percent) were incurred by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) for the two regions, respectively.
    • Pumping costs using this energy source averaged $88.24 per acre across the U.S. and $59.23 per acre in the West, but ranged from $58 and $86 per acre in the West and across the U.S., respectively, for low-sales irrigated farms to $171 and $87 per acre for large-scale farms in these regions, respectively.
  • Wells/pumps powered using solar were used on only about 1 percent of irrigated farms with wells/pumps in the West or for the U.S., accounting for less than 1 percent of all wells/-pumps powered with an energy source. However, most of the farms using solar to power wells/pumps, 85 percent, are low-sales farms both in the West and across the U.S. [Note: FRIS 2013 did not provide information on pumping costs for solar powered irrigation.]

Irrigation Maintenance and Repair Expenses

Irrigation maintenance and repair expenses can vary by type of irrigation investment, region, and farm-size. (In FRIS 2013, these expenses were jointly reported with scheduled irrigation replacement costs because of producer difficulty in separating these estimates.)

  • So, scheduled replacement and irrigation maintenance and repairs cost irrigated farms $1.2 billion across the U.S. in 2013 (nearly $852 million in the western States). Only about 27 percent of all irrigated farms in the West or across the U.S. reported incurring such expenses, with roughly 72 percent of these farms being low- to moderate-sales farms. However, nearly 80 percent of the expenditures for these irrigation costs were incurred by mid-size to large-scale farms.
    • These expenses averaged $80.32 per acre in the West and $87.67 per acre across the U.S. in 2013. In the West, these expenses were much smaller for low-sales farms ($48.73 per acre) than they were for large-scale farms ($82.03 per acre), but across the U.S. these expenses averaged $94.46 per acre for low-sales farms and $85 per acre for large-scale farms. On a per acre-foot applied basis, these expenses ranged from $37.12 per acre-foot in the West to $49.87 per acre-foot across the U.S.

Irrigation Hired and/or Contract Labor Statistics

Irrigated agriculture makes use of both hired and contract irrigation labor. For 2013, only 15 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. reported using hired irrigation labor, i.e., labor hired specifically to implement irrigation activities. Most of these farms, 74 percent, were located in the 17 western States. Slightly less than 3 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. made use of contract labor to implement activities for irrigated crop production in 2013, with nearly 82 percent of these farms located in the West.

  • For 2013, irrigated agriculture made use of nearly 70 million hours of hired irrigation labor, with 86 percent used in the West, and California alone accounting for 57 percent of the labor hours used in the West. However, opposite the distribution of farms using hired irrigation labor, nearly 71 percent of the hired irrigation labor hours were paid for by large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) in the West and across the U.S. [FRIS did not report hours for contract irrigation labor.]
  • Hired irrigation labor expenditures amounted to $671.3 and $789.3 million in the West and for the U.S., respectively, in 2013. For both regions, nearly 68 percent of these expenses were incurred by the largest irrigated farms.
    • Average costs per farm were $26,995 in the West, and $23,380 for the U.S. in 2013, but varied widely, ranging from $16,123 per farm for mid-size farms to $63,141 per farm for large-scale farms in the West, and from $10,123 per farm for low-sales farms to $50,438 per farm for large-scale farms across the U.S.
    • Per acre, hired irrigation labor averaged $628 in the West and $841 across the U.S. in 2013. However, these costs averaged $972 per acre for low-sales farms and $468 per acre for large-scale irrigated farms across the U.S. in 2013.
  • Contract irrigation labor expenditures in the West and across the U.S. ranged from $142.2 to $160.6 million, respectively, for 2013, with the West accounting for nearly 89 percent of these expenses. California alone accounted for 73 percent of these expenses in the West. About 80 to 82 percent of these expenses were incurred by large-scale farms.
    • Average costs per farm were $28,535 and $26,334 in the West and for the U.S., respectively, in 2013, but also varied widely, ranging from $4,194 per farm for low-sales farms to $83,143 per farm for large-scale farms in the West, and from $4,789 per farm for low-sales farms to $72,398 per farm for large-scale farms across the U.S.
    • Per acre, contract irrigation labor averaged $37 in the West and $43 across the U.S. These costs ranged from $52 per acre for low-sales farms to $39 per acre for large-scale irrigated farms across the U.S.

Onfarm Irrigation Application Systems

Onfarm irrigation technologies used to apply irrigation water to acres-in-the-open (AIO) consist of gravity-based systems, pressure-sprinkler systems, and drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray systems. Gravity-based systems may make use of alternative field water-application systems (such as furrow gravity or uncontrolled field flooding), field-level water-conveyance (delivery) (such as use of head-of-the-field lined or unlined open-surface ditch water delivery, or underground or above ground pipe delivery), or use of precision-leveled or zero-graded (laser-leveled) acres. Sprinkler systems can consist of low-, medium-, and high-pressure (measured by PSI = pounds-per-square-inch) systems for center-pivot, linear-move, and solid set/permanent-set systems, as well as hand-move systems or mechanical-move systems involving side-roll, wheel-move, or big gun/traveler systems. Drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray systems may include surface or subsurface drip-tape water delivery via use of low-pressure (5 to 30 PSI) emitters, or use of micro-sprinklers perched on inline risers.

  • Gravity irrigation systems (all types) were used to irrigate 13.5 and 21.5 million AIO in the West and for the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (34 and 39 percent of all irrigated acres in these two regions, respectively). About 67 and 77 percent of total gravity irrigated acres for these regions are on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000).
    • Gravity flood irrigation systems (all types) were used to irrigate 7.9 and 11.0 million acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, accounting for 59 and 51 percent, respectively, of all gravity irrigated acres for these regions. Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for 63 percent of flood irrigated AIO in the West and for 71 percent of such acres across the U.S.
    • Gravity furrow irrigation systems (all types) were used to irrigate 5.6 and 10.5 million acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, accounting for 41 and 49 percent, respectively, of all gravity irrigated acres for these regions. Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for 73 percent of furrow irrigated AIO in the West and for 83 percent of such acres across the U.S.
  • Pressure-sprinkler irrigation systems (sprinkler plus drip/trickle/low-flow/micro-spray systems) were used to irrigate 30.5 and 39.8 million AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (69 and 65 percent of all irrigated acres in these two regions, respectively). Most pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres were on larger farms (FS ≥ $350,000), 82.5 and 84.2 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively, while nearly 60 percent were associated with the largest farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000).
    • Center-pivot (CP) sprinkler systems (for high, medium, or low PSI) were used to irrigate 21.9 million AIO in the West and 27.9 million AIO across the U.S. in 2013, accounting for 72 and 70 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively.
      • High-pressure CP systems accounted for 5.1 and 6.1 percent of all CP irrigated AIO in the West and for the U.S., respectively. About 85 to 87 percent of these AIO were on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) for these regions.
      • Medium-pressure CP systems accounted for 45.7 and 48 percent of all CP irrigated AIO in the West and for the U.S., respectively. Nearly 63 and 66 percent of these acres were on large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) for the two regions.
      • Low-pressure CP systems accounted for 49.2 and 45.8 percent of all CP irrigated AIO in the West and for the U.S., respectively. About 54 and 57 percent of these acres were on large-scale farms for these regions.
    • Linear-Move and solid-set sprinkler systems (all pressure types) were used to irrigate 1.6 million AIO in the West and 2.1 million AIO across the U.S. in 2013, accounting for about 5.3 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S. About 63 percent of these AIO were on large-scale irrigated farms.
    • Hand or mechanical-move and big gun/traveler sprinkler systems (all pressure types) were used to irrigate 2.6 and 3.2 million AIO in the West and for the U.S. in 2013, respectively (accounting for 8.4 and 8.1 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated AIO in the two regions, respectively). For AIO using mechanical-move or big gun/traveler systems, these acres were fairly uniformly distributed between smaller and larger irrigated farms, however, for AIO irrigated with hand-move systems, these acres were also fairly evenly distributed, but mostly just between low-sales or large-scale farms.
    • Drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigation systems irrigated 3.6 and 4.9 million AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for 11.9 and 12.3 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres in these regions). While low-sales farms account for 72-74 percent of irrigated farms using these systems, 87 to 88 percent of all drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres were irrigated by larger farms, with 74 to 75 percent irrigated by large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000).

Onfarm Water-Management Practices

Onfarm irrigation water-management practices are critically-important to furthering the advancement of multiple public resource-conservation policy goals, including improving onfarm water conservation (through improved irrigation efficiency), reducing off-farm water-quality impacts (through reduced losses/transfer of nitrates/phosphates and other chemicals downstream and to aquifers), enhancing farm drought-management capabilities, and improving the stewardship of both farm and watershed-level ecosystem resources for their long-term sustainability. The 2013 FRIS reported on two farm-level water management items that effectively help to redefine the traditional farm irrigation application technology definition to encompass a broader farm irrigation ‘production system’ concept, allowing for a more effective measurement indicator of irrigated agriculture’s ability to meet conservation policy goals. These water-management items relate to: 1) the extent producers participate in the use of onfarm gravity water-management practices, that is, how the water is managed/applied once it reaches the farm and/or the field; and 2) a farm’s level of irrigation water-management intensity, that is, the level at which producers apply water management at the intensive margin, or the degree of sophistication used in determining when to apply irrigation water for a given crop and by how much.

Onfarm gravity water-management practices can include several system-oriented practices, such as: i) use of tailwater pits to capture irrigation runoff, restricting runoff by diking the end of the field, limiting irrigation set times or the number of field irrigations, or irrigating only alternative rows (furrows); ii) using a surge-flow or cablegation system, or applying mulch or other types of row covers; and iii) use of precision-leveling or zero-grading of gravity irrigated acres; as well as several field-level practices, such as: iv) using shortened furrow lengths, applying water-soluble polyacrylamide (PAM), or applying special furrowing practices such as wide-spaced bed furrowing, compacted furrows, or furrow diking.

  • Use of tailwater pits to capture field irrigation runoff, end of field dikes to restrict field runoff, limiting the number of irrigation set times or the number of field irrigations, or irrigating only alternate rows (furrows) were practices applied to only 23.1 percent of gravity-irrigated acres in the West (and to 19.6 percent across the U.S.) in 2013. In the West and across the U.S., these practices were applied fairly evenly across farm-size classes.
  • Use of a surge-flow or cablegation system, or applying mulch or other types of row covers were applied to only 3.3 percent of gravity-irrigated acres in the West (and to 2.4 percent across the U.S.) in 2013. These practices were applied fairly uniformly across farm-size classes in both regions.
  • Use of precision-leveling or zero-grading (laser-leveling) of gravity irrigated acres were applied to 14.7 percent (1.99 million acres) of total gravity-irrigated acres in the West [and to 18.1 percent (3.9 million acres) across the U.S.] in 2013.
    • Precision-leveling or zero-grading gravity-irrigated acres eliminates variation in field gradient ─ smoothing the field surface and often reducing field slope ─ to help control water advance and improve uniformity of soil saturation across the field. Laser-leveling a field is the second most frequently used gravity water-management practice.
    • Nearly 56 percent of these acres across the U.S. (2.2 million acres) were in Arkansas and California ─ with California accounting for 1.2 million acres. In the West, 61 percent of these acres were gravity-irrigated on the largest irrigated farms, while across the U.S. 70 percent of these acres were irrigated on large-scale farms.
  • Use of shortened furrow lengths, applying water-soluble polyacrylamide (PAM), or applying special furrowing practices such as wide-spaced bed furrowing, compacted furrows, or furrow diking were applied to only 6.9 percent of gravity-irrigated acres in the West (and to 5.8 percent across the U.S.) in 2013. Shares for these practices varied little across farm-size classes in the West and for the U.S.

Irrigation water-management intensity may include practices assisting the producer to decide when and how much irrigation water to apply based on the "condition of the crop", "feeling the soil", a personal calendar schedule, when their neighbor irrigates, use of soil- and/or plant-moisture sensing devices, use of a commercial irrigation-scheduling service, and/or use of computer crop-growth simulation models, etc. However, use of these practices involves more technical information systems generally demonstrating a higher level of human capital investment. FRIS reported this information only on a "farm-level participation basis," not on an acreage basis.

  • Irrigators depended heavily on the more conventional means of making onfarm irrigation decisions in the West and across the U.S. in 2013. Both observing the condition of the crop [used by nearly 75 percent of irrigated farms in the West (and 78 percent across the U.S.)] and feel-of-the-soil [used by 38 to 39 percent of irrigated farms in these regions] are by far the dominant means irrigators use to make irrigation decisions.
  • The next level of conventional water-application decisions included using crop irrigation calendar schedules (by 24 percent of irrigated farms in the West and 21 percent across the U.S.); applying water whenever it is delivered to the farm "in-turn" by the local water-supply organization (by 22 and 16 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively); and use of media reports on crop-water ET needs or just following the lead of one’s neighbor when making irrigation decisions (applied by less than 10 percent of irrigated farms in both regions).
  • Only about 19 percent of irrigated farms in the West (17 percent for the U.S.) use one or more modern means of deciding when and how much irrigation water to apply [that is, use of soil- and/or plant-moisture sensing devices (applied by 10 and 2 percent of irrigated farms, respectively), use of commercial or government irrigation scheduling services (by 8-9 percent of irrigated farms), and/or use of computer-based crop-growth simulation models (applied by less than 1 percent of irrigated farms)]. Use of the more modern practices is only slightly more favored by smaller-irrigated farms (FS < $350,000), accounting for 57-59 percent of the farms using these practices in the West and across the U.S.
  • FRIS data demonstrates that there likely exists significant potential for improving irrigation water-use efficiency through more extensive adoption of onfarm water-management practices designed to improve producer irrigation decisions, both in the West and across the U.S. Advancing these improvements through conservation program assistance would likely require greater emphasis placed on irrigation information systems and human-capital development rather than physical irrigation systems.

Onfarm Irrigation Efficiency

Irrigation efficiency varies widely across farm-level irrigation technologies. While onfarm irrigation application efficiency technically refers to the relative amount of applied water that gets taken up through plant consumptive-use—in general, the ratio of plant consumptive-use to actual water applied―FRIS data is insufficient to estimate this measure. So here, relative irrigation efficiency is estimated, separately for pressure-sprinkler and gravity system irrigation, based on the share of acres-in-the-open irrigated with "higher efficient" irrigation application systems (but excluding consideration of the use of onfarm water-management practices).

  • Higher-efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation [measured by the share of AIO irrigated with low-pressure-sprinkler, drip/trickle, and low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres] ranges between 37 and 49 percent (relative to total farm irrigated acres and total pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres, respectively) in the West, and between 33 and 46 percent, respectively, for the U.S. Efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation is slightly higher in the western States than in the eastern States.
    • Larger irrigated farms (FS > $350,000) are slightly more efficient with pressure-sprinkler irrigation than are smaller irrigated farms. Higher-efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation for low- and moderate-sales farms (FS < $350,000) (measured relative to all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres) averages between 40 to 47 percent, respectively, across the West and for the U.S., while for larger irrigated farms (FS > $350,000) the rating averages between 46 to 50 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres.
    • Across farm-size classes, while the relative efficiency "improvement potential" may be slightly greater for smaller irrigated farms than for larger farms—60 and 55 percent, respectively―larger irrigated farms irrigate many more acres, so the likely conservation effect of efficiency improvement could be much greater for these farms.
  • Higher-efficient gravity irrigation [measured by the share of AIO irrigated with furrow gravity-irrigated acres involving the use of a below or above-ground pipe (including poly-pipe) or a lined open-ditch field water-delivery system, and flood irrigated acres that occur between borders or within basins (but limited to farms using laser-leveled acres and using a pipe or a lined open-ditch field water delivery system)] ranges between 11 and 32 percent (relative to total farm irrigated acres and total gravity irrigated acres, respectively) in the West, and between 17 and 45 percent, respectively, for the U.S.
    • Opposite of pressure-sprinkler irrigation, efficient gravity irrigation is slightly higher in the eastern States than in the western States. This should be expected given the relatively higher dominance of gravity irrigation in the East and its more recent development, therefore, more likely to be making use of the more efficient systems.
    • Larger irrigated farms (FS > $350,000) are somewhat more efficient with gravity irrigation than are smaller irrigated farms. Higher-efficient gravity irrigation for low- and moderate-sales farms (FS < $350,000) (measured relative to all gravity irrigated acres) averages between 22 to 23 percent, respectively, across the West and for the U.S., while for larger irrigated farms (FS > $350,000) the rating averages between 38 to 53 percent of all gravity irrigated acres.
    • The relative efficiency "improvement potential" for gravity irrigation is likely much greater for smaller irrigated farms than for larger farms (averaging about 75 percent versus 68 percent, respectively, for the West and across the U.S.).
  • For further discussion of improved onfarm irrigation efficiency in U.S. irrigated agriculture, its role within USDA agricultural water conservation policy, and its potential role in promoting a sustainable future for U.S. irrigated agriculture within an expected environment of increased water scarcity due to climate change, see book Chapter 2.1.1 titled Challenges for U.S. Irrigated Agriculture in the Face of Emerging Demands and Climate Change (G.D. Schaible and M.P. Aillery), in Competition for Water Resources: Experiences and Management Approaches in the US and Europe, eds. Jadwiga Ziolkowska and Jeffrey Peterson, Elsevier Publishing (October 2016).

Sources of Irrigation Decision Information

Producers vary in the sources of the information they use to help them make irrigation decisions that assist in reducing irrigation costs and/or to conserve water.

  • All irrigators use one or more irrigation information sources. The two dominant sources include information received from farm neighbors (by 27 and 24 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively) or from extension agents and university irrigation specialists (by 24-26 percent of irrigated farms in the two regions).
  • Irrigators depend the least on irrigation information from media reports or the press, ranging from 9-10 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S.
  • More uniformly used information sources include the use of government specialists (from USDA’s NRCS, local conservation districts, BoR, etc.), electronic services (internet, etc.), or private irrigation specialists or consultants (used by 13 to 18 percent of irrigated farms in the West); and local irrigation district employees (or others hired by the water supplier) or irrigation equipment dealers (used by 11 to 18 percent of irrigated farms across the U.S.).
    • Low-sales irrigated farms tend to depend much more heavily on irrigation information from their neighbors (ranging from 62-66 percent of these farms in the West and across the U.S.) or from local irrigation district employees or others hired by the local water supplier (ranging from 69-72 percent of these farms for the two regions).
    • Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) generally make relatively similar use of all irrigation information sources, except that more of these farms tend to make heavier use of private irrigation specialists or consultants (ranging as high as 47-50 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S.)

Barriers to Onfarm Irrigation System Improvements

Barriers to farm-level irrigation system improvements effectively slow the rate of change in the adoption of more-efficient irrigation technology systems designed to reduce energy and/or conserve water.

  • Three factors: i) investigating improvements were not a priority at the time; ii) lack of financing ability, and iii) uncertainty about future availability of water were the three primary barriers restricting investment in onfarm irrigation system improvements in 2013 (reported by 14 to 22 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively).
  • Other factors were also reported as barriers to system improvements, but by fewer farms (7-15 percent). These barriers included increased risk of reduced crop yield or a poorer quality crop, existence of physical field or crop conditions limiting system improvements, improvements were recognized as uneconomic, or that appropriate improvements were viewed as increasing management time and cost, or that the farms remaining operational life would be too short to justify new improvements.
  • Lack of landlord participation in cost-sharing improvements was identified as the least important barrier to making additional onfarm irrigation system investments (reported by only 6 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S.).
  • Most barriers to onfarm irrigation system improvements apply more heavily to smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000), implying that conservation financial assistance programs, when implemented in support of small farm policy goals, can likely have an impact, even while also supporting watershed-level water conservation goals.

Farm-Level Irrigation Investments

FRIS reported on irrigated farm expenditures for irrigation facilities and equipment made in 2013, for six investment expenditure categories, the acres affected by each of these investments, the primary purpose of the investment, and the primary source of funding assistance used to purchase the investment. The six investment categories reported included: i) purchase of new or replacement irrigation equipment and machinery; ii) new well construction or deepening of existing wells; iii) construction or improvement of permanent onfarm storage and distribution systems; iv) purchase of computers, control panels, computer-controlled valves, software, etc.; v) clearing or leveling non-irrigated land for new irrigation acres (for irrigation expansion); and vi) land leveling of previously irrigated land.

  • Most irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. did not make investment expenditures for irrigation facilities and equipment in 2013―only about 39 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. made such investments. Nearly 75 percent of these farms were in the West. Also, 60 to 63 percent of these farms across the two regions were low-sales irrigated farms.
  • Irrigated farms invested $1.9 billion in irrigation facilities and equipment (of all types) in the West, and $2.6 billion across the U.S. in 2013. However, opposite the distribution of "farms" making these investments, 75 to 78 percent of investment expenditures were made by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, with 55 to 58 percent of these investments being made by large-scale farms.
    • The average per farm irrigation investment expenditure (across all types) was $29,003 in the West and $29,717 across the U.S., but varying significantly across farm-size classes, ranging from $6,906 to $116,202 per farm for low-sales and large-scale farms, respectively, in the West, and from $6,401 to $107,164 per farm for these farm groups, respectively, across the U.S.
    • The average per acre irrigation investment expenditure (across all types) was $310.96 per acre across the U.S. in 2013. Investments were much higher (per acre) for low-sales farms than for large-scale farms, ranging from $389 and $469 per acre for low-sales farms to $146 and $289 per acre for large-scale farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively.
    • Shares of total irrigation investment expenditures made in 2013 by irrigation investment type, and their average investment cost, in the West and for the U.S. included:
      • 71 percent for new or replacement irrigation equipment and machinery, averaging $414 and $469 per acre for the two regions, respectively.
      • 16 to 17.5 percent for new well construction or deepening of existing wells, averaging $71 and $83 per acre for the two regions, respectively.
      • 3 to 4 percent for construction or improvement of onfarm permanent water storage and distribution systems, averaging $17 and $42 per acre for the two regions, respectively.
      • 2.5 percent for computers, control panels, computer-controlled valves, software, and software controlled hardware for irrigation water management, averaging $11 and $18 per acre for the two regions, respectively.
      • 1.6 to 2.9 percent for clearing or leveling of non-irrigated land (for irrigation expansion), averaging $27 and $37 per acre for the two regions, respectively.
      • 4 percent for land leveling of previously irrigated land, averaging $22 per acre for the two regions, respectively.

The primary purpose of irrigation investments likely influences their ultimate farm, resource, and environmental impacts. For each investment expenditure type, survey respondents reported the primary purpose of the expenditure as either new irrigation expansion, for water conservation, for energy conservation, or for scheduled replacement or maintenance. [No primary purpose was reported for investment expenditures for "clearing or leveling non-irrigated land for new expansion"―these investments were assumed to be for "new irrigation expansion."]

  • Nearly half of irrigation investment expenditures, 44.7 and 42.2 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively, were made for the purpose of scheduled replacement or maintenance and repairs in 2013. Most (80 percent) of these expenditures were made by larger irrigated farms, with 56-58 percent being made by large-scale farms alone.
  • New irrigation expansion, the second most important investment purpose, accounted for 26.8 and 33.5 percent of total irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Most of these expenditures, 75-80 percent, were also associated with larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000).
  • Improving onfarm water conservation accounted for 23.7 and 19.8 percent of total irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Most of these expenditures (68 to 71 percent, respectively) were also associated with larger irrigated farms.
  • Energy conservation (based on investment shares) was the least frequently identified purpose for making irrigation investments, accounting for just 4.8 and 4.5 percent of total irrigation investment expenditures in the two regions, respectively, in 2013. These expenditures were also heavily associated (by 80-83 percent) with larger irrigated farms for the two regions.

The primary source of funding for irrigation investments comes from both private and public sources, reported by FRIS as including receiving "no funding assistance" (privately funded), assistance through "USDA’s EQIP program", assistance from "other USDA financial programs," or receiving assistance from "non-USDA financial assistance programs." For irrigated farms making one or more types of irrigation investments in 2013:

  • Most (93 percent) made their 2013 investments from private funding sources, i.e., they received no funding assistance. About 74 percent of these farms were in the West, with 62 - 66 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively, being low-sales farms.
  • Only 3.2 percent of these farms in the West or across the U.S. made use of USDA’s EQIP program to assist in funding investments. The larger share (62 and 57 percent for these regions, respectively) were smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000).
  • Only 1.5 percent of these farms in the two regions used other USDA programs to assist in funding investments. Farms using these programs were fairly uniformly distributed across farm-size classes.
  • Only 5.2 to 5.8 percent of the irrigated farms making irrigation investments in the two regions made use of non-USDA programs to assist in funding investments. These farms were also fairly uniformly distributed across farm-size classes.

Participation in Public Technical and/or Financial Assistance Programs (2009–13)

The 2013 FRIS sheds insight into onfarm irrigation-improvement investments partially funded through public technical and/or financial assistance programs across farm-size classes during the period 2009-13. However, this participation information is available only on a "farm-level basis," not on an acreage basis. In addition, FRIS reported irrigated farm participation, separately for technical and/or financial assistance, by major program category for: i) USDA programs for water conservation and environmental improvements [including the Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), and the Conservation Innovation Grants Program (CIG); ii) other USDA programs designed to enhance farm stewardship [via the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)] or private resource easements [using the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP), or the Farm & Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)]; iii) non-USDA Federal programs [from the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other Federal programs]; iv) state programs [including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)] and local water management or water supply districts; and v) private businesses, which may include equipment dealers, bankers, or lenders.

  • During the period 2009-13, only about 8.5 to 8.7 percent of 2013 irrigated farms in the West or across the U.S. received either technical of financial assistance from any Federal, State, or other publicly-funded assistance program for onfarm irrigation or drainage improvements.
    • Only 6.5 percent of these irrigated farms across both regions received financial assistance from just any Federal program alone during 2009-13.
  • USDA technical and financial assistance programs for water conservation and environmental improvements accounted for the largest shares of farm participants across all program categories (from 4.4 to 5.5 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S.).
  • Private businesses such as equipment dealers, bankers, or lenders were the second largest source for technical and/or financial assistance for irrigation or drainage improvements (accounting for 4 percent of irrigated farms within both regions).
  • The remaining program categories: other USDA programs, non-USDA Federal programs, and State/local/water-management/water-supply district programs all individually accounted for less than 1.5 percent of irrigated farms (in both regions) that used technical or financial assistance during 2009-13.
  • USDA programs for water conservation and environmental improvements (CTA, EQIP, AWEP, WHIP, and CIG) and private businesses emphasized providing technical and/or financial assistance more to smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000)─farms accounting for 53-62 percent of the irrigated farms using these programs for the two regions, respectively.
  • Other USDA programs for improved farm stewardship (CSP, CRP, WRP, GRP, or FRPP) emphasized financial assistance for irrigation/drainage improvements on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000)─farms accounting for 56 - 60 percent of the irrigated farms using these programs for the two regions, respectively.
  • Non-USDA Federal programs (i.e., from the BoR or EPA, etc.) and State/local water-management/water-supply district programs emphasized providing financial assistance for irrigation/drainage improvements more uniformly across smaller and larger irrigated farm operations for the two regions, respectively.

Characteristics for All Irrigated Horticulture Farms

Farms, Farm Sales, Farm AIO, Irrigated AIO, Water Applied to AIO and HUP Area

Irrigated horticulture farms apply surface and groundwater resources to both horticulture and non-horticulture (H & NH) crop acres in the open (AIO), and to horticulture under protection (HUP) (measured in square-feet area). The following statements first summarize aggregate farm-level characteristics for all irrigated horticulture farms, their total and irrigated AIO and applied water (horticulture and non-horticulture), both total and by water source. Then, the discussion summarizes irrigated horticulture crop AIO alone and its applied water (by water source), as well as irrigated HUP crop water use (by water source and total) (in acre-feet equivalent units).

  • Irrigated horticulture farms accounted for only 6.2 and 15.1 percent of all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Nearly 70 percent of all irrigated horticulture farms were located in the 31 Eastern States, and whether in the West or across the U.S., 71 percent of these farms were among the smallest (low-sales) farms.
    • Irrigated horticulture farms accounted for $6.9 billion in farm production value (sales) in the West and $16.5 billion for the U.S. for 2012 (just 7.2 and 12.1 percent of farm sales for all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively).
      • However, nearly 84 percent of farm production sales from irrigated horticulture farms in the West (and 77 percent for the U.S.) were from large-scale irrigated horticulture farm operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Low-sales horticulture irrigated farms accounted for less than 4 percent of irrigated horticulture farm sales in the West, and less than 6 percent across the U.S.
      • The average value of farm sales for irrigated horticulture farms was $657,576 per farm in the West, and $477,352 per farm across the U.S. However, these farm values ranged from $36,664 per farm for low-sales farms to $5,308,241 per farm for large-scale farms in the West and for the U.S.
    • Irrigated horticulture farms accounted for 3.3 and 5.8 million total farm acres in the open (AIO), just 1.9 and 2.7 percent of AIO for all irrigated farms in the West and for the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (with 78 and 61 percent of these farm AIO on large-scale operations for the two regions).
    • Irrigated horticulture farms accounted for 0.6 and 1.1 million irrigated AIO [for H & NH crops] in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (just 1.4 and 2.0 percent of all irrigated AIO for all irrigated farms in the two regions). About two-thirds of these acres were associated with large-scale irrigated horticulture farms.
    • Irrigated horticulture farms accounted for 1.2 and 1.7 million acre-feet of water applied (from all sources) to all irrigated AIO (for both H & NH crops) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for less than 2 percent of total water applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms in the two regions). Most of this water (at least 74 percent) was applied by large-scale irrigated horticulture farms.
      • These farms used 0.5 and 0.8 million acre-feet of groundwater on irrigated AIO (for both H & NH crops) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (40 and 47 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms in the two regions, but only 1.4 and 1.6 percent of all groundwater applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms in these regions). For both regions, 78 percent of this groundwater was applied on large-scale farms.
      • These farms used 74.6 and 174.3 thousand acre-feet of water from onfarm surface-water (OnFSW) sources to irrigated AIO (for both H & NH crops) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (6.0 and 10.4 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms in the two region, but only 1.1 and 1.9 percent of all OnFSW applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms in these regions). From 68 to 72 percent of this OnFSW was applied on large-scale farms in the two regions.
      • These farms used 666.7 and 718.5 thousand acre-feet of off-farm surface water (OfFSW) to irrigate AIO (for both H & NH crops) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (53.9 and 42.8 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms in the two regions, but only 2.3 percent of all OfFSW applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms in these regions). Nearly 71 percent of this OfFSW was applied on large-scale irrigated horticulture farms.
    • Irrigated horticulture crop AIO alone accounted for just 258.0 and 524.3 thousand acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [representing relatively small shares (0.6 and 0.9 percent) of total farm irrigated AIO in both regions]. Most of these acres, 76-78 percent, were irrigated on larger-irrigated horticulture farms (FS ≥ $350,000).
    • Water applied (from all sources) to only horticulture crop AIO included 445.7 thousand acre-feet in the West and 628.1 thousand acre-feet across the U.S. in 2013 (but representing only 0.6 and 0.7 percent of all water applied to all AIO in these regions). Between 76-78 percent of this water was applied on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000).
      • Groundwater applied to only horticulture crop AIO involved 240.1 and 363.5 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (53.8 and 57.8 percent of all water applied to horticulture crop AIO in the two regions).
      • OnFSW applied to only horticulture crop AIO involved just 39.7 and 88.7 thousand acre-feet of OnFSW in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (just 8.9 and 14.1 percent of all water applied to horticulture crop AIO in the two regions).
      • OfFSW applied to only horticulture crop AIO involved 166.0 and 176.3 thousand acre-feet of OfFSW in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (for 37.2 and 28.0 percent of all water applied to horticulture crop AIO in the two regions).
      • Groundwater and OfFSW took on greater importance for horticulture crop AIO in the West, while in the Eastern States, slightly greater emphasis was placed on the use of OnFSW to irrigate horticulture crop AIO.
    • Water applied (from all sources) to only horticulture under protection (HUP) included just 19.9 and 55.1 thousand acre-feet (converted from gallons reported by FRIS) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [representing just 4.3 and 8.1 percent of water applied to all irrigated horticulture crops, and only 0.03 and 0.06 percent of total (all) farm water applied (for both H & NH crops) for all irrigated farms, in the two regions]. Most water applied to HUP crops (80 percent in the West and 60 percent across the U.S.) was applied on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000).
      • Groundwater applied to HUP crops amounted to only 10.7 and 32.3 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [representing just 4.3 and 8.2 percent of total acre-feet of groundwater applied to all horticulture crops in the two regions, and only 0.03 and 0.07 percent of total acre-feet of groundwater applied to all farm irrigation (H & NH crops)].
      • OnFSW applied to HUP crops amounted to only 3.0 and 10.8 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [representing just 7.0 and 10.8 percent of total acre-feet of OnFSW applied to all horticulture crops in the two regions, and only 0.04 and 0.1 percent of total acre-feet of OnFSW applied to all farm irrigation (H & NH crops)].
      • OfFSW applied to HUP crops amounted to only 6.2 and 12.1 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [representing just 3.6 and 6.4 percent of total acre-feet of OfFSW applied to all horticulture crops in the two regions, and only 0.02 and 0.04 percent of total acre-feet of OfFSW applied to all farm irrigation (H & NH crops)].
    • Total water applied to both horticulture crops on AIO and for HUP (for all irrigated horticulture crop production alone) amounted to 465.6 and 683.2 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (representing just 0.6 and 0.8 percent of all farm irrigation water applied in the two regions). Nearly 78 percent of this water was applied on larger irrigated horticulture farms (FS ≥ $350,000).
      • Total groundwater applied to all horticulture crop irrigation (250.7 and 395.8 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively) accounted for only 0.7 and 0.8 percent of all groundwater applied to all farm crop irrigation in the two regions in 2013.
      • Total OnFSW applied to all horticulture crop irrigation (42.7 and 99.4 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively) accounted for only 0.6 and 1.1 percent of all OnFSW applied to all farm crop irrigation in the two regions in 2013.
      • Total OfFSW applied to all horticulture crop irrigation (172.3 and 188.3 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively) accounted for only 0.6 percent of all OfFSW applied to all farm crop irrigation in the two regions in 2013.

Irrigation Hired/Contract Labor Statistics for All Irrigated Horticulture Farms

  • Hired irrigation labor was used by only 21.3 and 17.0 percent of all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. These farms were fairly evenly distributed between smaller and larger farm size classes.
    • However, most hired irrigation labor hours applied to irrigated horticulture (7.1 and 12.4 million hours for the West and the U.S., respectively) was used on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000), between 70–74 percent of the total of such hours in these regions.
    • Hired irrigation labor expenses (for horticulture farms using this labor) averaged $32,373 per farm in the West and $22,897 per farm across the U.S. in 2013, but these average costs ranged from $6,314 per farm for low-sales farms to $79,416 per farm for large-scale farms across the two regions.
    • Average per hour hired irrigation labor rates for irrigated horticulture farms ranged from $10.25 in the West to $10.81 across the U.S. in 2013, and from $11.43 per hour for low-sales farms to $10 per hour for large-scale farms across the two regions.
  • Contract irrigation labor was not widely used across irrigated horticulture farms (by only 1.7 and 1.2 percent of all such farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013). In both regions, these farms were fairly evenly distributed between smaller and larger irrigated farms.
    • However, nearly 70 percent of contract irrigation labor expenditures ($9.2 and $12.1 million for the West and the U.S., respectively, in 2013) were incurred by large-scale farm operations (with 77 percent in just three States: California, Florida, and Texas).
      • These costs averaged $50,457 per farm in the West and $29,634 per farm across the U.S., but ranged from $7,434 per farm for low-sales farms to $95,719 per farm for large-scale farms across the two regions. [Hourly expense rates for contract irrigation labor for horticulture farms were unavailable.]

Characteristics for Only Horticulture Under Protection (HUP) Farms

Farms, Farm Sales, Irrigated AIO, Horticulture Under Protection (Area & Water Use)

Horticulture under protection (HUP) farms produce both horticulture and non-horticulture crops on AIO, as well as horticulture crops under protection. For FRIS, HUP crops were reported to include any irrigated nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, mushrooms, propagative materials, food crops under protection, or other horticulture crops where each were grown under glass, rigid plastic, plastic film, and including "tunnel" protection and hoop houses. FRIS measured the area for HUP crops in square-feet units, and HUP water use in gallon units. Here, HUP area units are reported in both square-feet and acre-equivalent units, and HUP applied water in both gallons and acre-feet equivalent units.

  • Irrigated HUP farms (6.2 and 24.8 thousand farms) accounted for 3.7 and 10.8 percent of all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, and of these, 79 - 83 percent were smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000), with two-thirds being low-sales irrigated farms (FS < $150,000).
    • These farms generated $4.7 and $12.1 billion in farm production sales in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for 68 and 73 percent of farm production sales for all irrigated horticulture farms in these two regions, and 4.8 and 8.8 percent of total farm production sales for all irrigated farms in the two regions, respectively). However, most HUP farm production sales were by large-scale operations, 85.4 percent in the West and 77.2 percent across the U.S.
      • Average per farm production sales for these farms ranged between $754,394 per farm in the West and $487,590 per farm across the U.S., averaging from $32.6 thousand to $5.8 million per farm between low-sales and large-scale HUP farm operations, respectively, in the West and across the U.S.
    • HUP farms accounted for nearly 1.0 and 2.6 million total farm AIO (for H & NH crops) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, but representing only 0.5 and 1.2 percent of total farm AIO on all irrigated farms in the two regions.
      • These farms also used 0.5 and 0.8 million acres of pastureland AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, representing only 0.5 and 0.7 percent of pastureland AIO on all irrigated farms in these two regions.
      • Irrigated crop AIO (for H & NH crops) on these farms included 148.8 and 357.5 thousand AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, representing just 0.4 and 0.6 percent of total farm irrigated AIO for all irrigated farms in the two regions.
      • Total water (from all sources) applied to HUP farm AIO (for H & NH crops) included 276.1 and 415.3 thousand acre-feet in the West and for the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (with 81 and 76 percent, respectively, applied by large-scale operations). However, this water represents only 0.4 and 0.5 percent of the water applied on all AIO for all irrigated farms in the two regions.
        • Groundwater accounted for 50.4 and 55.2 percent of the total acre-feet of water applied to HUP farm AIO in the West and for the U.S., respectively, with 85 and 79 percent applied on large-scale operations in the two regions, respectively.
        • OnFSW accounted for 13.0 and 18.3 percent of the total acre-feet of water applied to HUP farm AIO in the West and for the U.S., respectively, with 77 and 70 percent applied on large-scale operations in the two regions, respectively.
        • OfFSW accounted for 36.5 and 26.5 percent of the total acre-feet of water applied to HUP farm AIO in the West and for the U.S., respectively, with 85 percent applied on larger farms (FS ≥ $350,000) in both regions.
    • HUP crops were irrigated on 464.6 million and 1.4 billion square feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (the equivalent of 10,665.7 and 32,139.6 acres, respectively). About 76 percent of this area in the West and 58 percent across the U.S. occurred on large-scale HUP farm operations.
    • Total water (from all sources) applied to only square feet of HUP amounted to 6.5 billion gallons in the West and 17.6 billion gallons across the U.S. in 2013 (equivalent to 19.8 and 54.4 thousand acre-feet, respectively), with 80 percent applied on large-scale HUP farms in the West, and 60 percent across the U.S.
      • This water accounted for 4.3 and 8.0 percent of water applied to all irrigated horticulture in the West and across the U.S., respectively; and to just 0.03 and 0.06 percent of water applied to all irrigation in the two regions, respectively.
        • Groundwater applied to only square feet of HUP amounted to 3.5 billion gallons in the West and 10.5 billion gallons for the U.S. in 2013 (equivalent to 10.7 and 32.3 thousand acre-feet, respectively), with 80 and 56 percent applied on large-scale HUP farms in these regions, respectively.
          • This water accounted for 4.3 and 8.2 percent of groundwater applied to all irrigated horticulture in the West and for the U.S., respectively; and just 0.03 and 0.07 percent of groundwater applied to all irrigation in the two regions, respectively.
        • OnFSW applied to only square feet of HUP amounted to 1.0 billion gallons in the West and 3.5 billion gallons for the U.S. in 2013 (equivalent to 3.0 and 10.7 thousand acre-feet, respectively), with 82 and 63 percent applied on large-scale HUP farms in these regions, respectively.
          • This water accounted for 7.0 and 10.8 percent of OnFSW applied to all irrigated horticulture in the West and for the U.S., respectively; and just 0.04 and 0.1 percent of OnFSW applied to all irrigation in the two regions, respectively.
        • OfFSW applied to only square feet of HUP amounted to 2.0 billion gallons in the West and 3.7 billion gallons for the U.S. in 2013 (equivalent to 6.2 and 11.4 thousand acre-feet, respectively), with 80 and 66 percent applied on large-scale HUP farms in these regions, respectively.
          • This water accounted for 3.6 and 6.1 percent of OfFSW applied to all irrigated horticulture in the West and for the U.S., respectively; and just 0.02 and 0.04 percent of OfFSW applied to all irrigation in the two regions, respectively.
    • Water applied to HUP crops by major irrigation system (measured here in acre-feet equivalent units), are reported below for the West and for the U.S., respectively.
      • Hand-watering systems ─ 3.9 and 9.1 thousand acre-feet, respectively.
      • Gravity system ─ 12.0 and 148.0 acre-feet, respectively.
      • Sprinkler systems ─ 8.4 and 30.2 thousand acre-feet, respectively.
      • Drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray systems ─ 7.0 and 12.9 thousand acre-feet, respectively.
      • Sub-irrigation systems─ 449.0 and 1,635.0 acre-feet, respectively.
        • Most water applied to HUP crops occurred using sprinkler or drip/trickle/low-flow/micro-spray irrigation systems (accounting for 78-80 percent in the West and across the U.S.). While these systems are relatively the more efficient systems, it is difficult to determine relative irrigation efficiency for HUP crop production because of the aggregate nature of the available data.

Table-Specific Summaries of Results

A summary of the table findings are presented for the 2013 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey (FRIS).

Section I. Summarized Characteristics (for All Irrigated Farms)

Set 1. Aggregate Irrigated Farm Values by Farm Size (Tables 1-1 to 1-15d)

Irrigated farms (table 1-1). Most irrigated farms in 2013 were low-sales farms. Out of 229,237 and 169,436 irrigated farms (FRIS total expanded farms) across the U.S. and in the Western States, respectively, 64 and 67 percent had less than $150,000 in total farm sales for the U.S. and the Western States, respectively. About 75 to 78 percent had sales of less than $350,000 for the U.S. and the West, respectively. Less than 25 percent had farm sales greater than or equal to $350,000 across both regions, while less than 12 percent of irrigated farms across the U.S. had sales equal to or greater than $1,000,000 and less than 10 percent in the Western States. Fifteen states, each with more than 4,000 irrigated farms, accounted for 77 percent of all U.S. irrigated farms, all within the Western States except for Arkansas and Florida. For five western States: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah, low- to moderate-sales irrigated farms accounted for more than 85 percent of irrigated farms within each of these States. However, for Arkansas, Kansas, and Nebraska, the farm-size structure was more oriented towards mid-size and larger-scale irrigated farms (farms with sales equal to or greater than $350,000). While for Nebraska and Kansas irrigated farms were relatively evenly distributed across the four farm-size classes, for Arkansas, nearly 41 percent of irrigated farms had farm sales equal to or greater than $1,000,000. States with a significant share of irrigated farms at mid-size and/or large-scale operations (greater than $350,000 in farm sales) were in the southeast U.S. (Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi) and the northern Plains region (Kansas and Nebraska), where irrigated agriculture occurs with a heavier dependence on groundwater use.

Total irrigated farm sales (table 1-2). Of the $136.8 billion in 2012 farm sales for FRIS irrigated farms across the U.S., 92 percent were from mid-size and large-scale farms [with farm sales (FS) equal to or greater than $350,000], with nearly 79 percent alone coming from large-scale operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Smaller irrigated farms (including low-sales farms with sales less than $150,000 and moderate-sales farms with sales equal to or greater than $150,000 but less than $350,000) accounted for less than 8 percent of total U.S. irrigated farm sales (even while these same farms accounted for 75 percent of all U.S. irrigated farms). These distributions were also generally characteristic of most Western States. However, for a number of key irrigation States, mid-size and large-scale operations accounted for 93+ percent of all irrigated farm sales for Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and North and South Carolina in the southeast, and for Arizona, California, Kansas, Nebraska, and Washington in the West. In Montana and Wyoming, total farm sales are more uniformly distributed across the four farm-size classes. Across the U.S., the largest 12 percent of irrigated farms accounted for nearly 79 percent of 2012 sales from irrigated farms. In the West, the largest 10 percent of irrigated farms accounted for 79 percent of 2012 sales from irrigated farms. (For this FRIS data, only farm sales values were for 2012—all other FRIS statistics are for 2013.)

Total farm acres, harvested cropland and pastureland acres (tables 1-3 to 1-5). Across the U.S., for 2013, mid-size and large-scale irrigated farm operations (those with FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for nearly 72 percent of total farm acres, 83 percent of harvested cropland acres, and 65 percent of pastureland acres on irrigated farms. Similar distributions for these characteristics existed for the Western States. As expected, total farm acres tended to be more concentrated within large-scale operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000) for eastern States, including for Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where large-scale farms accounted for between 67 to 78 percent of total farm acres. For the West, the concentration rate for total farm acres for large-scale operations ranged from 23 percent (for Utah and Wyoming) to 64 percent (for Nevada). Similarly, harvested cropland acres tend also to be concentrated within large-scale operations (irrigated farms with FS ≥ $1,000,000), particularly for the larger irrigated eastern States, where the concentration rate can range from 61 to as high as 83 percent. The variability in concentration for harvested cropland acres across Western States is greater, ranging from 21 percent (for Wyoming) to 81 percent (for North Dakota). However, larger-scale operations account for on average for only about 59 percent of all cropland harvested acres on all U.S. irrigated farms, and for only about 53 percent of these acres on irrigated farms in the West. Across the U.S., irrigated farms in 2013 accounted for 112.1 million pastureland acres, with 31 percent within large-scale (FS ≥ $1,000,000) operations (30 percent for irrigated farms across the Western States). States with the largest number of pastureland acres on irrigated farms are as expected in the West, where the concentration rate for large-scale farms ranges from 23 percent (for Texas) to 74-76 percent for Nebraska and Wyoming.

Total farm irrigated acres in the open (AIO) (tables 1-6 and 1-7). Total farm irrigated acres in the open (AIO) includes acres in the open on farms for both horticulture and non-horticulture crops (but excludes the square-feet area for irrigated horticulture under protection). Larger irrigated farms account for most irrigated acres in agricultural production across the U.S. and in the Western States. For the U.S., of the 55.3 million irrigated acres in the open in 2013, nearly 82 percent are associated with mid-size and large-scale farms (FS ≥ $350,000), with 60 percent associated with the largest farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). For the Western States, 78 percent of all irrigated acres in the open are associated with mid- to large-scale farms. States with more than 75 percent of irrigated acres in large-scale farm operations are all among the Eastern States. For the Western States, large-scale farms alone (FS ≥ $1,000,000) accounted for on average 53 percent of irrigated acres in the open, but this ratio can range from as low as 20 percent for Wyoming to as high as 73 percent for North Dakota, Arizona, and California. For seven states, Colorado, Montana, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming, low- to moderate-sales farms (FS < $350,000) accounted for 43 to 57 percent of irrigated acres in the open. As expected, similar results exist for harvested irrigated cropland acres across the U.S. and for the Western States.

Farm water applied to only acres in the open (AIO) for all irrigated farms (all water sources) (table 1-8). Larger irrigated farms (including mid- to large-scale farms) accounted for the greatest share of farm water use applied to acres in the open (AIO). Farms with sales above $350,000 accounted for nearly 82 percent of the 88.5 million acre feet (maf) of farm water applied to acres in the open by 2013 FRIS irrigated farms across the U.S. For the Western States, larger farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for about 79 percent of water applied to acres in the open. For the U.S., the 12 percent of largest irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) accounted for nearly 62 percent of water applied to acres in the open, while for the West, the 10 percent of largest irrigated farms accounted for 58 percent of water applied to acres in the open. Low- and moderate-sales irrigated farms, nearly 75 and 78 percent of all irrigated farms for the U.S. and for the Western States, respectively, accounted for only 18 and 21 percent of farm water applied to acres in the open across the U.S. and the West, respectively. The share of farm water applied by larger irrigated farms is much more dramatic for eastern States than for western States. For 22 states in the eastern U.S., larger irrigated farms (FS > $350,000) account for over 80 percent of total farm water applied to acres in the open. This occurs for only six States in the West, including Arizona, California, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Washington. For these States alone, irrigated farms with sales above $350,000 (representing 15 percent of all irrigated farms in the West) account for 52 percent of farm water applied to acres in the open in the West (about 37.6 maf out of 72.9 maf). Only in five States, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia, did smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000) account for a higher percentage of farm water applied to acres in the open, ranging from 54 percent for Pennsylvania to 86 percent for West Virginia.

Farm Water Applied to Only Acres in the Open (AIO) by Water Source and Farm Size

Total groundwater applied to acres in the open (AIO) for all irrigated farms (table 1-9). While groundwater accounted for 49 and 55 percent of all farm water applied to irrigated acres in the open (AIO) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, nearly 86 and 88 percent of groundwater use was applied to AIO by mid- to large-scale irrigated farms (FS > $350,000) across these regions, respectively, with 64 and 68 percent of groundwater being applied to AIO by the largest farms (FS > $1,000,000) across these regions, respectively. For the U.S., large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) applied 32.8 maf of groundwater (out of 48.5 maf applied U.S. wide), while for the Western States, large-scale farms applied 23.1 maf of groundwater (out of 36.0 maf applied West-wide). Smaller irrigated farms across the U.S. (75 percent of all U.S. irrigated farms) and across the West (78 percent of irrigated farms in the West) accounted for only 12 and 14 percent of groundwater applied to irrigated AIO across the U.S. and the West, respectively, in 2013. In the West, it is irrigated farms within the Plains States over the Ogallala Aquifer where the largest operations (FS ≥ $350,000) account for the greater shares of groundwater applied to irrigated AIO (ranging from 78 percent for Texas to 89 and 93 percent for Nebraska and Kansas, respectively). However, because for most Eastern States groundwater serves as the primary water source for irrigated agriculture, larger farms within these States tend to account for the larger share of applied groundwater (ranging from 83 percent for irrigated farms in Ohio to 96-97 percent for irrigated farms in Arkansas and Mississippi). For much of irrigation in the Eastern States, groundwater often serves as a supplemental water supply, mitigating crop evapotranspiration stress due to lower-than-normal precipitation and/or higher temperatures that occur during critical crop-growth stages.

Total onfarm surface water applied to acres in the open (AIO) for all irrigated farms (table 1-10). Across the U.S. in 2013, irrigators applied about 9.2 maf of water to AIO drawn from onfarm surface water (OnFSW) sources (rivers, lakes, streams, etc.), accounting for 10.4 percent of total water applied to AIO across the U.S. In the West, nearly 7.0 maf of OnFSW was applied to AIO in 2013, accounting for 9.6 percent of total water applied to AIO in the West. However, nearly 76 percent of all OnFSW applied to AIO in the U.S. was applied to AIO on irrigated farms within the Western States. In addition, irrigated farms across five western States, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon account for nearly two-thirds (64.4 percent) of OnFSW applied to AIO in the West (4.5 maf out of 7.0 maf). Across the West, and across the U.S., most OnFSW applied to AIO was applied by larger irrigated farms (mid- to large-scale farms with FS ≥ $350,000). In the West, larger irrigated farms accounted for 74 percent of applied OnFSW to AIO (with shares for Arizona, California, Nebraska, and Washington the largest, ranging from 87 to 93 percent), while for the Eastern States, larger irrigated farms generally accounted for a slightly larger share of OnFSW applied to AIO (shares ranged over 85 percent for many States, but as high as 92 to 98 percent for several States, including North Carolina, Mississippi, and Arkansas).

Total off-farm surface water applied to acres in the open (AIO) for all irrigated farms (table 1-11). Most water applied to AIO from off-farm water sources was applied to AIO within the Western States, accounting for 97 percent of all off-farm water applied to AIO across the U.S. Off-farm water supplies, generally referred to as off-farm surface water (OfFSW), may include water purchased from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; a State, county, or local district; mutual, private, cooperative, or neighborhood ditches; or commercial or municipal water systems. OfFSW applied to AIO in the Western States accounted for 29.9 maf (out of 30.8 maf for the U.S.). OfFSW also accounted for about 41 percent of all water applied to AIO in the West. Whether in the West or across the U.S., much of the OfFSW applied to AIO was applied by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for about 72 percent of all OfFSW applied to AIO. In the West, however, the share of OfFSW applied to AIO varied widely between low- and moderate-sales irrigated farms (FS ≤ $350,000) and larger irrigated farms. For Arizona, California, Nebraska, and Washington, most OfFSW (84-87 percent) was applied by larger irrigated farms, but for Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, most OfFSW was applied by smaller irrigated farms (where these farms accounted for between 50 to 67 percent of OfFSW applied to AIO in the state). Among the Eastern States, Arkansas, Florida, and Louisiana account for nearly 72 percent of the OfFSW applied to AIO across the East, with 72 to 98 percent being applied to AIO on larger irrigated farms.

Farm Irrigated Acres in the Open (AIO) by Water Source and Farm Size

Acres in the open irrigated with groundwater (for all irrigated farms) (table 1-12). Across the U.S., about 37.2 million AIO were irrigated using some groundwater (67 percent of all irrigated AIO), and in the West, 24.2 million AIO were irrigated using some groundwater (61 percent of all irrigated AIO). The Western States accounted for 65 percent of all AIO irrigated with groundwater across the U.S. Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for most irrigated AIO using groundwater, accounting for nearly 88 percent of such acres across the U.S. and about 85 percent within the Western States. With the exception of Montana and Utah, groundwater irrigated AIO across the West was irrigated mostly on larger farms (FS ≥ $350,000), who generally accounted for more than 70 percent of groundwater irrigated AIO. In the East, only in a few states, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, did smaller irrigated farms (FS ≤ $350,000) account for more than 50 percent of groundwater irrigated AIO.

Acres in the open irrigated with onfarm surface water (for all irrigated farms) (table 1-13). Across the U.S., about 6.4 million AIO were irrigated using water from onfarm surface-water (OnFSW) sources, and in the West, 4.1 million AIO were irrigated with OnFSW. About 65 percent of all AIO irrigated with OnFSW across the U.S. were located in the Western States. The share of total irrigated AIO using OnFSW ranged from 10 percent in the West to 12 percent across the U.S. Most AIO using OnFSW were on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), ranging from 74 percent in the Western States to nearly 80 percent across the U.S. About 60 percent of AIO using OnFSW across the U.S. were on the largest irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). States where smaller irrigated farms (FS ≤ $350,000) accounted for a significant share of AIO irrigated with OnFSW included Colorado (64.3 percent), Utah (48.2 percent), Wyoming (42.6 percent), and New Hampshire (56.9 percent).

Acres in the open irrigated with off-farm surface water (for all irrigated farms) (table 1-14). Across the U.S., nearly 14.5 million AIO were irrigated using water from off-farm surface water (OfFSW) sources, and in the West, 13.7 million AIO were irrigated with OfFSW. About 95 percent of all AIO irrigated with OfFSW were from irrigated farms in the Western States. But, in the West, AIO irrigated using OfFSW accounted for only 34.5 percent of all AIO, and across the U.S., 26.1 percent. However, for the U.S. and across the West, larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for a significant share of AIO irrigated with OfFSW, averaging about 67-68 percent, but these shares were also smaller than equivalent shares for either groundwater or onfarm surface water irrigated acres. For the West and across the U.S., 31 to 32 percent of AIO irrigated using OfFSW were irrigated on smaller irrigated farms (FS ≤ $350,000). In the West, only in Colorado and Utah did smaller irrigated farms account for more than 50 percent of AIO irrigated with OfFSW. Among the Eastern States, AIO irrigated using OfFSW by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) were in six key States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

Total Farm Water Applied [includes water for Horticulture & Non-Horticulture Acres in the Open (AIO) and for Horticulture-Under-Protection (HUP)] by Water Source and Farm Size

Total groundwater applied (in acre-feet equivalent units) for all AIO and HUP (table 1-15a). Total groundwater applied to all AIO (for non-horticulture and horticulture crops) and to all square feet area (for horticulture crops under protection) for 2013 amounted to 36.0 maf across the Western States and 48.5 maf for the U.S. (Groundwater applied to horticulture crops under protection were initially measured in gallons across square-foot area, but converted into acre-feet equivalent units for this table.) Horticulture under protection (HUP) accounted for only about 10.7 thousand acre-feet of groundwater applied in the West [less than 1.0 percent (0.3 of 1 percent) of total groundwater applied in the West], and about 32.3 thousand acre-feet of groundwater applied across the U.S. [also less than 1.0 percent (0.07 of 1 percent) of total groundwater applied across the U.S.]. Even when accounting for horticulture under protection, larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) continue to apply the dominant share of groundwater, ranging from 86 to 88 percent across the West and for the U.S., respectively. [For information on groundwater used for only horticulture under protection (measured in gallon units) by farm-size class, see table HUP1-9a in Section III.]

Total onfarm surface water applied (in acre-feet equivalent units) for all AIO and HUP (table 1-15b). Total onfarm surface water (OnFSW) applied to all AIO (for non-horticulture and horticulture crops) and to all square-feet area (for horticulture under protection) for 2013 amounted to nearly 7.0 maf across the Western States and 9.2 maf for the U.S. (OnFSW applied to horticulture crops under protection were initially measured in gallons across square-foot area, but converted into acre-feet equivalent units for this table.) Horticulture under protection (HUP) accounted for only about 3.0 thousand acre-feet of OnFSW applied in the West [0.04 of 1 percent of total OnFSW applied in the West], and about 10.7 thousand acre-feet of OnFSW applied across the U.S. [0.12 of 1 percent of total OnFSW applied across the U.S.]. Because horticulture under protection accounts for such a small share of total agricultural OnFSW use, HUP does not alter aggregate distributional statistics for use of OnFSW. Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) continue to apply the dominant share of OnFSW, ranging from 74 to 78 percent across the West and for the U.S., respectively. [For information on OnFSW used for only horticulture under protection (measured in gallon units) by farm-size class, see table HUP1-10a in Section III.]

Total off-farm surface water applied (in acre-feet equivalent units) for all AIO and HUP (table 1-15c). Total off-farm surface water (OfFSW) applied to all AIO (for non-horticulture and horticulture crops) and to all square-feet area (for horticulture under protection) for 2013 amounted to 29.9 maf across the Western States and 30.8 maf for the U.S. (OfFSW applied to horticulture crops under protection were initially measured in gallons across square-foot area, but converted into acre-feet equivalent units for this table.) Horticulture under protection (HUP) accounted for only about 6.2 thousand acre-feet of OfFSW applied in the West [0.02 of 1 percent of total OfFSW applied in the West], and about 12.0 thousand acre-feet of OfFSW applied across the U.S. [0.04 of 1 percent of total OfFSW applied across the U.S.]. About 52 percent of OfFSW applied to horticulture crops under protection across the U.S. is applied to HUP in the Western States, with 88 percent of this applied by the larger (FS ≥ $350,000) irrigated farms. Because HUP accounts for such a small share of total agricultural OfFSW use, HUP does not alter aggregate distributional statistics for use of OfFSW. Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) continue to apply the dominant share of OfFSW, averaging about 72 percent across both Western and Eastern States. [For information on OfFSW used for only horticulture under protection (measured in gallon units), see table HUP1-11a in Section III.]

Total water applied (all sources) (in acre-feet equivalent units) for all AIO and HUP (table 1-15d). Water applied (from all sources) to all AIO (for non-horticulture and horticulture crops) and to all square-feet area (for horticulture under protection) for 2013 totaled to 72.9 maf across the Western States and 88.5 maf for the U.S. (Water applied to horticulture crops under protection were initially measured in gallons across square-foot area, but converted into acre-feet equivalent units for this table.) Horticulture under protection (HUP) accounted for only about 19.9 thousand acre-feet of water applied in the West [0.03 of 1 percent of total water applied in the West], and about 55.0 thousand acre-feet of water applied across the U.S. [0.06 of 1 percent of total water applied across the U.S.]. About 64 percent of all water applied to HUP crops across the U.S. is applied in the Eastern States. Even so, given the small shares for HUP applied water, aggregate distributional statistics are not altered. For most Western States, larger irrigated farms account for most applied irrigation water, however, for Colorado and Utah in the West, smaller irrigated farms (FS ≤ $350,000) account for a significant share of total applied irrigation water (ranging between 49 to 54 percent). Likewise, for most Eastern States, larger irrigated farms account for most applied irrigation water, however, for New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and West Virginia, smaller irrigated farms within these States account for 55 to 80 percent of applied irrigation water. [For information on total water applied for only horticulture under protection (measured in gallon units), see table HUP1-8a in Section III.]

Set 2. Weighted-Average Irrigated Farm-Size and Water-Use Statistics (Tables 2-1 to 2-10)

Value of 2012 farm sales per irrigated farm (table 2-1). Each 2013 FRIS irrigated farm observation was linked to its 2012 Census of Agriculture farm sales data. The average value of farm sales (for 2012) for all FRIS irrigated farms (non-horticulture and horticulture farms) was $574,833 per irrigated farm across the U.S. and $554,432 per irrigated farm in the West. The overall average farm sales value per irrigated farm does differ significantly across States, ranging from $164,817 for New Mexico to $1,652,199 for Kansas in the 17 western States, and from $79,128 for West Virginia to $1,190,510 for Mississippi in the eastern States. However, whether in the eastern or western States, the real story exists in average irrigated farm sales value across farm-size classes. Most irrigated farms were quite small in total farm sales value. Across the U.S. about 64 percent of irrigated farms (those with FS < $150,000) had an average total farm sales value of $29,997 per irrigated farm in 2012, while about 12 percent of irrigated farms (those with FS ≥ $1,000,000) had an average total farm sales value of $3.8 million per irrigated farm. For about 75 percent of irrigated farms (those with FS < $350,000) their farm sales were equal to or less than $234,905 per irrigated farm, while the average farm sales for the remaining 25 percent ranged from nearly $0.6 million to $3.8 million per irrigated farm. These irrigated farm-size differences are slightly more dramatic across the western States, with average farm sales ranging from $27,767 per irrigated farm for low-sales farms to nearly $4.41 million per irrigated farm for large-scale farms. By State, for low-sales farms (FS < $150,000), average sales per irrigated farm ranged from $13,317 for New Mexico to $69,107 for Nebraska. For large-scale farms (FS > $1,000,000), average 2012 farm sales ranged from $1.97 million for Missouri to $8.3 million for Maine, $7.8 million for Oklahoma, $6.3 for Hawaii, $6.1 million for Arizona, and $5.2 million for California.

Total farm acres per irrigated farm (table 2-2). Across the U.S., average total farm acres were 934 acres per irrigated farm [for non-horticulture and horticulture acres in the open (AIO)], while averaging 1,062 acres per irrigated farm in the 17 Western States. However, average farm size differed significantly across farm-size class. Across the U.S. average farm size ranged from 227 acres for low-sales farms to 3,343 acres for large-scale irrigated farm operations, while these farm-size averages ranged from 273 to 4,054 acres in the western States. Farm size for low-sales irrigated farms ranged from 17 acres for Connecticut to 617 acres for Wyoming; while for large-scale operations, farm size ranged from 390 acres for Connecticut to 27,626 acres for Wyoming. Clearly, farm size for large-scale irrigated farms are influenced by privately owned/leased pastureland and grazing lands for livestock operations, particularly in the western States. (The numbers do, however, exclude lands leased under a government grazing permit.)

Total irrigated acres per irrigated farm (table 2-3). Farm-level irrigated acreage averaged 241 acres per irrigated farm across the U.S. (for irrigated AIO on non-horticulture and horticulture farms), and 235 acres per irrigated farm for the Western States. Irrigated AIO averaged from 35 and 41 acres per irrigated farm for low-sales farms across the U.S. and the Western States, respectively, and from 1,210 and 1,273 acres per irrigated farm for large-scale operations across these regions, respectively. Because statistics for farm irrigated acres removes the "rangeland" influence, the farm-size variability for average irrigated acres across States is more meaningful. First, across all farms, average irrigated acres per farm ranged from a low of 4 acres in Vermont to a high of 1,175 acres in Arkansas. For low-sales irrigated farms, average irrigated acres per farm ranged from just 2-3 acres for Alaska and a number of eastern States (including Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia), to 87 acres per farm for Montana and 104 acres per farm for Wyoming. For large-scale irrigated farms, average irrigated acres per farm ranged from 53 acres for Pennsylvania to 2,320 acres for Arkansas. In the 17 western States, average irrigated acres per farm for large-scale farms ranged from 628 acres for Utah to 2,238 for Nevada.

Total harvested cropland acres per irrigated farm (table 2-4). Total harvested cropland (irrigated and dryland) averaged 343 acres on irrigated farms across the U.S. and 314 acres across the 17 Western States in 2013, ranging from 39 acres for the smallest irrigated farms to 1,722 acres for the largest irrigated farms across the U.S. and from 42 to 1,683 acres for these farm-size classes for the Western States. By State, across all irrigated farms, total harvested cropland in 2013 ranged from 13 acres per irrigated farm in the northeast States of Rhode Island and Vermont, to 1,472 acres and 1,786 acres per irrigated farm in Kansas and North Dakota, respectively. For all low-sales irrigated farms, total harvested cropland ranged from 4-6 acres per irrigated farm in Hawaii, Alaska, and several eastern States (Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) to 184 acres per irrigated farm in Kansas. For large-scale irrigated farms, average total harvested cropland ranged from 109-111 acres per irrigated farm in Connecticut and Massachusetts to 2,980 and 3,285 acres in Montana and North Dakota, respectively.

Weighted Average Irrigated Acres by Water Source and Farm Size

Groundwater irrigated acres per irrigated farm using groundwater (table 2-5). Acres in the open (AIO) irrigated with groundwater averaged 322 acres per farm for the U.S. and 307 acres per farm for the 17 Western States in 2013. These per farm acres varied significantly across farm-size classes, ranging from 33 acres for low-sales farms to 1,165 acres for large-scale farms for the U.S., and from 39 to 1,134 acres for these farm-size classes for the western States. Significant variability also exists across States, with average acres irrigated with groundwater ranging from 2-7 acres per farm in such northeast States as Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, to 1,100-1,200 acres per farm in Mississippi and Arkansas. For low-sales farms, average AIO acres irrigated with groundwater ranged from 2-8 acres per farm across most eastern States and up to 90-97 acres per farm in Arkansas, Kansas, Wyoming, and Texas. For large-scale farms, the average ranged from 33 acres per farm in Pennsylvania to 2,127 and 2,194 acres per farm in Mississippi and Arkansas, respectively. For large-scale farms in the West, the average acres irrigated with groundwater ranged from 568 acres per farm in Oregon to 1,976 acres per farm in Nevada. For all the West, the average AIO acres irrigated with groundwater is generally higher for the larger farm-size classes than for surface-water irrigated AIO acres. This difference likely reflects differences in economic efficiency requirements across water sources—groundwater irrigation is generally more expensive.

Acres irrigated using onfarm surface water per irrigated farm using onfarm surface water (table 2-6). For all States, farm acres in the open (AIO) irrigated with onfarm surface water (OnFSW) averaged 186 acres per farm in 2013, ranging from 33 acres for low-sales farms to 563 acres for large-scale farms. For the 17 western States, an average of 200 acres per farm were irrigated with OnFSW in 2013, ranging from 42 acres for low-sales farms to 697 acres per farm for the largest farms. Again, significant variability exists across States. For all farms by State, the average AIO irrigated with OnFSW ranged from less than 20 acres per farm in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and West Virginia, to 534 acres per farm in Arkansas. Across the Western States, average AIO irrigated with OnFSW for all farms ranged from 67 acres per farm in Kansas to 387 acres in Nevada. For low-sales farms alone, the average AIO irrigated with OnFSW ranged from less than 10 acres per farm to a high of 98 acres per farm for Colorado and Wyoming. For large-scale operations, average AIO irrigated with OnFSW ranged from 93-100 acres per farm in Pennsylvania and Connecticut to a high of 2,423 acres per farm in Arizona. Across most States, the average acres irrigated per farm using OnFSW is less than the corresponding average acres irrigated per farm using groundwater. However, for several States, average acres irrigated with onfarm surface water (across all farms) are higher than average acres irrigated with groundwater. For these States — mostly in the West (Arizona, California, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming) — this difference in average farm size between groundwater and onfarm surface-water irrigated acres likely reflects a greater dependence in these States on onfarm surface-water use for flood irrigation of hay/pastureland and/or other lower-valued crops.

Acres irrigated using off-farm surface water per irrigated farm using off-farm surface water (table 2-7). Average acres in the open (AIO) irrigated using water from off-farm water suppliers (publicly supplied water) was 150 acres per farm across the U.S. in 2013, and 152 acres per farm in the West. These average size statistics were also very similar by farm-size class between farms in the West and across the U.S., ranging from 38-40 acres per farm for the low-sales farms to 937-941 acres per farm for large-scale farms, for the two regions, respectively. Average AIO irrigated with off-farm surface water (OfFSW) varied widely across States in 2013, ranging from less than 10 acres per farm for several eastern States (Connecticut, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia) to as high as 1,042 acres per farm for Florida in the East and 306 acres per farm for North Dakota in the West. For low-sales farms alone, across the eastern States, information on the AIO irrigated with OfFSW was either a "disclosure" issue (too few farms reporting) or averaged less than 70 acres per farm. For low-sales farms across the western States, average AIO irrigated with OfFSW ranged from less than 5 acres per farm in Kansas to 100-105 acres per farm in Montana and Wyoming. For large-scale farms, average AIO irrigated with OfFSW ranged from 72 acres per farm for Pennsylvania to over 6,000 acres per farm in Florida in the East, and in the West, from 398 acres per farm for North Dakota to 1,925 acres per farm in Arizona. In addition, here, for the U.S. and the West, average AIO acres per farm irrigated with OfFSW among low-sales farms is nearly equivalent to similar averages for either groundwater or OnFSW irrigated acres. But, at the same time, for both regions, average acres per farm using OfFSW for large-scale farms is greater than the equivalent average for acres irrigated with OnFSW and near equivalent to the average for acres irrigated with groundwater. These results appear to suggest that greater dependence on more expensive water (pumped groundwater or purchased off-farm water) likely promotes increased size for irrigated farms.

Weighted-Average Water-Use Statistics, Total and by Water Source by Farm Size

Total farm water applied per irrigated farm (table 2-8). Total water applied to AIO averaged 430 and 386 acre-feet per farm for irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, but ranging from 73 and 59 acre-feet per farm for low-sales farms in the two regions to 2,521 and 1,995 acre-feet per farm for large-scale farms in the two regions, respectively. For all irrigated farms in the West, total average applied water ranged from 150 acre-feet per farm in New Mexico to 858 acre-feet per farm in Arizona. In the eastern States, variability in farm-level applied water was much greater, ranging from a few (2-3) acre-feet to 1,532 acre-feet per farm in Arkansas. The highest average applied water for low-sales farms occurred in Nevada, averaging 199 acre-feet per farm, while the highest average applied water for large-scale farms occurred in Arkansas, averaging 9,052 acre-feet per farm (reflecting the greater degree of extensive-margin irrigation/water-use typical of larger irrigated farms).

Irrigation application rates (acre feet/acre)—for harvested and total irrigated acres (tables 2-9 and 2-10). Water applied rates per harvested irrigated acre are consistently generally slightly higher than water applied rates per irrigated acre by region. Per harvested irrigated acre, water application rates averaged 1.9 and 1.6 acre-feet per acre in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, while averaging 1.7 and 1.4 acre-feet per acre for all irrigated acres in the two regions, respectively.

Large-scale irrigated farms tended to be the more intensive-margin irrigation operations―that is, their average water application rates (acre-feet per acre) tend to be slightly greater, particularly in the West, averaging 1.9 acre-feet per irrigated acre for large-scale farms and 1.6 acre-feet per irrigated acre for low-sales farms. Application rates for low-sales farms in the West ranged from 0.8 acre-feet per irrigated acre in North Dakota to 2.5 acre-feet per irrigated acre in Arizona. In the eastern States, application rates for low-sales farms generally ranged from 0.5 to less than 1.0 acre-feet per irrigated acre. For large-scale farms in the West, application rates ranged from 0.7 acre-feet per irrigated acre for North and South Dakota to as much as 4.6 acre-feet per irrigated acre in Arizona. But in the East, application rates for large-scale farms ranged from 0.4 across multiple States to 1.3 acre-feet per irrigated acres in Arkansas and Louisiana. Clearly, the more intensive-margin irrigation operations are among large-scale farms within the western States.

Set 3. Average Irrigation Statistics (by Water Source) and Purchased Water Costs by Farm Size (Tables 3-1 to 3-14)

Weighted Average Statistics (by Water Source) (tables 3-1 to 3-9). Across the U.S. and in the West, intensive-margin water use tends to be greater for surface-water irrigation (particularly for water applied from off-farm sources). The application rates for groundwater averaged 1.3 and 1.4 acre-feet per acre across the U.S. and in the West, respectively, for farms using groundwater on AIO in 2013 (table 3-2), but ranged from 1.5 acre-feet per acre for low-sales farms to 1.6 acre-feet per acre for large-scale farms in the West, and averaged about 1.3 acre-feet per acre across farm-size classes for the U.S. The application rates for off-farm surface water averaged 1.7 and 1.8 acre-feet per acre across the U.S. and in the West, respectively, for farms using off-farm surface water on AIO in 2013 (table 3-8), but ranged from 1.6 acre-feet per acre for low-sales farms to 2.1 - 2.2 acre-feet per acre for large-scale farms in the West and across the U.S. Regional average application rates for onfarm surface water (table 3-5) generally fall between the rates for groundwater and for off-farm surface water. So, barring consideration of crops irrigated (and all other factors), FRIS intensive-margin water-use statistics suggest that groundwater could be more efficiently applied than irrigation using surface-water sources. This is understandable, given that groundwater is generally the higher cost irrigation alternative.

Farms using off-farm supplied water and purchased water costs ($/acre, $/acre foot, and $/farm) (tables 3-10 to 3-14). Only 32 percent of all irrigated farms in the U.S. (73,414 out of 229,237 farms) reported purchased water costs for off-farm water supplies in 2013. Nearly 90 percent of these irrigated farms were in the western States, where 39 percent of irrigated farms made use of publicly-supplied off-farm surface water (66,070 out of 169,436 irrigated farms) (table 3-10). Most irrigated farms using off-farm surface water (OfFSW) were low-sales farms (about 75 percent in the West and across the U.S.). Also, nearly 75 percent of the irrigated farms using OfFSW were located in five western States (California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Washington).

Farms in the West using OfFSW supplies paid purchased water costs totaling $741.9 million in 2013, with 68.2 percent of these costs paid for by large-scale irrigated farms (table 3-11). Low-sales irrigated farms accounted for only 13.8 percent of total purchased water costs for OfFSW used in the West in 2013. The five States accounting for the larger purchased water costs, however, included California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (due to higher per acre-foot costs for OfFSW in Arizona and Oregon than in Colorado and Utah).

Costs for publicly-supplied water averaged about $73.52 per acre (or $31.30 per acre-foot) across the West in 2013 [and $74.62 per acre (or $32.95 per acre-foot) across the U.S.] (tables 3-12 and 3-13). This average ranged, in the West, from $36.34 per acre ($17.96 per acre-foot) for moderate-sales irrigated farms to $98.92 per acre (or $39.86 per acre-foot) for large-scale irrigated farms. These expense rates were only slightly higher for OfFSW costs in the eastern States. States range widely in their purchased water costs, both in total and by size of farm. In addition, because of differences in applied water rates, the range of values for purchased water cost per acre differs from costs per acre-foot across States. In the West, average purchased water costs (for all farm sizes) ranged from $7.47 - $13.89 per acre (or $9 - $11 per acre-foot) for Oklahoma and Montana, respectively, to $133 per acre (or $29 - $46 per acre-foot) for Arizona and California in 2013. These average water costs varied much more widely across the eastern States, ranging from a low of $8.85 per acre for Minnesota to $819.17 per acre for Rhode Island. For all low-sales irrigated farms, average purchased water costs in 2013 ranged from $15.66 per acre for Montana to $513 per acre for Arkansas and $704 per acre for Hawaii. For all large-scale irrigated farms, purchased water costs in 2013 ranged from $12 per acre for Montana and Wyoming to $356 per acre for Hawaii.

Set 4. Irrigation Wells and Pump (Energy) Cost Statistics by Farm Size (Tables 4-1a to 4-7c)

Irrigation wells/pumps used and energy (pumping) costs―total and by energy source (total $ and $ per acre) (tables 4-1a to 4-7c). Field-level irrigation water is generally delivered and/or applied using either a gravity-based or pressurized irrigation system (which uses a pump). Water originating from a well also involves water delivery/application under pressure. Pumping water from a surface water source or from a well incurs pumping costs which vary based on a variety of factors such as the distance required to lift the water (pumping head), system pressure, and by the energy source used to power the pump (electric, natural gas, diesel fuel, gasoline, use of LP gas, propane, butane, or solar).

Wells/pumps and costs (for all energy sources). Across the U.S. for 2013, nearly 68 percent of irrigated farms (154,890 out of 229,237) pumped water from wells and/or a surface water source. However, in the West, only 62 percent (104,730 out of 169,439) of irrigated farms did so, even though 66 percent of all U.S. wells/pumps (400,244 out of 603,579) were located in the western States. The larger share of wells/pumps being used to deliver or pressurize irrigation systems during 2013 were operated by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for 65 to 68 percent of all wells and pumps across the West and for the U.S., respectively (table 4-1c). The largest irrigated farms alone (FS ≥ $1,000,000) accounted for 41 and 46 percent of wells/pumps used across the West and the U.S., respectively. Irrigation in four states, Arkansas, California, Nebraska, and Texas dominated the use of wells and pump systems, accounting for 63 percent of all wells/pumps across the West and 51 percent across the U.S.

In 2013, irrigated farms across the U.S. incurred $2.7 billion in costs to pump water from wells and/or surface-water sources [irrigating crops on acres in-the-open (AIO) by both horticulture and non-horticulture farms, as well as crops by horticulture under protection (HUP)], with $2.1 billion (80.4 percent) associated with irrigated agriculture in the western States (table 4-1d). Across the West and for the U.S., large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) incurred the larger share of these pumping costs (63 and 65 percent, respectively). Six States accounted for over 70 percent of total pumping costs across the U.S. (Arkansas, California, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas), with the five western States accounting for 64.1 percent of the U.S. total cost and 79.7 percent of pumping costs across the West for 2013.

Per farm, irrigation pumping costs (across all energy sources, except solar) averaged $17,866 across the U.S. and $20,710 for irrigated farms in the West for 2013. However, significant variability exists across farm-size, varying from $2,263 per farm for low-sales farms (FS ≤ $150,000) to as high as $71,023 per farm for large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) across the U.S. For the western States, pumping costs ranged from $2,767 per farm for low-sales farms to $91,769 per farm for large-scale operations. These cost differences probably reflect differences in the scale of water-quantity pumped and likely differences in pumping depths (with larger quantities pumped expected to more seriously impact aquifer pumping depths). For the six States dominating irrigation pumping (identified above), these costs ranged from $23,902 per farm in California to $33,546 per farm in Kansas and $40,659 per farm in Arkansas. In addition, among these States, significant variability also exists in per farm pumping costs across farm-size classes, varying from $2,558 per farm in Idaho to $5,939 per farm in Texas for low-sales farms, and from $65,180 per farm in Nebraska to $135,474 per farm in Idaho for large-scale farms.

Per acre, irrigation pumping costs (across all energy sources, except solar) averaged $90.89 across the U.S. and $100.53 for irrigated farms in the West for 2013 (table 4-1b). For the six States dominating irrigation pumping (identified above), these costs varied significantly, from $35.28 per acre in Arkansas, to $58.55 per acre in Nebraska, to $50.85 per acre in Kansas, to $75.18 per acre in Idaho, to $97.34 per acre in Texas, to $200.50 per acre in California. Across the U.S., irrigation pumping costs per acre were lowest for larger irrigated farms [ranging from $57.32 per acre for mid-size farms (FS ≥ $350,000, but < $1,000,000) to $59.18 per acre for large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000)] and highest for the smaller (low-sales) irrigated farms (at $115.94 per acre). For irrigated farms in the West, pumping costs per acre were $127.21 per acre for smaller (low-sales) farms, and $71.14 per acre for large-scale farms.

Electric powered wells/pumps were, by a significant margin, the dominant power source for irrigation wells and pumps across the U.S. and for the western States in 2013. Eighty seven and 84 percent of farms using irrigation wells and pumps across the U.S. and the West, respectively, powered them using electricity, which also accounted for 71 and 78 percent of all wells and pumps across the U.S. and the West, respectively. It cost farms across the U.S. and the West using electric wells/pumps $1.8 and $1.6 billion in irrigation pumping costs in 2013 (table 4-2d), accounting for 75 and 69 percent of all pumping cost expenditures for the U.S. and the West, respectively. Sixty four and 62 percent of all wells/pumps powered with electricity across the U.S. and the West, respectively, were on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) (table 4-2c), which also accounted for nearly 85 percent of pumping costs associated with using electricity across the U.S. or the western States, respectively. Farms with wells/pumps powered by electricity incurred an average cost of $95.84 per acre across the U.S. and $101.31 per acre across the West. Costs per acre were higher for low-sales farms, ranging from $121 to $125 per acre across the U.S. and in the West, than they were for large-scale farms, which ranged from $62 across the U.S. to $75 per acre in the West. Average pumping costs for farms with wells/pumps powered with electricity varied widely across States, ranging from about $28 per acre for Montana, North and South Dakota, to as high as $175 per acre for Massachusetts and $185 per acre in California.

Wells/pumps powered with natural gas were used on a relatively small number of irrigated farms, accounting for only 5.2 percent of farms using wells/pumps across the U.S. and 7.3 percent across the West in 2013 (table 4-3a). For the U.S. and the West, however, most farms using this energy source were larger-sized farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for nearly 70 percent of farms using natural gas to power wells and pumps. Only 7.7 and 5.4 percent of all wells/pumps across the U.S. and the West, respectively, were powered by natural gas, and nearly 87 percent were used by larger-sized farms (table 4-3c). These farms spent a total of $221.9 million in pumping costs in 2013 across the U.S. (just 8.3 percent of total U.S. pumping expenditures), with $218.2 million spent for natural gas powered irrigation pumping in the western States (just 10 percent of total pumping expenditures in the West) (table 4-3d). Most natural gas based pumping expenditures occurred in the western States, accounting for 98.3 percent of these costs across the U.S. Eighty seven percent of these costs in the West occurred in just three States, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas. For both the U.S. and the western States, nearly 61 percent of natural gas based pumping costs were incurred by the largest-scale farm operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Farms with wells/pumps powered by natural gas incurred an average cost of $61 to $63 per acre across the U.S. and in the West, respectively, ranging from $37 to $39 per acre for low-sales farms to $55 to $58 per acre for large-scale farms for these regions, respectively (table 4-3b). For the three States accounting for the largest share of natural gas-based pumping expenditures in 2013, average costs varied from $33.61 per acre for Nebraska, to $59.84 per acre for Kansas, to $68.07 per acre for Texas.

Wells/pumps powered using LP gas, propane, or butane accounted for only 2.2 percent of all irrigation wells/pumps across the U.S., as well as for the western States in 2013 (13,444 out of 603,579 wells/pumps for the U.S. and 8,850 out of 400,244 in the West). Only 4 to 5 percent of farms using wells/pumps for irrigation across the U.S. and in the West made use of LP gas, propane, or butane as an energy source (4,757 farms in the West and 6,204 farms across the U.S.) (table 4-4a). Both farms and the number of wells/pumps using this energy source were relatively evenly distributed between smaller-sized farms (FS < $350,000) and larger-sized farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Farms using this energy source accounted for $28.7 million and $38.2 million in irrigation pumping costs in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (table 4-4d) (accounting for less than 1.5 percent of total pumping costs across all energy sources for either region). Larger farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for 62 and 68 percent these pumping expenditures for the West and the U.S., respectively. Irrigation in Nebraska accounted for 78 percent of all pumping expenditures for this energy source in the western States and nearly 60 percent for the U.S. Pumping costs for this energy source averaged $66.24 per acre in the West and $67.57 per acre across the U.S. (table 4-4b) Pumping costs for low-sales farms (FS < $150,000) using this energy source averaged between $97.55 to $112.82 per acre across the West and the U.S., respectively. However, large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) averaged $50.12 to $44.89 per acre for this energy source across these regions. For Nebraska, the dominate location for irrigated farms using this energy source to power wells/pumps, pumping costs for this energy source averaged $43.80 per acre.

Wells/pumps powered using diesel and biodiesel fuels accounted for 20.3 percent of all irrigation wells/pumps across the U.S. (122,704 out of 603,579) and 11.2 percent of wells/pumps in the West (44,645 out of 400,244) in 2013 (table 4-5c). Diesel and biodiesel fuel powered wells/pumps were used on 21 and 16 percent of irrigated farms using wells/pumps across the U.S. and for the West, respectively (table 4-5a). The four leading States for this energy source included Arkansas, California, Florida, and Nebraska, accounting for 49 percent of the farms and 58 percent of the wells/pumps across the U.S. using this energy source. Larger-irrigated farms (those with FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for the largest share of both farms and wells/pumps using this energy source, 58 to 61 percent of farms and 73 to 81 percent of wells/pumps using this energy source in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Nebraska accounted for the largest share of wells/pumps powered using diesel and biodiesel fuels, 18 percent of such wells/pumps across the U.S. and 49 percent of such wells/pumps in the West. Irrigation pumping costs associated with this energy source amounted to $554.0 million across the U.S., but $285.4 million across the West for 2013 (table 4-5d) (20.7 and 13.3 percent of total pumping costs across the U.S. and the West, respectively). Nearly 85 percent of these costs in the West and 88 percent for the U.S. were incurred by the larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Pumping costs for this energy source averaged $108.70 per acre in the West and $89.38 per acre across the U.S. (table 4-5b). These costs ranged from $182 to $235 per acre for smaller (low-sales) irrigated farms (for the U.S. and the West, respectively) to $64 to $75 per acre for large-scale farm operations (for the U.S. and the West, respectively). Pumping costs based on the use of diesel and biodiesel fuels varied significantly across the four primary States using this energy source ($47.38 per acre for Arkansas, $133.61 per acre for Florida, $64.77 per acre for Nebraska, and $279.99 per acre for California).

Wells/pumps powered using gasoline and blends were a very small share of all irrigation wells/pumps, accounting for less than 1 percent (2,038 out of 400,244) in the western States and only 1.2 percent (7,221 out of 603,579) across the U.S. in 2013 (table 4-6c). Only 1.3 percent of irrigated farms using wells/pumps in the West (3.1 percent across the U.S.) used gasoline and its blends to power their wells and pumps (table 4-6a). However, different from other energy sources, most of the wells/pumps powered with gasoline and its blends were associated with the smallest (low-sales) irrigated farms (80.3 percent in the West and 70.4 percent across the U.S.). The largest share of irrigated acres on which wells/pumps being powered with gasoline and its blends are located in Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and New Mexico (accounting for 53 percent of such acres across the U.S.). Arkansas has the larger share (33 percent) of such acres across the U.S. This energy source accounts for less than 1 percent of total pumping expenditures for either the U.S. or the West (only $6.3 million for the U.S. and $2.5 million for the West) (table 4-6d). However, while most of the wells/pumps using this energy source are on low-sales irrigated farms, the larger share (59 to 62 percent) of pumping expenditures for this energy source are incurred by the larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) across the U.S. and in the West, respectively. In 2013, pumping costs using this energy source averaged $88.24 per acre across the U.S. and $59.23 per acre in the West (table 4-6b). These costs ranged from $58 and $86 per acre in the West and across the U.S., respectively, for low-sales irrigated farms to $171 and $87 per acre in these regions, respectively, for large-scale farm operations. For Arkansas and Nebraska, the States accounting for 48 percent of U.S. pumping expenditures for this energy source, pumping costs ranged from $29.12 per acre for Arkansas to $66.90 per acre for Nebraska.

Wells/pumps powered using solar accounted for less than 1 percent of all wells/pumps powered with an energy source, across the U.S. (0.3 percent) and in the West (0.4 percent) for 2013 (table 4-7c). In both areas, only about 1 percent of irrigated farms using wells/pumps made use of solar energy as an irrigation power source (table 4-7a). A significant share of these farms, 85 percent, are low-sales farms, accounting for about 81 percent of the wells/pumps using solar as a power source. Arizona, California, and Colorado, are the leading States making use of solar as an irrigation power source, accounting for 86 percent of all wells/pumps powered with solar in the West and 61 percent across the U.S. California alone accounts for nearly 50 percent of the solar powered wells/pumps in the West. [Note: FRIS 2013 did not provide information on pumping costs for solar powered irrigation.]

Set 5. Scheduled Irrigation Replacement and Maintenance & Repair Cost Statistics (Tables 5-1 to 5-4f)

Scheduled irrigation replacement and maintenance and repair expenses (SR&MRE), total and by irrigation investment type (total $, $ per affected irrigated acre, and $ per farm) (tables 5-1 to table 5-4f). For 2013, irrigated farms across the U.S. spent nearly $1.2 billion for irrigation SR&MRE (nearly $852 million in the western States). [Note: For the 2013 FRIS, irrigation maintenance and repair expenses were reported together with scheduled irrigation replacement expense because of producer difficulty in separating these estimates. As a result, these statistics are not directly comparable to previous FRIS reported estimates of irrigation maintenance and repair expenses.] Nearly 68 percent of irrigation SR&MRE expenses across the West and 52 percent across the U.S. were incurred by irrigators in four States (California, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas). California and Nebraska accounted for 45 percent of these expenses across the West alone. Only about 27 percent of all irrigated farms in the West or across the U.S. reported incurring such expenses, with 71 to 73 percent of these farms being the smaller, low- to moderate-sales farms, across the U.S. and the West, respectively. However, nearly 80 percent of the expenditures for these irrigation costs were incurred by the larger, mid-size to large-scale irrigated farms. The average irrigation SR&MRE expense was $18,227 and $17,765 per farm for irrigation in the West and across the U.S., respectively. This average cost ranged from nearly $3,340 and $3,400 per farm for low-sales irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, to as high as $68,250 and $77,640 per farm for large-scale operations across the U.S. and in the West, respectively. The more significant share, from 73 percent ($618.6 million) to 75 percent ($832.1 million) of total irrigation SR&MRE expenses for the West and the U.S., respectively, were associated with the use of onfarm irrigation equipment and machinery (including sprinklers, pipes, siphons, nozzles, pumps, engines, motors, and filtration equipment). Nearly 80 percent of these 2013 expenses were incurred by larger-irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). SR&MRE expenses for irrigation wells in 2013 (including costs for drilling, the well casing, and for well installation preparation) amounted to about $177.9 and $154.8 million for the U.S. and the West, respectively, accounting for from 16.0 to 18.2 percent, respectively, of the total expenses for SR&MRE. Nearly 85 percent of these expenses were incurred by the larger-irrigated farms. SR&MRE expenses for onfarm water storage and distribution systems ranged from $24.0 to $35.4 million across the West and the U.S., respectively (amounting to 2.8 and 3.2 percent of the totals of such costs for these regions, respectively). For this particular expense, however, larger-scale operations accounted for only 47 to 53 percent of these expenses across the West and the U.S., respectively. SR&MRE expenses for computer equipment and software (including PCs, control panels, computer-controlled valves, software, and software-controlled hardware for irrigation water management) amounted to $18.6 and $22.4 million in 2013 for the West and the U.S., respectively (about 2.2 and 2.0 percent of the total of such costs for these regions, respectively). Eighty-two to 84 percent of these expenses were paid for by larger-irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). For 2013, only about 4.1 percent of total SR&MRE expenses for the West or the U.S. (amounting to $35.2 and $46.0 million, respectively) were associated with land-leveling of existing irrigated acres (with 50 to 57 percent of these expenses incurred by large-scale farms). [Note: FRIS did not report irrigation maintenance and repair expenses for the clearing or leveling of non-irrigated land (expenditures for this activity were assumed to be investment costs for new irrigation expansion).]

Scheduled replacement and irrigation maintenance and repair expenses (across all investment categories) averaged $80.32 per acre in the West and $87.67 per acre across the U.S. in 2013. Per acre, these expenses were much smaller for low-sales farms in the West ($48.73) than they were for large-scale farms in the West ($82.03). But, for all irrigated farms across the U.S., these expenses were higher ($94.46 per acre) for low-sales farms and about the same for large-scale farms ($85 per acre) than they were for similar irrigated farms in the West. Varying significantly across States, these expenses ranged, in the West, from $20 per acre in Montana to $139 per acre in Kansas and South Dakota, and in the eastern States, from $28 per acre in Mississippi to $521-$599 per acre in Delaware and Massachusetts, to as high as $1,722 per acre in South Carolina. On a per acre-foot applied basis, these expenses ranged from $37.12 per acre-foot in the West to $49.87 per acre-foot across the U.S. Differences in these expenses across farm-size classes (per acre-foot) were less dramatic, ranging in the West from $24.22 per acre-foot for low-sales farms to $36.43 per acre-foot for large-scale farms, and across the U.S. from $51.99 per acre-foot for low-sales farms to $46.88 per acre-foot for large-scale farms.

Irrigation Technologies for Acres-in-the-Open (AIO) by System Type by Farm Size (Tables 6-1 to 6-15 for Gravity Systems; Tables 7-1 to 7-17 for Pressure-Sprinkler Systems (including AIO associated with the use of Drip/Trickle and Low-Flow/Micro-Spray Systems)

This section discusses farm numbers and acres irrigated using gravity and pressure-sprinkler onfarm irrigation application technologies. For acres-in-the-open (AIO), the 2013 FRIS identifies acres irrigated for three broad irrigation system/technology categories: gravity-based systems, sprinkler systems, and drip/trickle and low-flow or micro-spray systems. [FRIS also identifies AIO irrigated with the use of precision-leveled or zero-graded (laser-leveled) irrigation, however, these AIO are discussed under Item 10 below.]

Gravity irrigation technology can be subdivided into four field water-application systems: water applied through furrow-gravity application, between borders or within basins, uncontrolled flooding (generally on rangeland or pastureland), and "other" gravity systems. In addition, gravity-based field-application systems can be characterized by multiple field-level water-conveyance (delivery) methods: lined or unlined open-surface ditch delivery, underground pipe delivery, above-ground pipe (including gated-pipe) delivery, and poly-pipe or other single-year, lay-flat tubing used for field water delivery. FRIS also identifies gravity-based irrigated acres that have been precision-leveled or zero-graded (often referred to as "laser-leveled acres"). Laser-leveled irrigation involves grading and earthmoving to eliminate variation in field gradient using a laser-guided system. Laser-leveling land helps control water advance through the field and improves uniformity of water distribution. [Note: subirrigation systems were identified in earlier FRIS reports, but for 2013, subirrigation was integrated under "other gravity systems." Subirrigation technology involves the use of a water delivery or more appropriately a drainage system designed to maintain the aquifer water table at a predetermined depth (within the crop root zone).]

Pressure-Sprinkler irrigation technology includes both sprinkler irrigation systems as well as drip/trickle and low-flow or micro-spray irrigation systems. Sprinkler irrigation technology can be subdivided across low-, medium-, and high-pressure sprinkler irrigation for center-pivot, linear-move, and solid set or permanent-set systems. Additionally, pressure-sprinkler systems can include mechanical-move systems that may consist of side-roll, wheel-move, or "other" mechanical-move systems, or big gun or traveler systems, and also hand-move or "other" sprinkler systems. Low-pressure sprinkler systems operate with an average water pressure under 30 pounds per square inch (PSI), while medium-pressure systems range from 30 to 59 PSI and high-pressure systems rate 60 PSI or greater. Very-low pressure-sprinkler systems generally operate below 15 PSI. (In FRIS, mechanical- and hand-move systems and "other" sprinkler systems are not reported by pressure category.)

Drip/trickle and low-flow or micro-spray irrigation technology includes surface and subsurface drip, and low-flow or micro-sprinkler/spray systems. For these systems, pressure can range from 5 to 30 PSI, depending upon such factors as field size, required number of emitters, and the desired flow rate.

For a more detailed explanation of individual irrigation technologies, see the ERS Irrigation Glossary.

In the following discussion of irrigation technologies, FRIS data indicates that a different distributional story exists when looking at the number of farms using particular irrigation technologies versus the irrigated acres (AIO) associated with these technologies. Across all technology types (whether for sprinkler, gravity, or drip/trickle/micro systems), low to moderate-sales farms (FS < $350,000) dominate in the total number of farms for each technology class across the West and across the U.S, with low-sales farms (FS < $150,000) accounting for most of these farms (tables 6-1, 7-1, 7-11). This should not come as a surprise, since most irrigated farms are small farms. Low to moderate-sales irrigated farms represent about 70 percent of all irrigated farms in the Western States using a pressure-sprinkler irrigation system on AIO and 67 percent across the U.S., 79 and 75 percent of irrigated farms using a gravity system across the West and the U.S., respectively, and 81 and 82 percent of irrigated farms using drip/trickle and low-flow or micro-spray irrigation across the West and the U.S., respectively. However, it is important to recognize that larger farms tend to irrigate more AIO acres by technology type, especially for pressurized irrigation technologies.

Set 6. Gravity Irrigation Statistics by System Type by Farm Size (Tables 6-1 to 6-15)

Only about 37.1 and 44.7 percent of all irrigated farms across the U.S. and the West, respectively, made use of a gravity irrigation system in 2013. Similarly, in the West, gravity irrigated acres (at 13.5 million acres) accounted for only 34 percent of total irrigated acres for the region, and at 21.5 million acres they accounted for just 39 percent of total irrigated acres for the U.S. in 2013. While nearly 80 percent of the farms using a gravity irrigation system across the West and for the U.S. are low- to moderate-sales farms, 67.2 and 77.4 percent of total gravity irrigated acres for each region, respectively, are on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Two States, Arkansas and California accounted for 41 percent of all gravity irrigated acres across the U.S. (4.3 to 4.5 million acres each). However, just seven States (California, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming in the West, and Arkansas and Mississippi in the Southeast) accounted for nearly 70 percent of all gravity irrigated acres in the U.S. (14.7 million out of 21.5 million acres) in 2013.

Gravity flood irrigation systems. About 72 percent of flood irrigated AIO across the U.S. in 2013 were in the Western States (7.9 million out of 11.0 million acres) (table 6-11). For both regions, gravity flood irrigation systems were used to irrigate most gravity irrigated acres, accounting for 59 and 51 percent, respectively, of all gravity irrigated acres for these regions. Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for 63 percent of flood irrigated AIO in the West and for 71 percent of such acres across the U.S. For Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin, larger farms accounted for more than 85 percent of flood irrigated acres. For Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri, this percentage increased to 92-96 percent for larger irrigated farms. However, in 6 of the 17 Western States, low- and moderate-sales farms (smaller farms with FS < $350,000) accounted for a higher share of flood irrigated acres than do larger farms—Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, and Utah—these States accounted for 26 percent of flood-irrigated acres in the West in 2013. Smaller-farm shares in the West ranged from 15 percent for California to 74 percent for South Dakota. Across the Eastern States, smaller-farm shares of AIO irrigated with flood irrigation systems ranged from 3 percent for Florida to 77 percent for Vermont.

Gravity flood irrigation can vary significantly in their onfarm water delivery system. In 2013 across the West, most flood irrigated AIO (nearly 47 percent) made use of a field-level, unlined open-ditch water delivery system or an uncontrolled field flood or other gravity (including subirrigation) system (28.6 percent). Smaller shares of gravity flood-irrigated AIO in the West made use of above-ground or buried pipe for field water delivery (12.3 percent), a lined open-ditch water-delivery system (11 percent), or a poly-pipe (or other single-year use, lay-flat tubing) water-delivery system (1.3 percent). Similar relative distributions across field-level water-delivery systems existed for aggregate gravity flood irrigated AIO across the U.S. Therefore, for the U.S., most gravity flood irrigated AIO in 2013 made use of an unlined open-ditch water delivery system (42.4 percent) or was irrigated with an uncontrolled field-level flood or subirrigation system (23 percent). A significant share of the flood irrigated AIO using an unlined open-ditch water delivery system were in a few States, California, Colorado, Florida, Montana, and Wyoming (accounting for about 66 percent of such acres across the U.S.). However, a significant share of AIO irrigated with an uncontrolled field flood system were in the Western States (California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming), also accounting for about 66 percent of such acres across the U.S. in 2013.

Gravity furrow irrigation systems. About 53 percent of gravity furrow irrigated AIO across the U.S. in 2013 were in the Western States (5.6 million out of 10.5 million acres). In the West, gravity furrow irrigation systems accounted for 41 percent of all gravity irrigated acres, and 49 percent across the U.S. Nearly 73 percent of gravity furrow irrigated acres in the West were associated with larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), and across the U.S., about 83 percent. Arkansas, California, Mississippi, and Nebraska accounted for the larger shares of gravity furrow irrigated AIO across the West or the U.S. For Arkansas, California, and Mississippi, most gravity furrow irrigated acres were associated with the largest irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000), ranging from 82 to 86 percent. For furrow gravity systems, three western and one eastern State—Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Vermont—have acreage distributions (for AIO) favoring low- to moderate-sales farms (FS < $350,000). But these States account for only 12 and 6 percent of furrow gravity AIO irrigated in the West and across the U.S., respectively.

Gravity furrow irrigation can also vary significantly in their onfarm water delivery system. In 2013 across the West, for gravity furrow irrigated AIO, 33.7 percent made use of above-ground or buried pipe for onfarm water delivery (25.8 percent made use of gated-pipe systems), 18.2 percent used a lined open-ditch for water delivery, 34.5 percent used an unlined open-ditch system, and 13.6 percent made use of poly-pipe (or other single-year use, lay-flat tubing) for field water delivery. In the West, the larger shares were for the use of above-ground or buried pipe and unlined open-ditch field water delivery. These shares differed somewhat for the entire U.S., where for gravity furrow irrigated AIO, 23.3 percent made use of above-ground or buried pipe water delivery (18 percent being for gated-pipe systems), 10.6 percent used lined open-ditch systems, 21.3 percent used unlined open-ditch systems, and nearly 45 percent made use of poly-pipe field water delivery systems. Particularly in the Southeast U.S. (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri), poly-pipe (lay-flat tubing), accounting for the largest share, was the favorite method for field water delivery on gravity furrow irrigated AIO. For each of these field water delivery systems, the greater shares of AIO were associated with the larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), ranging from 68 and 71 percent for the West and the U.S., respectively, for gravity furrow irrigated AIO making use of an unlined open-ditch water-delivery system, to 72 and 92 percent for the West and the U.S., respectively, for gravity furrow irrigated AIO making use of a poly-pipe water-delivery system.

Set 7. Pressure-Sprinkler Irrigation Statistics by System Type by Farm Size (Tables 7-1 to 7-17)

Pressure-sprinkler irrigation is a method of applying irrigation water to a field similar to natural rainfall. Water, delivered through a system of pipes, is pressurized using a pump and sprayed into the air and onto the field. The water is distributed across the field from overhead by high-pressure sprinklers or sprays or guns mounted on risers or on moving platforms. Pressure-sprinkler irrigation may involve the use of center-pivot, linear-move, or solid-set systems, where each may be either high, medium, or low pressure [pounds per-square-inch (PSI)] systems. High-pressure systems operate at equal to or greater than 60 pounds per square-inch (PSI); medium-pressure systems operate between 30 to less than 60 PSI; low-pressure systems operate at between 15 to less than 30 PSI; and very low-pressure systems operate at under 15 PSI. Sprinkler irrigation may also involve use of less automated systems such as mechanical-move, big-gun/traveler systems, or hand-move sprinkler systems. Pressure-sprinkler irrigation also includes the use of drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray systems.

About 53 percent of all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. make use of pressure-sprinkler irrigation, however, 74 percent of all U.S. farms using these systems are located in the Western States (90,057 out of 121,655 farms). For the West and across the U.S., most of these farms are smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000), accounting for nearly 70 percent of pressure-sprinkler irrigated farms in the West and 68 percent across the U.S. States with the dominant number of pressure-sprinkler irrigated farms (all in the West) include California, Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas and Washington (accounting for nearly 60 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated farms in the West).

In the West, 30.5 million acres in the open (AIO) were irrigated in 2013 using pressure-sprinkler irrigation systems (sprinkler plus drip/trickle/low-flow/micro systems) (69 percent of all pressure-sprinkler and gravity irrigated acres in the West). For the U.S., these systems irrigated 39.8 million AIO (65 percent of all pressure-sprinkler and gravity irrigated acres across the U.S.). However, the distribution of these acres across farm-size were opposite the distribution associated with the number of farms using these systems. Most pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres were on larger farms (FS ≥ $350,000), 82.5 and 84.2 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively, while nearly 60 percent were associated with the largest farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). There are eleven States with a million or more acres irrigated with pressure-sprinkler systems, but the five leading States (California, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas) (all in the West) account for nearly 73 percent of these acres in the West and 56 percent across the U.S. For these leading States, the share of pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) ranged from 45 percent for Texas to 78 percent for California.

Center-pivot (CP) sprinkler systems (for high, medium, or low PSI) were used to irrigate 21.9 million AIO in the West and 27.9 million AIO across the U.S. in 2013, accounting for 72 and 70 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres (including acres for drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray systems) in the West and across the U.S., respectively. High-pressure CP systems were used on 5.1 and 6.1 percent of all CP irrigated acres in the West and for the U.S., respectively. Most high-pressure CP irrigated acres (85 to 87 percent) were on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Medium-pressure CP systems were used to irrigate 10.0 and 13.4 million acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 45.7 and 48 percent of all CP irrigated acres for the two regions, respectively). Nearly 63 and 66 percent of these acres were on large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) for the West and the U.S., respectively. Low-pressure CP systems were used to irrigate 10.8 and 12.8 million acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 49.2 and 45.8 percent of all CP irrigated acres for the two regions, respectively). About 54 and 57 percent of these acres were on large-scale farms for these regions, respectively, however, an additional 29 and 28 percent were associated with mid-size farms (FS ≥ $350,000 and < $1,000,000) for the two regions, respectively.

Linear-Move and solid-set (LM&SS) sprinkler systems (for high, medium, or low PSI) were used to irrigate 1.6 million AIO in the West and 2.1 million AIO across the U.S. in 2013, accounting for 5.3 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S. High-pressure LM&SS systems were used on 17 and 18 percent of all LM&SS irrigated acres in the West and for the U.S., respectively. Most of these acres, 82 percent in the West and 76 percent for the U.S., were on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Most high-pressure LM&SS irrigated acres are in California, accounting for 63 percent of all such acres in the West. Medium-pressure LM&SS systems were used to irrigate 0.9 and 1.1 million acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 55.4 and 53.7 percent of all LM&SS irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively). About 60 percent of these acres were on large-scale farms both in the West and across the U.S. California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington were the dominant States with irrigated acres using medium-pressure LM&SS systems. Low-pressure LM&SS systems were used to irrigate 0.5 and 0.6 million acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 27.6 and 28.3 percent of all LM&SS irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively). About 57 and 59 percent of these acres were on large-scale farms for these regions, respectively, but, an additional 21 to 22 percent were associated with mid-size farms for the two regions.

Hand or mechanical-move and big gun/traveler sprinkler systems (all pressures) were used to irrigate 2.6 million AIO in the West and 3.2 million AIO across the U.S. in 2013, accounting for 8.4 and 8.1 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively. FRIS did not identify acres irrigated with these systems by pressure (PSI) category. Mechanical-move, big gun/traveler systems were used on 1.8 and 2.4 million irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, accounting for about 6.1 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres for each of the two regions, respectively. However, for these systems, acres irrigated were more uniformly distributed across all farm-size classes, with 44.5 percent on smaller farms (FS < $350,000) and 55.5 percent on larger farms (FS ≥ $350,000) in the West; and for the U.S., 39 percent were on smaller farms and 61 percent were on larger farms. California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Utah are the dominant States using these systems, accounting for nearly 74 percent of acres in the West for these systems. Hand-move sprinkler systems were used on 0.7 and 0.8 million irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, accounting for 2.4 and 2.1 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Most acres irrigated using these systems were either on the smallest (low-sales) farms or on the largest farms, with each accounting for 40 to 42 percent of the acres irrigated using hand-move systems. California, Idaho, and Oregon are the dominant States using these systems.

Drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigation systems were used on 38,561 irrigated farms in the West and 59,435 irrigated farms across the U.S. in 2013, accounting for 22.8 and 25.9 percent of all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively. The vast majority of the farms using these systems are the smallest (low-sales) farms, accounting for 73.6 and 72.5 percent of these farms in the West and for the U.S., respectively. California has the largest number of irrigated farms using drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray systems, accounting for 66 percent of such farms in the West and 43 percent across the United States.

These systems irrigated 3.6 million and 4.9 million AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, accounting for 11.9 and 12.3 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively. They also accounted for 9.1 and 8.8 percent of all farm irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively. While low-sales farms account for the significant share of irrigated farms using these systems, 87 to 88 percent of all drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres were irrigated by larger farms, with 74 to 75 percent irrigated by the largest farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Four States, California, Florida, Texas, and Washington account for nearly 81 percent of these acres for the U.S., with California alone accounting for 76 percent of drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres in the West and nearly 57 percent across the U.S. Within California, 80 percent of these acres are on the largest irrigated farms (FS > $1,000,000).

Irrigation Water Management Practices

Two farm-level water management items reported in the 2013 FRIS help to broaden the traditional irrigation application technology definition to an irrigation ‘production system’ technology concept, and to illustrate a varying potential for conservation improvement across farm-size classes for irrigated agriculture. The first water management item relates to the extent producers participate in gravity water-management practices. FRIS reported information on four groups of water management practices for gravity irrigated acres: 1) use of tailwater pits to capture irrigation runoff, restricting runoff by diking the end of the field, limiting irrigation set times or the number of field irrigations, or irrigating only alternative rows (furrows); 2) using a surge-flow or cablegation system, or applying mulch or other types of row covers; 3) use of precision-leveling or zero-grading of gravity irrigated acres; and 4) using shortened furrow lengths, applying water-soluble polyacrylamide (PAM), or applying special furrowing practices such as wide-spaced bed furrowing, compacted furrows, or furrow diking. These practices can be aggregated into two classes: field-level gravity water-management (consisting of techniques in category 4 above) and system-oriented gravity water-management (consisting of techniques within categories 1, 2, and 3 above). The second water-management item reported in FRIS, relevant across all irrigated agriculture, addresses irrigation water-management intensity, that is, the level at which producers apply water management at the intensive margin, or the degree of sophistication used in determining when to apply irrigation water for a given crop and by how much. Irrigators may decide when and how much irrigation water to apply based on a variety of practices, such as the "condition of the crop", "feeling the soil", a personal calendar schedule, when their neighbor irrigates, use of soil- and/or plant-moisture sensing devices, use of a commercial irrigation-scheduling service, and use of computer crop-growth simulation models, etc. Applying water when the crop requires it and only as much as the plant requires for crop consumptive use by crop-growth stage (excluding any salt leaching requirement) can significantly improve irrigation efficiency. Items 8 and 9 below discuss the use of gravity water-management practices for key gravity irrigation systems and for field-level and system-oriented gravity water-management classes. [Water-management intensity is discussed in item 13 below.]

Set 8. Gravity Irrigation by System Type and Water-Management Practice by Farm Size (Tables 8-1 to 8-11)

Gravity irrigated farms applied one or more of the gravity water-management practices (identified above) on 6.7 million and 10.4 million gravity irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, accounting for 49.8 and 48.3 percent of all gravity irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively. The two primary States where one or more of these practices were applied on gravity irrigated acres included Arkansas and California, which accounted for 45.4 percent of such acres across the U.S. Only eight States, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming accounted for 76.3 percent of all such acres across the U.S. Across the West and the U.S., most of these acres, 73.1 and 81.4 percent respectively, were on larger-irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). However, for Colorado, most of these acres (68 percent) were on smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000), while for Montana and Wyoming, these acres were more evenly distributed across all four farm-size classes.

Nearly 3.2 million and 5.5 million gravity furrow irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, were irrigated applying one or more gravity water-management practices, accounting for 56.6 and 52.6 percent of all furrow gravity irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, for 2013. For both regions, most of these acres (77 and 85 percent, respectively) were on the larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Arkansas, California, Mississippi, and Nebraska were the dominant States for these acres, accounting for 52.4 percent of these acres for the U.S.

Nearly 3.6 and 4.9 million gravity flood irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, were irrigated applying one or more gravity water-management practices, accounting for 45.1 and 44.2 percent of all flood irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, for 2013. For both regions, a large majority of these acres (69.6 and 76.7 percent, respectively) were on larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Arkansas and California were the dominant States for these acres, accounting for 52.4 percent of these acres for the U.S.

Field-level specific gravity water-management practices were applied on only 0.9 million and 1.2 million gravity irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, accounting for just 16.7 and 11.8 percent of all gravity furrow irrigated acres for the West and across the U.S., respectively, for 2013. These practices involved using shortened furrow lengths, use of PAM, or use of other special furrow practices such as wide-spaced bed furrowing, compacted furrows, or furrow diking. [Note: only gravity furrow irrigated acres were used to determine the relative shares for these acres because these practices apply to gravity furrow irrigation.] Nearly 50 percent of these acres for the U.S. were irrigated in Arkansas, California, and Idaho. For most States with these acres, most were on larger irrigated farms (ranging from 76 percent in the West to 80 percent for the U.S.). However, for Idaho, these acres were more uniformly distributed across all farm-size classes, likely reflecting a heightened awareness of water scarcity due to policy-induced regional endangered species issues and greater emphasis on furrow-irrigated row-crop production.

System-oriented gravity water-management practices were applied on 5.6 and 8.6 million gravity irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, accounting for 41.1 and 40 percent of all gravity irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, for 2013. These practices include such activities as capturing irrigation runoff in tailwater pits, diking the end of the field to restrict runoff, limiting irrigation set times or the number of irrigations, irrigating only alternate furrows, using a surge-flow or cablegation system, applying mulch or other types of row covers, and irrigating only after precision-leveling or zero-grading the field. Two States, California and Arkansas, accounted for nearly 50 percent of these acres across the U.S., and for both States most of these acres are on the largest irrigated farms, ranging from 68 to 86 percent, respectively.

Set 9. Gravity Water-Management Shares by Management Practice Category by Farm Size (Tables 9-1 to 9-6)

The efficiency of gravity irrigation depends not only on the use of more efficient gravity irrigation application systems (such as the use of a surge-flow furrow irrigation system with water delivered to the field through a lined open ditch water delivery system), but on how the water is managed once it reaches the farm and/or the field. In other words, it matters what gravity water-management practices are used to assist in applying the water to the field. As discussed in Section 8 above, FRIS reports the acres using gravity water-management practices within only four broad groups (earlier FRIS reports separately reported these acres by individual practice, so to compare statistics here with earlier FRIS data, one would need to sum earlier FRIS data consistent with the 2013 FRIS water-management practice groups). Here, as a relative indicator of gravity-irrigation efficiency by State and region, the following discussion highlights the relative shares of gravity-irrigated acres using gravity water-management practices by the 2013 FRIS reported gravity water-management practice groups (1 – 4), separately, and for categories capturing improved field-level or system-oriented gravity water-management practices.

Gravity water-management practices within FRIS gravity water-management group 1 [including the use of tailwater pits to capture irrigation runoff, runoff restricted by diking the end of the field, limiting the number of irrigation set times or the number of field irrigations, or where only alternative rows (furrows) were irrigated] were applied to only 23.1 percent of gravity-irrigated acres in the West (and to 19.6 percent across the U.S.) in 2013. For gravity irrigated acres across the U.S., the relative share making use of these practices varied little by farm-size class, ranging from 16.2 percent for low-sales farms to 20.9 percent for mid-size and large-scale farms. However, in the West, these relative efficiency shares for gravity irrigation increased to about 25 percent for the larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma were the States with the larger relative shares of gravity-irrigated acres on which these improved water-management practices were applied.

Gravity water-management practices within FRIS gravity water-management group 2 [including the use of a surge-flow or cablegation system, or applying mulch or other types of row covers] were applied to only 3.3 percent of gravity-irrigated acres in the West (and to 2.4 percent across the U.S.) in 2013. The relative share of total gravity-irrigated acres on which these practices were applied remained fairly uniform by farm-size class for the West and across the U.S. Arizona, California, Nebraska, and Wyoming were the States with the largest number of gravity-irrigated acres making use of these practices, but even so, the shares for these States were relatively small, ranging from 1.7 percent in California to 6.8 percent in Nebraska and 12.7 percent in Wyoming.

Gravity water-management practices within FRIS gravity water-management group 3 [including the use of precision-leveling or zero-grading (laser-leveling) of gravity irrigated acres] were applied to 14.7 percent of total gravity-irrigated acres in the West (and to 18.1 percent across the U.S.) in 2013. These shares varied by farm-size class, ranging from 5.6 percent for low-sales farms to 20.3 percent for large-scale farms in the West; and from 5.9 to 22.3 percent across these farm-size classes, respectively, for the U.S. However, for the States that accounted for most of the gravity-irrigated acres using laser-leveling practices (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri) the relative shares of their total gravity-irrigated acres using these practices ranged from 22.5 percent for Arkansas to 33.8 percent for Missouri and 36.5 percent for Arizona.

Gravity water-management practices within FRIS gravity water-management group 4 [including the use of shortened furrow lengths, applying water-soluble polyacrylamide (PAM), or applying special furrowing practices such as wide-spaced bed furrowing, compacted furrows, or furrow diking] were applied to only 6.9 percent of gravity-irrigated acres in the West (and to 5.8 percent across the U.S.) in 2013. These shares by farm-size class were similar in the West and across the U.S., ranging from a low of 4.3 percent of gravity-irrigated acres for low-sales farms across the U.S. to a high of 8.2 percent for large-scale farms in the West. Arkansas, California, and Idaho accounted for the largest number of gravity-irrigated acres using these practices, but their shares (of total gravity irrigated acres) ranged from 4.2 percent for Arkansas to 16.4 percent for Idaho.

The share of total gravity-irrigated acres applying gravity water-management practices also varied widely depending upon whether the improved practices were field-level or system-oriented practices. The share of total gravity-irrigated acres associated with using improved field-level water-management practices (those in FRIS group 4) were relatively small, ranging from 5.8 percent across the U.S. to 6.9 percent in the West. However, the shares of total gravity irrigated acres associated with using improved system-oriented water-management practices (those in FRIS groups 1, 2, and 3), when combined, ranged from 40 percent for the U.S. to 41 percent in the West. These shares varied similarly by farm-size class whether for the West or the U.S., ranging from 25-26 percent for low-sales farms to 44 and 49 percent for large-scale farms. Even so, whether for field-level or system-oriented improvements in the use of gravity water-management practices, 2013 FRIS data demonstrate that significant room exists for more extensive adoption of these practices across gravity-irrigated agriculture in the West and across the U.S.

Set 10. Precision-Leveled or Zero-Graded (Laser-Leveled) Irrigation Statistics by Farm Size (Table 10-1)

Precision-leveling or zero-grading (laser-leveling) gravity-irrigated acres eliminates variation in field gradient ─ smoothing the field surface and often reducing field slope ─ to help control water advance and improve uniformity of soil saturation across the field. Laser-leveling a field is the second most frequently used gravity water-management practice. Nearly 2.0 million acres were laser-leveled across the West as of 2013 (accounting for 14.7 percent of all gravity-irrigated acres in the West), and 3.9 million acres (for 18.1 percent) were laser-leveled across the U.S. in 2013 (table 10-1). Nearly 56 percent of these acres across the U.S. (2.2 million acres) were in Arkansas and California ─ with California accounting for 1.2 million acres. In the West, more than 1.2 million (61 percent) of these acres were gravity-irrigated on the largest irrigated farms (FS > $1,000,000), while across the U.S. 2.7 million acres (70 percent of these acres) were irrigated on large-scale farms. Precision-leveling or zero-grading a field is capital intensive, so it is understandable that larger farms apply this practice more frequently than smaller farms.

Six leading States—Arizona, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri—account for 85 percent of laser-leveled irrigated AIO across the U.S. About 85 percent of laser-leveled irrigated acres in the West are associated with mid-size to large-scale farms (FS ≥ $350,000), with equivalent shares for the U.S. at 91 percent. Across the Western States, the shares for large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) ranges from about 27 percent for Oregon to 83 percent for Arizona and 87 percent for Mississippi. Two Western States—Montana and New Mexico—have distributions that are more favorable to smaller irrigated farms (FS ≤ $350,000). However, these two States combined account for only 7 percent of all laser-leveled irrigated AIO across the West.

Higher-Efficiency Irrigation: Separately for Pressure-Sprinkler and Gravity Irrigation Systems

Farm-level irrigation technologies vary widely in their efficiency potential. Irrigation application efficiency here refers to the relative amount of applied water that gets taken up through plant consumptive-use—in general, the ratio of plant consumptive-use to actual water applied. Uncontrolled flood irrigation is widely recognized as the least efficient irrigation system, generally below 50 percent but potentially as low as 35 percent (Negri and Hanchar, 1989). In general, gravity-based irrigation efficiencies range from 35 to 80/85 percent, with higher efficiencies associated with improved gravity-application systems operated along with the use of one or more gravity water-management practices. These improved systems may involve distributing water across a field using furrows, between borders, or within a basin, in combination with a lined or piped field water-delivery system, cablegation or surge-flow water application, or with the use of gravity water-management practices, such as use of tailwater reuse pits, furrow-diking, alternate-row irrigation, or limited-irrigation set times (discussed in Sections 8 and 9 above). Pressure or sprinkler-based system efficiencies can range from 50 to 90/95 percent, with low-pressure systems, low-energy precision application (LEPA), and drip/trickle or low-flow and micro-spray systems capable of efficiencies as high as 85-95 percent. The higher the irrigation-application efficiency, the more onfarm water-conserving the irrigation technology tends to be.

FRIS irrigated acres-in-the-open (AIO) by irrigation technology were used to structure "higher efficiency" irrigation technology classes, separately for pressure-based sprinkler irrigation and for gravity irrigation. For both irrigation types, acres irrigated across irrigation technology systems were summarized for two different levels [definitions (1) and (2)] of a "higher efficiency" irrigation technology. For both definitions, the share of 2013 acres irrigated using the designated irrigation application systems (excluding consideration of the use of any onfarm water-management practice) were used to define the efficiency rating. (FRIS data did not allow for summarizing different irrigation application systems coincident with appropriate onfarm water-management practices.) The purpose of the two alternative efficiency definitions applied for this analysis is to provide a likely estimate of a relative range of "higher efficiency" irrigation for the 17 Western States and for the U.S. [For further discussion of improved onfarm irrigation efficiency in U.S. irrigated agriculture, its role within USDA agricultural water conservation policy, and its potential role in promoting a sustainable future for U.S. irrigated agriculture within an expected environment of increased water scarcity due to climate change, see book Chapter 2.1.1 titled Challenges for US Irrigated Agriculture in the Face of Emerging Demands and Climate Change (G.D. Schaible and M.P. Aillery), in Competition for Water Resources: Experiences and Management Approaches in the US and Europe, eds. Jadwiga Ziolkowska and Jeffrey Peterson, Elsevier Publishing (October 2016).]

Set 11. Shares of Higher-Efficiency Pressure-Sprinkler Irrigation by Farm Size (Tables 7-1 to 7-17 and Tables 11-1 to 11-4)

More efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation definition (1) includes only irrigated acres in the open (AIO) using drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray systems, accounting for about 3.6 million acres West-wide (9.1 percent of all farm irrigated AIO in the West) and 4.9 million acres (for 8.8 percent of all farm irrigated AIO) across the U.S. in 2013 (table 7-12). Nearly 75 percent of drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres are located in the 17 Western States. Four key states, California, Florida, Texas, and Washington account for 81 percent of all drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigated AIO in the U.S. But California accounts for 76.3 percent of these acres across the West and 56.9 percent of these acres across the U.S. Under this definition for pressure-sprinkler efficient irrigation, low-sales irrigated farms (FS < $150,000), which make up 64-67 percent of all irrigated farms across the U.S. and the West, respectively, and 73-74 percent of all irrigated farms with drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray irrigation, account for less than 10 percent of the higher-efficiency irrigated acres (those using drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray systems), either in the West (at 8.3 percent) or across the U.S. (at 8.4 percent). Slightly more than 74 percent of drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres (or 2.7 million acres) are irrigated by the largest farms (FS > $1,000,000) across the West, with similar-sized farms accounting for 3.6 million acres (or 73.7 percent) across the U.S. For the four leading states, California, Florida, Texas, and Washington, mid- and large-scale farms (those with FS ≥ $350,000) accounted for 76-94 percent of drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres. However, drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres accounted for only 12.8 percent of all pressure-sprinkler-irrigated acres for mid- and large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), both in the West and across the U.S. In addition, under definition (1), higher efficiency pressure-sprinkler irrigation (drip/trickle and low-flow/micro-spray irrigation) accounted for only 11.9 percent of all pressurized irrigation in the West and 12.3 percent for the U.S.

More efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation definition (2) includes acres irrigated in the open (AIO) with low-pressure sprinkler irrigation systems (center-pivot, linear-move, or solid-set systems operating with PSI < 30) and acres irrigated with drip/trickle/low-flow or micro-spray systems. Expanding the scope of the "efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation" definition to include low-pressure sprinkler systems increases these irrigated acres West-wide to about 14.9 million irrigated acres, accounting for 48.7 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres in the West in 2013 (table 7-16). Across the U.S. for this efficiency definition, there were 18.3 million irrigated AIO (representing about 45.9 percent of all U.S. pressure-sprinkler irrigated AIO) in 2013. The western States account for nearly 82 percent of these efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres across the U.S., while just four key States in the West, California, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas account for nearly 73 percent of these acres in the West (10.8 million out of 14.9 million acres) and 60 percent of these acres for the U.S. Again, about 84 percent of these acres West-wide (or 12.5 million acres) are irrigated on larger irrigated farms (FS > $350,000). For the U.S., 85 percent of all low-pressure sprinkler and drip/trickle/low-flow and micro-spray irrigated acres (15.6 million acres) are irrigated on these farms.

Under definition 2 for pressure-sprinkler irrigation, the "higher-efficiency" rating for low- and moderate-sales farms (FS < $350,000) (measured relative to all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres) averages between 40 to 47 percent, respectively, across the West and for the U.S., while for larger irrigated farms (FS > $350,000) the rating averages between 46 to 50 percent of all pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres (table 11-3). The overall weighted-average efficiency rating is about 49 percent for the 17 Western States and 46 percent for the U.S. This efficiency rating ranges from 20.6 percent for Utah to 85.3 percent for Texas in the West, and from lows of 5.7 and 13.4 percent for Maine and Wisconsin in the East, respectively, to 74.4 percent for Florida. For the four key western States accounting for most of the efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres (under definition 2), most of their "efficiency" ratings are relatively high (68.3 percent for California, 69.0 percent for Kansas, 85.3 percent for Texas), except for Nebraska (with an efficiency rating of only 28.9 percent). However, when measuring efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation relative to all farm irrigated acres, this "efficient irrigation" definition (low-pressure-sprinkler, drip/trickle, and low-flow/micro-spray irrigated acres) accounts for just 37.3 percent of all farm-irrigated acres in the West, and 33 percent of these acres across the U.S. (table 11-4).

In summary, based on 2013 FRIS data on irrigated acres by irrigation application system and given the two alternative irrigation efficiency definitions, "higher-efficient" pressure-sprinkler irrigation in the West ranges between very likely low estimates for definition 1 of 12 and 9 percent (when measured relative to total pressure-sprinkler irrigation or total farm irrigated acres, respectively) to moderately higher estimates for definition 2 of nearly 49 and 37 percent (also relative to total pressure-sprinkler irrigation or total farm irrigated acres, respectively). These "efficiency" ratings for definition 1 for the U.S. are similar to those for the West. However, for the U.S., efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation can account for 46 and 33 percent of total pressure-sprinkler irrigation and total farm irrigated acres, respectively. FRIS irrigation technology data imply that efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation is slightly higher in the western States than in the eastern States, and that significant room likely still exists for continued improvement in irrigation water-use efficiency across pressure sprinkler-irrigated agriculture in both regions. Also, across farm-size classes, the relative improvement "potential" may be slightly greater for smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000) than for larger farms (FS > $350,000)—as much as 60 and 55 percent, respectively―when based on efficient irrigation definition (2) measured relative to total pressure-sprinkler irrigated acres. However, larger irrigated farms irrigate many more acres, so the likely conservation effect could be much greater for these farms.

Set 12. Shares of Higher-Efficiency Gravity Irrigation by Farm Size (Tables 6-1 to 6-15 and Tables 12-1 to 12-14)

More efficient gravity-irrigation definition (1) includes furrow gravity-irrigated acres involving the use of an above- or below-ground pipe (including above-ground poly-pipe) or a lined open-ditch field water-delivery system. In other words, furrow gravity irrigation, in this case, is defined as "more efficient" because the irrigation system more efficiently delivers water to the field. About 45 percent of these acres across the U.S. are in the western States (3.7 out of 8.3 million acres) (table 12-10). The six States accounting for 76 percent of these acres across the U.S. include Arkansas (2.4 million acres), California (0.7 million acres), Louisiana (0.5 million acres), Mississippi (1.1 million acres), Missouri (0.6 million acres), and Nebraska (1.1 million acres). The larger share of these acres are irrigated on larger-irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), 75.1 percent in the West and 86.5 percent across the U.S. For the six key States, most of these acres are irrigated by large-scale operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000), with the exception of Nebraska. Shares for these acres for large-scale farms range from 67 percent (for Missouri) to 81-84 percent for California and Mississippi, respectively. For Nebraska, these acres are spread more uniformly across both mid-size and large-scale farms, accounting for 81 percent of these acres for the State. Across the West, irrigated acres for gravity irrigation efficiency definition 1 represent 27 percent of all gravity-irrigated acres (38.4 percent across the U.S.) (table 12-12). These efficiency-ratings vary across farm-size classes, from 20-21 percent for low-sales farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, to 30-45 percent for large-scale farms for these regions, respectively. Among the six key States irrigating these acres, Nebraska and Mississippi have the highest gravity-irrigation efficiency ratings, 84.7 and 86.7 percent, respectively. California has the lowest efficiency rating among these States for definition 1, accounting for only 15 percent of total gravity-irrigated acres in California.

More efficient gravity-irrigation definition (2) broadens (in addition to) the efficient gravity irrigation definition (1) to include gravity-irrigated acres for flood irrigation that occurs between borders or within basins, but limited to farms using laser-leveled (precision-leveled or zero-graded) acres and using a pipe or a lined open-ditch field water delivery system. About 46 percent of these acres across the U.S. are in the western States (4.4 out of 9.6 million acres) (table 12-11). The same six States (identified for definition 1) plus Arizona account for most of the acres under efficient-gravity definition 2, Arkansas (2.8 million acres), California (1.1 million acres), Louisiana (0.6 million acres), Mississippi (1.2 million acres), Missouri (0.6 million acres), Nebraska (1.1 million acres), and Arizona (0.5 million acres). Again, most of these acres are irrigated on larger-irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), 77 percent in the West and 87 percent across the U.S. Similar to definition 1, for the seven key States for definition 2, most of these acres are irrigated on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000), ranging from 67 percent for Missouri to 82-83 percent for Arkansas and Mississippi. Again, the acres for efficient gravity definition 2 for Nebraska are fairly uniformly distributed across mid-size and large-scale farms, about 42 percent each. The additional irrigated acres for definition 2 enhances the efficiency ratings for gravity irrigation, accounting for 32 percent of total gravity-irrigated acres in the West and nearly 45 percent across the U.S. (table 12-13). However, the variability in these efficiency ratings increases with farm-size for definition 2 (relative to definition 1), ranging from 22-23 percent for low-sales farms (for the West and the U.S., respectively) to 38-53 percent for large-scale farms (for the West and the U.S., respectively). Among the seven key States irrigating acres under efficient gravity definition 2, Nebraska and Mississippi again account for the higher gravity-irrigation efficiency ratings, 87.1 and 92.5 percent, respectively, while California continues to account for the lowest efficiency rating among these States for definition 2 (accounting for only 22 percent of total gravity-irrigated acres in the State).

In summary, based on 2013 FRIS data and given the two definitions for efficient gravity irrigation, "higher-efficiency" gravity irrigation in the West could likely range from 27-32 percent (relative to total gravity-irrigated acres), and from 38-45 percent across U.S. gravity irrigation (tables 12-12 and 12-13). Gravity irrigation appears to be slightly more efficient across the eastern U.S. than for the western States. This should be expected given the relatively higher dominance of gravity irrigation in the East and its more recent development, and therefore, more likely to be making use of the more efficient systems. Efficient-gravity definition (1) likely provides a reasonable lower-bound estimate. However, there is some uncertainty as to whether definition (2) reflects the likely upper-bound estimate of higher-efficiency gravity irrigation. Still, both estimated ranges imply that considerable room likely exists for significant conservation potential associated with continued improvement in onfarm irrigation water-use efficiency across gravity-irrigated agriculture in both regions. For efficient gravity-irrigation definition (2), the relative improvement "potential" for gravity irrigation is likely much greater for smaller irrigated farms than for larger farms (averaging about 75 percent versus 68 percent, respectively, for the West and across the U.S.). The difference between higher-efficiency gravity and pressure-sprinkler irrigation is that efficient gravity irrigation is more prominent with larger-irrigated farms across eastern States, while efficient pressure-sprinkler irrigation is more prominent with larger-irrigated farms across western States. Therefore, because smaller farms in the West irrigate slightly larger shares of gravity-irrigated acres, a water conservation program that emphasizes improvements in gravity irrigation may promote a more uniform conservation effect across farm-size classes. Finally, when efficient gravity irrigation is measured relative to total farm irrigated acres, efficiency ratings range from 11 percent for the West to 17 percent for the U.S. (table 12-14), while total gravity-irrigated acres (table 6-2) represent 34 to 39 percent of all farm irrigated acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively.

Set 13. Methods of Deciding When to Apply Irrigation Water by Farm Size (Tables 13-1 to 13-12)

Producer decisions on irrigation water-management intensity (tables 13-1 to 13-12). FRIS reported information on producer decisions on the use of practices that help determine when and how much water to apply to a crop. Participation in one or more of these practices or those involving more technical information systems generally demonstrates a higher level of human capital investment in onfarm irrigation water-management intensity. This information was available only on a "farm-level participation basis," not on an acreage basis. Therefore, the following summary results reflect the percentage of FRIS farms using alternative means of deciding when and by how much irrigation water to apply.

FRIS reported onfarm participation in one or more of ten different irrigation decision practices, with such decisions being based on or influenced by the "condition of the crop", "feeling of the soil" (for its moisture content), use of soil moisture-sensing devices, plant moisture-sensing devices, a commercial or government irrigation scheduling service, media or internet reports on daily crop-water evapotranspiration (ET) needs, the water delivery schedule of the local irrigation water supplier, use of a personal irrigation calendar schedule, use of computer-based crop-growth simulation models, and irrigating when the neighbors irrigate. All irrigated farms use one or more of these practices.

In general, the more conventional means of deciding onfarm irrigation decisions tended to prevail in the West and across the U.S. in 2013. Both observing the condition of the crop and feel-of-the-soil (tables 13-1 and 13-2) are by far the dominant means used by irrigators. Nearly 75 percent of irrigated farms in the West (and 78 percent across the U.S.) simply observe the condition of the crop, and 38 and 39 percent, respectively for these regions, judge irrigation water needs by just feeling the soil. The next level of reported water-management intensity involves using crop irrigation calendar schedules, used by 24 percent of irrigated farms in the West and 21 percent across the U.S. (table 13-7)), or simply applying water whenever it is delivered to the farm "in-turn" by the local water-supply organization, used by 22 and 16 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively (table 13-6). Use of media reports on crop-water ET needs or just following the lead of one’s neighbor when making irrigation decisions are the two conventional means least used, applied by less than 10 percent of irrigated farms in both regions (tables 13-5 and 13-10).

In the West and across the U.S., of the irrigated farms using "observed condition of the crop" as a means to making irrigation decisions, 73-75 percent are smaller farms (FS < $350,000), with low-sales farms (FS < $150,000) accounting for 61-64 percent. Likewise, smaller farms make up 71-73 percent of the farms using "feel-of-the-soil," 86 percent of farms applying water when it is "delivered in-turn," 80-83 percent of the farms using a "crop calendar schedule", and 85-90 percent of the farms following their "neighbor’s" lead on irrigation decisions. At the same time, even though use of "media/internet reports on crop-water ET needs" as an irrigation decision-support tool is more uniformly distributed across farm-size classes, overall, the conventional or less-efficient means of onfarm water-management generally characterizes smaller irrigated farm operations (FS < $350,000) in the West and across the U.S.

Only about 19 percent of irrigated farms in the West (17 percent across the U.S.) use one or more modern means of deciding when and how much irrigation water to apply, including use of soil- and/or plant-moisture sensing devices, commercial or government irrigation scheduling services, and/or computer-based crop-growth simulation models (tables 13-3, 13-4, 13-8, and 13-9). In addition, use of these more water-management intensive practices is only slightly more favored by smaller-irrigated farms (FS < $350,000), accounting for 57-59 percent of the farms using these practices in the West and across the U.S. (table 13-11). Of all reported irrigation decision practices, the more water-management intensive practices are relatively more uniformly distributed between smaller and larger irrigated farms (with larger farms accounting for 42-43 percent of the farms using these practices across the two regions). However, both the level of use and farm-size distributions vary significantly across each of the management-intensive means of making onfarm irrigation decisions.

Only 10 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. reported making use of soil-moisture sensing devices to assist in the irrigation decision (table 13-3). In aggregate, the farm-size distribution for this decision tool is relatively uniform between smaller and larger irrigated farms (averaging 53 and 47 percent, respectively, for the two regions). However, as a share of all irrigated farms, a slightly greater share of the larger irrigated farms (19-22 percent for the U.S. and in the West, respectively) use soil-moisture sensing devices than do smaller irrigated farms (about 7 percent for both regions).

Less than 2 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. used plant-moisture sensing devices to help determine when or how much to irrigate during the 2013 crop season (table 13-9). These farms were relatively uniformly distributed between smaller and larger irrigated farms (averaging 50 percent each). However, most of the irrigated farms using this practice in their irrigation decisions were from California (which accounted for 70 percent of the farms in the West using this practice, and nearly 60 percent of the farms across the U.S. using this practice).

Only 8-9 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. use commercial or government-sponsored irrigation-scheduling services to help decide on when or how much water to apply (table 13-4). Farms making use of this practice are relatively uniformly distributed between smaller and larger irrigated farms. While relatively few irrigated farms make use of the irrigation decision tool, most farms using the tool are in the West, where six States, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah account for 73 percent of the farms using the practice.

Computer-based crop-growth simulation models (the most management-intensive means of deciding when and how much to irrigate) are used by less than 1 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. (table 13-8). Most of the farms using this water-management tool are in the West, where four States (California, Nebraska, Utah, and Washington) account for 86 percent of the western farms using the tool. However, in the West, 56 percent of the irrigated farms using such models are, surprisingly, smaller farms [with 53 percent among the smallest low-sales irrigated farms (FS < $150,000)]. One logical reason for this is that in a water-restricted environment, it becomes very important to be able to more efficiently manage a smaller water-right allocation.

Summary 2013 FRIS data indicate that less management-intensive/less water-use efficient means to decide when and how much irrigation water to apply still dominates much of irrigated agriculture in the West and across the U.S. This inefficiency in onfarm irrigation water-management is particularly significant for smaller irrigated farms. Most irrigated farms use conventional means of deciding when and how much water to apply. Only about 19 percent of irrigated farms in the West (and 17 percent for the U.S.) make use of the most water- management intensive and water-efficient means to irrigate. Even for the largest irrigated farms (FS > $1,000,000) less than 43 percent in the West (and 34 percent across the U.S.) make use of the most modern means of deciding when and how much to irrigate. Again, FRIS data demonstrates that there likely exists significant potential for improving irrigation water-use efficiency through more extensive adoption of onfarm water-management practices designed to improve producer irrigation decisions, both for irrigated agriculture in the West and across the U.S.

Set 14. Sources of Information Used to Reduce Costs or to Conserve Water by Farm Size (Tables 14-1 to 14-9)

Producers vary in the sources of the information they use to help them make irrigation decisions. FRIS reports on farm-level participation in up to eight sources of information relied on for guidance in assisting in reducing irrigation costs or to conserve water. Producers may rely on irrigation information from one or more sources, including extension agents or university specialists; private irrigation specialists or consultants (hired by the owner or producer); irrigation equipment dealers; local irrigation district employees or others hired by the water supplier; government specialists from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), local conservation district, Bureau of Reclamation (BoR), or other Federal or State agencies; media reports or information in the press; neighboring farmers; and electronic information services (internet, DTN, internet links to private or public data sources, etc.).

All irrigators make use of at least one of the above information sources. However, the two dominant sources of irrigation information producer’s use comes from their neighbors (26.8 and 24.4 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively) or from extension agents and university irrigation specialists (24.0 and 26.4 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). It is interesting to note that irrigators in the West appear to trust slightly more irrigation information from their neighbors, while irrigators in the East appear to place slightly more faith in irrigation information from extension agents or university irrigation specialists. Irrigators depend the least on irrigation information from media reports or the press, ranging from 9-10 percent of farms in the West and across the U.S. For all other irrigation information sources, the share of irrigated farms making use of these sources is relatively uniform, ranging (in the West) from 13 percent of irrigated farms using government specialists (from USDA’s NRCS, local conservation districts, BoR, etc.) and electronic services (internet, etc.) to 18.3 percent of irrigated farms making use of private irrigation specialists or consultants; and ranging (across the U.S.) from 11-12 percent of irrigated farms using government specialists and local irrigation district employees (or others hired by the water supplier) to 18.4 percent of irrigated farms making heavier use of information from irrigation equipment dealers. FRIS data provided no information to evaluate the variability in quality differences between irrigation information sources. The best indicator of that is likely the share of irrigated farms using individual information sources.

Do smaller and larger irrigated farms differ in their sources of irrigation information used to assist in reducing irrigation costs or to conserve water? The answer is yes, while smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000) generally reflect the larger share of farms for each of the information sources (ranging from 55-70 percent of farms), the smallest farms (those farms with FS < $150,000) tend to depend much more heavily on irrigation information from their neighbors (ranging from 62-66 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S.) and on such information from local irrigation district employees or others hired by the local water supplier (ranging from 69-72 percent of farms across the two regions). Larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) generally make relatively similar use of all irrigation information sources, except that more of these farms tend to make heavier use of private irrigation specialists or consultants (ranging as high as 47-50 percent of farms in the West and across the U.S.)

Set 15. Barriers to Irrigation System Improvements by Farm Size (Tables 15-1 to 15-9)

The relatively slow rate of change in the adoption of more efficient irrigation technology systems reflects the impact of barriers to farm-level irrigation system improvements. FRIS reports data on up to nine specific factors that restrict implementation of farm-level irrigation system improvements designed to reduce energy and/or conserve water. FRIS producers were asked to identify all barriers that apply to their farm operation, including one or more of the following:

  1. Investigating improvements was not a priority at the time
    2. Risk of reduced yield or poorer quality crop from not meeting water needs
    3. Physical field or crop conditions limit system improvements
    4. Improvements will reduce costs, but not enough to recover implementation costs
    5. Cannot finance improvements
    6. Landlord(s) will not share cost of improvements
    7. Uncertainty about future availability of water
    8. Will not be farming the operation long enough to justify new improvements, and
  2. Improvements will increase management time or cost.

Three barriers to system improvements stood out as being more important across irrigated farms in 2013: "investigating improvements not being a priority at the time" (22 percent of FRIS irrigators in the West and across the U.S.); "lack of financing ability" (18 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S.); and "uncertainty about future availability of water" (16.8 and 13.5 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). For all other barriers (with one exception) farms reporting there importance ranged from 7-15 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. However, "lack of landlord participation in cost-sharing improvements" was the least important barrier to onfarm system improvements (identified by only 5.5 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S.).

For all these barriers (with one exception), each of the barriers were important mostly to low-sales farms (FS < $150,000), accounting for 60 to 74 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., while being reported as important by much fewer larger farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for 16 to 30 percent of irrigated farms within this group in the West and across the U.S. The exception was the barrier for "lack of landlord participation in cost-sharing improvements," where the share of farms for this barrier were more evenly distributed across all farm-size classes. Results seem to suggest that, with the exception of "lack of landlord participation in cost-sharing improvements," most barriers apply to smaller irrigated farms, but most larger-irrigated farms encounter few barriers to implementing system improvements designed to reduce energy cost and/or conserve water. These results likely imply that conservation financial assistance programs, when implemented in support of small farm goals, can have an impact, even while also supporting watershed-level water conservation goals. However, watershed-level conservation goals may be affected more by conservation activities by larger irrigators (FS ≥ $350,000) since they account for most agricultural water use (nearly 79 percent in the West and 82 percent across the U.S.).

Set 16. Producer Participation in Irrigation-Related Public Technical and/or Financial Assistance Programs during the five years 2009–13, by Farm Size (Tables 16-1 to 16-14)

The 2013 FRIS sheds insight into onfarm irrigation-improvement investments partially funded with public technical and/or financial assistance across farm-size classes. However, FRIS information on farm participation in these programs is available only on a "farm-level participation basis," not on an acreage basis. In addition, FRIS reported irrigated farm participation by major program category, separately, for technical and/or financial assistance for: i) USDA programs for water conservation and environmental improvements, including the Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), and the Conservation Innovation Grants Program (CIG); ii) other USDA programs designed to enhance farm stewardship [through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)] or private resource easements [using the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP), or the Farm & Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP)]; iii) non-USDA Federal programs [from the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other federal programs]; iv) state programs [including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)] and local water management or water supply districts; and v) private businesses, which may include equipment dealers, bankers, or lenders.

During the period 2009–13, only about 8.7 percent of irrigated farms in the West or across the U.S. (14,739 to 19,784 farms, respectively) received technical assistance from any Federal, State, or other publicly-funded technical assistance program for onfarm irrigation or drainage improvements. Only 5 percent of irrigated farms in the West or across the U.S. (8,600 to 11,634 farms, respectively) received such assistance from any Federal program alone (i.e., from USDA or any other Federal agency). Similar low participation existed for financial assistance programs. Only about 8.5 percent of irrigated farms in the West or across the U.S. (14,186 to 19,453 farms, respectively) received financial assistance from any Federal, State, or other publicly-funded financial assistance program for onfarm irrigation or drainage improvements between 2009 and 2013. Only 6.5 percent of irrigated farms in the West or across the U.S. (10,977 to 15,040 farms, respectively) received financial assistance from any Federal program alone during 2009-13.

Significant, but consistent, variability exists across technical and financial conservation program categories. USDA technical and financial assistance programs for water conservation and environmental improvements (from the CTA, EQIP, AWEP, WHIP, and CIG programs) accounted for the largest shares of farm participants across all program categories, accounting for from 4.4 to 5.5 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. between 2009 and 2013 (7,405 to 9,324 farms in the West, for technical and financial assistance, respectively, and 10,120 to 12,444 farms across the U.S, respectively). The second largest source for technical and/or financial assistance for irrigation or drainage improvements came from private businesses such as equipment dealers, bankers, or lenders. About 4 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. used this source for technical assistance during 2009–13 and 2.6 percent of irrigated farms made use of the source for financial assistance across the two regions. The remaining program categories, including for other USDA programs, non-USDA Federal programs, and State/local/water-management/water-supply district programs were all individually used by less than 1.5 percent of irrigated farms in the West or across the U.S. for either technical or financial assistance during 2009–13.

For the two dominant sources of technical and financial assistance during the period 2009-13, including use of USDA programs or use of private businesses such as equipment dealers, bankers, or lenders, the more significant share of irrigated farms using these program categories are smaller farm operations (FS < $350,000), ranging from 57 to 62 percent of irrigated farms making use of technical assistance programs in the West and across the U.S., respectively, and from 53 to 60 percent of irrigated farms making use of financial assistance programs in the West and across the U.S., respectively. However, for irrigated farms receiving financial assistance from "other USDA programs for stewardship" (i.e., financial assistance from USDA’s CSP, CRP, WRP, GRP, or FRPP), a slightly larger share of these farms were larger-irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), ranging from 56 to 60 percent of the irrigated farms using these programs. For non-USDA Federal programs (i.e., from the BoR or EPA, etc.) and for State/local water-management/water-supply district programs, irrigated farms using these programs for financial assistance generally uniformly came from smaller and larger irrigated farm operations during 2009 to 2013. The FRIS data on farm participation in technical and financial assistance programs for onfarm irrigation and/or drainage improvements made during 2009-13 suggests that most programs, particularly USDA programs, at least more moderately favor support improvements on smaller irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S.

Set 17. Irrigation Hired and/or Contract Labor Statistics by Farm Size (Tables 17-1 to 17-5)

For 2013, only 15 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. reported using hired irrigation labor, i.e., labor hired specifically to implement irrigation activities (24,866 out of 169,436 farms in the West and 33,760 out of 229,237 farms across the U.S.). Most of these irrigated farms (74 percent) were located in the 17 Western States. California alone accounted for nearly 38 percent of the irrigated farms in the West using hired irrigation labor. But six States, California, Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and Washington accounted for nearly 74 percent of the irrigated farms in the West using hired irrigation labor. In the West and across the U.S., the share of irrigated farms using hired irrigation labor was relatively evenly distributed between smaller and larger irrigated farms.

Only slightly less than 3 percent of irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. made use of contract labor to implement activities for irrigated crop production in 2013 [81.7 percent of these farms were in the West (4,985 out of 6,099 farms across the U.S.)]. California accounts for the largest number of irrigated farms using contract irrigation labor, 2,028 farms (accounting for 41 percent of these irrigated farms in the West). Six States across the U.S. (California, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, and Utah) account for 68.4 percent of irrigated farms using contract irrigation labor across the U.S. In the West and across the U.S., slightly more than half of the irrigated farms using contract irrigation labor were smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000).

FRIS reported on the total hours of paid (hired) irrigation labor used on irrigated farms for 2013 (it did not report on hours of contract irrigation labor). Of the 69.9 million hours of hired irrigation labor used in 2013, nearly 86 percent (59.7 million hours) was used on irrigated farms in the West. California accounted for 58.6 percent of hired irrigation labor hours across the Western States. However, the farm-size distribution of hired irrigation labor hours differed from the distribution of farms employing this labor. In the West and across the U.S., nearly 71 percent of the hired irrigation labor hours were paid for by large-scale irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000).

FRIS also reported on the average hourly wage rate for hired irrigation labor, and for total expenses for contract irrigation labor for 2013. (Total hired irrigation labor hours and the average hourly wage rate are used to estimate total hired irrigation labor expenses.) About 85 percent of hired irrigation labor expenses across the U.S. were incurred by irrigated farms in the West ($671.3 million out of $789.3 million). Hired irrigation labor in California accounted for 58.3 percent of these expenses across the western States, with nearly 87 percent of these expenses occurring on irrigated farms within 5 States: California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. In the West and across the U.S. nearly 68 percent of these expenses were incurred by the largest irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). The weighted average farm expense for hired irrigation labor was $26,995 per farm in the West and $23,380 per farm across the U.S. (for farms using hired irrigation labor in 2013). But these per farm expenses varied widely across farm-size classes across the U.S., from $10,123 to $7,951 per farm for low-sales and moderate-sales farms, respectively, to $14,415 and $50,438 per farm for mid-size and large-scale farms, respectively. In the West, due to disclosure requirements, information is available only for mid-size farms (at $16,123 per farm) and for large-scale farms (at $63,141 per farm). On an hourly wage-rate basis, these expenses varied less, clearly suggesting that the variability in total expenses were associated with variability in total hired irrigation labor hours. The average wage rate in the West and for the U.S. ranged from $10.98 to $11.08 per hour, respectively, in 2013. For the U.S. the hired irrigation labor wage rate varied from $10.78 per hour for low-sales farms to $11.73 per hour for large-scale farms. Per acre, hired irrigation labor averaged $627.74 across the West and $841.29 across the U.S. in 2013. However, these costs averaged $971.58 per acre for low-sales farms and $468.45 per acre for large-scale irrigated farms across the U.S. in 2013.

Total expenditures for contract irrigation labor in the West and across the U.S. ranged from $142.2 to $160.6 million, respectively, for 2013, with the West accounting for nearly 89 percent of these expenses. California accounted for 73 percent of these expenses across irrigated farms in the West, with six western States (California, Idaho, Kansas, Texas, Utah, and Washington) accounting for 91 percent of these expenses in the West. About 82 and 80 percent of contract irrigation labor expenses for the West and across the U.S., respectively, were incurred by large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). On a farm basis, contract irrigation labor expenses averaged $28,535 and $26,334 per farm in the West and across the U.S., respectively (for farms using contract irrigation labor), in 2013. These costs ranged from $4,194 per farm for low-sales farms to $83,143 per farm for large-scale farms in the West, and from $4,789 per farm for low-sales farms to $72,398 per farm for large-scale farms across the U.S. Per acre, contract irrigation labor averaged $37.11 in the West and $42.67 across the U.S. These costs ranged from $51.96 per acre for low-sales farms to $38.95 per acre for large-scale irrigated farms across the U.S.

Set 18. Irrigation Investment Participation and/or Expenditures by Major Investment Type by Farm Size (Tables 18-1 to 18-22)

FRIS reported on irrigated farm expenditures for irrigation facilities and equipment made in 2013, for six investment expenditure categories, the acres affected by each of these investments, the primary purpose of the investment, and the primary source of funding assistance used to purchase the investment. The six investment categories reported included: i) purchase of new or replacement irrigation equipment and machinery; ii) new well construction or deepening of existing wells; iii) construction or improvement of permanent onfarm storage and distribution systems; iv) purchase of computers, control panels, computer-controlled valves, software, etc.; v) clearing or leveling non-irrigated land for new irrigation acres (for irrigation expansion); and vi) land leveling of previously irrigated land. For each investment expenditure type, survey respondents reported the primary purpose of the expenditure as being made for either new irrigation expansion, water conservation, energy conservation, or for scheduled replacement or maintenance. [The exception here was no primary purpose was reported for investment expenditures for "clearing or leveling non-irrigated land for new expansion," because for these investments it was assumed that the expenditures were for "new irrigation expansion."] Also for each investment expenditure type, survey respondents reported the primary source of funding assistance as "receiving no funding assistance," or coming from "USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)," or from "other USDA financial assistance," or from "non-USDA financial assistance" programs.

First, most irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. did not make investment expenditures for irrigation facilities and equipment in 2013. Only 38.8 percent of irrigated farms in the West (65,697 out of 169,436 farms) and 38.7 percent of irrigated farms across the U.S. (88,769 out of 229,237 farms) invested in one or more of the six investment expenditure categories in 2013. However, nearly 75 percent of the farms making these investments were irrigated farms in the 17 Western States. From a "farm" perspective, more than a majority of the farms making these investments in 2013 were low-sales irrigated farms (accounting for 63.3 percent in the West and 60.1 percent across the U.S.).

Irrigated farms invested $1.9 billion in irrigation facilities and equipment (of all types) in the West, and $2.6 billion across the U.S. in 2013. While 72.2 percent of all U.S. irrigation investment expenditures were made in the West, five western States accounted for the largest share (75 percent) of that investment (California, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas) ($1.4 billion out of $1.9 billion). However, opposite the distribution of "farms" making irrigation investments, 75 to 78 percent of irrigation investment expenditures were made by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) in the West and across the U.S., respectively, with 55 to 58 percent of these investments being made by large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) across the two regions. Clearly, while more smaller-irrigated farms made irrigation investments in 2013, larger irrigated farms dominated the actual expenditures invested. The average irrigation investment expenditure (across all types) was $29,003 per farm in the West and $29,717 per farm across the U.S. (table 18-29). Average total investment expenditures varied significantly across farm-size classes in the West and across the U.S., ranging from $6,906 to $116,202 per farm for low-sales and large-scale farms, respectively, in the West, and from $6,401 to $107,164 per farm for these farm groups, respectively, across the U.S.

Most irrigation investment expenditures in 2013 were made to purchase new or replacement irrigation equipment and machinery (including sprinklers, pipes, siphons, nozzles, pumps, engines, motors, filtration equipment, etc.), accounting for 71 percent of all irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S. ($1.35 and $1.86 billion for the two regions, respectively) (table 18-4). Most of these expenditures were made by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) (74 to 77 percent), with more than 50 percent (52-55 percent) being made by the largest (large-scale) irrigated farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) in the West and across the U.S. The West accounted for nearly 73 percent of all investment expenditures of this type across the U.S. Five western States (California, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas) accounted for nearly 74 percent of these expenditures in the West for 2013.

Another $340.2 and $430.8 million were invested in new well construction or deepening of existing wells (including drilling costs, the well casing cost, and any costs to prepare a well for installation of a pump) (table 18-6), accounting for about 18 and 16 percent of all irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Irrigated farms in the West accounted for 79 percent of investment expenditures made for wells across the U.S. Most of the investment expenditures for wells were made by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for 83-84 percent of these expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Six western States (Arizona, California, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas) accounted for 89 percent of the expenditures for this investment type in the West.

Another $59.9 and $103.5 million were invested in construction or improvement of onfarm permanent water storage and distribution systems (including dams, ponds, reservoirs, permanent ditches, canals, flumes, etc.) (table 18-8), accounting for 3.1 and 3.9 percent of all irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Irrigated farms in the West accounted for about 58 percent of investment expenditures made for onfarm water storage and distribution systems across the U.S. The larger share of expenditures for investments of this type were made by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for 67-76 percent of these expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Six western States (California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and Washington) accounted for 71 percent of the expenditures for this investment type in the West, while three States (Florida, Arkansas, and Mississippi) accounted for 58 percent of these investment expenditures made by irrigated farms in the East.

Another $46.7 and $61.9 million were invested in computers, control panels, computer-controlled valves, software, and software controlled hardware for irrigation water management (table 18-10), accounting for 2.5 and 2.4 percent of all irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Irrigated farms in the West accounted for nearly 76 percent of investment expenditures made for computer-related irrigation technology across the U.S. Most computer-related investment expenditures were made by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for 87 and 86 percent of these expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Five western States (California, Idaho, Nebraska, Texas, and Washington) accounted for the larger share (73 percent) of these investment expenditures in the West.

Another $31.7 and $77.2 million were invested in the clearing or leveling of non-irrigated land for developing new irrigation (the primary purpose being expansion of farm irrigated acres) (table 18-12), accounting for 1.6 and 2.9 percent of all irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. However, for this investment category, the larger share (59 percent) of these 2013 investment expenditures occurred in the Eastern States (not in the West)―only 41 percent of 2013 investment expenditures for land-leveling of previously non-irrigated acres occurred on irrigated farms in the West. Even so, the larger shares (from 59 to 70 percent) of these expenditures continued to be made by large-scale farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Three western States (California, Idaho, and Texas) accounted for 72.3 percent of the land-clearing/leveling investment expenditures creating new irrigated acres in the West. While five eastern States (Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin) accounted for 75 percent of these investment expenditures creating new irrigated acres in the East.

Another $74.3 and $105.7 million were invested in land leveling of previously irrigated land (a land-based improved water-management investment activity, not a new irrigated acre activity) (table 18-14), accounting for 3.9 and 4.0 percent of all irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Irrigated farms in the West accounted for about 70 percent of expenditures for this investment activity across the U.S. Most of the expenditures for this investment activity were made by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for 71 and 78 percent of these expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Four western States (California, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Washington) accounted for nearly 70 percent of land-leveling expenditures associated with previously irrigated acres in the West. Two eastern States (Arkansas and Mississippi) accounted for 67 percent of these investment expenditures on existing irrigated acres in the East.

FRIS classified irrigation investment expenditures (by type) according to the primary purpose of the expenditure, including whether the purpose was for: i) new expansion; ii) water conservation; iii) energy conservation; or iv) scheduled replacement or maintenance. Nearly half of all investment expenditures, 44.7 and 42.2 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively, were made for the purpose of scheduled replacement or maintenance and repair (amounting to $851.3 million and $1.1 billion in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013) (table 18-22). For the West and across the U.S., most of these expenditures (80 percent) were made by larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000) with 56-58 percent made by large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) alone. New irrigation expansion, reported as the second most important purpose of irrigation investment expenditures (based on shares), accounted for 26.8 and 33.5 percent of total irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (amounting to $511.4 and $883.5 million across the two regions, respectively) (table 18-19). Most of these expenditures, 75-80 percent, were associated with larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Improving onfarm water conservation, rated third in importance as a purpose of irrigation investment (based on shares), accounted for 23.7 and 19.8 percent of total irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (amounting to $450.7 and $521.9 million across the two regions, respectively) (table 18-20). Consistent with other investment purposes, most of these expenditures (from 68 to 71 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively) were associated with larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). Energy conservation (based on investment shares) was the least important purpose for making irrigation investments, accounting for 4.8 and 4.5 percent of total irrigation investment expenditures in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (amounting to $92.0 and $118.8 million across the two regions, respectively) (table 18-21). These expenditures were also heavily associated with larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000), accounting for 80-83 percent of such expenditures for the two regions, respectively.

FRIS identified irrigated farms reporting their primary source of funding assistance, by irrigation investment expenditure type, as coming from four sources: i) receiving "no funding assistance"; ii) receiving assistance through USDA’s "EQIP"; iii) receiving "other USDA financial assistance"; or iv) receiving "non-USDA financial assistance." Most irrigated farms making one or more types of irrigation investments in 2013 made these investments from private funding sources. FRIS results show that nearly 93 percent of irrigated farms making irrigation investments in the West and across the U.S. in 2013 received no funding assistance (60,816 out of 65,697 irrigated farms making investments in the West and 81,842 out of 88,769 irrigated farms making investments across the U.S.) (table 18-15 and table 18-1). About 74 percent of the farms receiving no funding assistance were in the West. Also, 62 to 66 percent of these farms were low-sales farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively.

Only about 3.2 percent of irrigated farms making one of more types of irrigation investments in the West or across the U.S. made use of USDA’s EQIP program to assist in funding their investments in 2013 (2,111 and 2,724 irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively) (table 18-16). The larger shares of the farms receiving funding assistance from EQIP for their 2013 irrigation investments (62 and 57 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively) were smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000). Only about 1.5 percent of irrigated farms making irrigation investments in the West or across the U.S. used other USDA programs to assist in funding their 2013 irrigation investments (972 and 1,269 irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively) (table 18-17). These farms were fairly uniformly distributed across farm-size classes. Only 5.2 to 5.8 percent of irrigated farms making irrigation investments (representing 3,394 and 5,152 irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively), made use of non-USDA programs to assist in funding their irrigation investments in 2013 (table 18-18). Farms using this funding source were also fairly uniformly distributed across farm-size classes.

Total irrigation investment (across all categories) averaged $29,000 to $30,000 per farm across the West and the U.S., respectively (for farms making irrigation investments in 2013) (table 18-29). These average investments ranged from $6,400 to $6,906 per farm for low-sale farms to $107,164 and $116,202 per farm for large-scale farms across the U.S. and in the West, respectively. Per acre, for farms making irrigation investments, total irrigation investments averaged $310.96 per acre across the U.S. in 2013. Investments were much higher (per acre) for low-sales farms than for large-scale farms, ranging from $389 and $469 per acre for low-sales farms to $146 and $289 per acre for large-scale farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively.

Average irrigation investment costs varied widely across types of irrigation investments, averaging in the West and across the U.S. $414 and $469 per acre, respectively, for new irrigation equipment or machinery; $71 and $83 per acre for new well construction or deepening of existing wells for the two regions, respectively; $17 and $42 per acre for new water storage and/or onfarm distribution systems for the two regions, respectively; $11 and $18 per acre for new computers, control panels, valves, and software for the two regions, respectively; $27 and $37 per acre for land clearing/leveling of new irrigated acres for the two regions, respectively; and $22 per acre for land clearing/leveling of previous or existing irrigated acres for both regions. Average (per acre) investment costs for new irrigation equipment or machinery, while they were relatively uniform across farm-size classes across the West and for the U.S. in 2013, they are by far the more significant irrigation investment cost. Average cost for this type of investment was nearly 4.8 times the average investment cost for constructing new wells or deepening existing wells; 10 to 23 times the average investment cost for new water storage and/or distribution systems; 25 to 36 times the average investment cost for computers, control panels, and software; 11 to 14 times the average investment cost for land clearing/leveling of new irrigated acres; and 17 to 20 times the average investment cost for land clearing/leveling of previous or existing irrigated acres.

Section II. Summarized Characteristics (for All Irrigated Horticulture Farms)

Set H1. Aggregate Irrigated Farm Values for All Irrigated Horticulture Farms by Farm Size (Tables H1-1 to H1-14)

Aggregate farm values for irrigated horticulture farms (tables H1-1 to H1-14). Irrigated horticulture farms apply surface and groundwater resources to both horticulture and non-horticulture (H & NH) crop acres in the open (AIO), and to horticulture under protection (HUP) (measured in square-feet area). The following discussion first summarizes farm-level characteristics for all irrigated horticulture farms, their total and irrigated AIO and applied water (horticulture and non-horticulture), both total and by water source. Subsequently, the discussion below summarizes AIO, square-feet area, and applied water (all in acre-feet equivalent units) for only horticulture crops [separately for horticulture AIO and horticulture under protection (HUP)].

Irrigated horticulture farms accounted for only 6.2 and 15.1 percent of all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively (10,531 out of 169,436 irrigated farms in the West and 34,569 out of 229,237 irrigated farms across the U.S.) in 2013. California and Florida accounted for nearly 20 percent of all irrigated horticulture farms across the U.S. Nine States (California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington) accounted for 48.4 percent of all irrigated horticulture farms across the U.S. Nearly 70 percent of all irrigated horticulture farms were located in the 31 Eastern States. Nearly 71 percent of irrigated horticulture farms were the smallest (low-sales) farms, in the West and across the U.S.

Irrigated horticulture farms accounted for 7.2 and 12.1 percent of total farm production value (sales) for all irrigated farms for the West and the U.S., respectively, in 2013 ($6.9 out of $96.9 billion for the West and $16.5 out of $136.8 billion for the U.S.). Only 42 percent of farm production sales from irrigated horticulture farms across the U.S. originated from irrigated horticulture farms in the West. Three key western States (California, Oregon, and Texas) and five key eastern States (Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) accounted for 58.2 percent of all irrigated horticulture farm production value across the U.S. in 2013. Nearly 84 percent of farm production sales from irrigated horticulture farms in the West (and 77 percent for the U.S.) were from the largest (large-scale) irrigated horticulture farm operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Low-sales horticulture irrigated farms accounted for less than 4 percent of irrigated horticulture farm sales in the West, and less than 6 percent across the U.S. The average value of farm sales for irrigated horticulture farms was $657,576 per farm in the West, and $477,352 per farm across the U.S. However, these farm values ranged from $36,664 per farm for low-sales farms to $5,308,241 per farm for large-scale irrigated horticulture farms in the West, and for the U.S. from $39,007 per farm for low-sales farms to $4,432,911 per farm for large-scale operations.

Irrigated horticulture farms accounted for only 1.9 and 2.7 percent of total farm acres in the open (AIO) across all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (3.3 and 5.8 million farm acres out of 179.9 and 213.9 million farm acres on irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Nearly 78 and 61 percent of the total farm acres on irrigated horticulture farms were associated with large-scale operations in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Also, irrigated horticulture farms accounted for 1.4 and 2.3 percent of all harvested cropland AIO on irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (0.8 and 1.8 million acres out of 53.2 and 78.7 million harvested cropland AIO on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). The larger share of these acres (66 and 58 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively) were associated with large-scale irrigated horticulture operations. Pastureland acres on irrigated horticulture farms represented only 2.0 and 2.3 percent of all pastureland acres on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (2.2 and 2.6 million acres out of 109.4 and 112.1 million pastureland acres on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). About 90 percent of these acres in the West (and 81 percent across the U.S.) were associated with large-scale irrigated horticulture farms. Total irrigated acres in the open (AIO) [for (H & NH) crops] on irrigated horticulture farms accounted for only 1.4 and 2.0 percent of all irrigated AIO on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [0.6 and 1.1 million acres out of 39.9 and 55.3 million irrigated crop AIO (H & NH) on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively]. About two-thirds of all these acres were associated with large-scale irrigated horticulture farms.

Total water applied to irrigated acres in the open (AIO) (for both H & NH crops) on irrigated horticulture farms accounted for less than 2 percent of total water applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. in 2013 (1.2 and 1.7 million acre-feet out of 72.9 and 88.5 million acre-feet on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Nearly 74 percent of this water was applied on irrigated horticulture farms in the West, and 74 percent was applied by large-scale irrigated horticulture operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Irrigated horticulture farms in the West applied only about 0.5 million acre-feet of groundwater on irrigated AIO (for both H & NH crops), accounting for 40 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms in the region, but only 1.4 percent of all groundwater applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms in the West. Across the U.S., irrigated horticulture farms applied only about 0.8 million acre-feet of groundwater on irrigated AIO, accounting for 47 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms across the U.S., but only 1.6 percent of all groundwater applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms across the U.S. For both the West and across the U.S., 78 percent of groundwater applied to AIO on irrigated horticulture farms was applied by large-scale farm operations. Irrigated horticulture farms in the West applied only 74.6 thousand acre-feet of water from onfarm surface-water (OnFSW) sources to irrigated AIO (for both H & NH crops), accounting for just 6 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms in the region, but only 1.1 percent of all OnFSW applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms in the West. Across the U.S., irrigated horticulture farms applied 174.3 thousand acre-feet of OnFSW to irrigated AIO, accounting for 10.4 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms for the U.S., but only 1.9 percent of all OnFSW applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms across the U.S. Most of this water, ranging from 68 percent for the U.S. and 72 percent in the West, was applied to AIO by large-scale irrigated horticulture farms. Irrigated horticulture farms in the West applied 666.7 thousand acre-feet of off-farm surface water (OfFSW) to irrigated AIO (for both H & NH crops), accounting for 53.9 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms in the region, but only 2.2 percent of all OfFSW applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms in the West. Across the U.S., irrigated horticulture farms applied 718.5 thousand acre-feet of OfFSW to irrigated AIO, accounting for 42.8 percent of total water applied to all AIO on irrigated horticulture farms for the U.S., but only 2.3 percent of all OfFSW applied to all AIO on all irrigated farms across the U.S. The larger share (70-71 percent) of this water was applied to AIO by large-scale irrigated horticulture farms.

Set H2. Irrigation Characteristics for Horticulture Acres-in-the-Open (AIO) and Square-Feet Area, Total and by Water Source by Farm Size (Tables H2-1 to H2-17)

Horticulture crop-only agriculture can include both AIO and horticulture under protection (HUP). While the water resources used for these activities are important to a region’s agricultural economic base, they generally account for a relatively small share of land and water used within total regional agriculture. Total horticulture crop AIO (both dryland and irrigated) on irrigated horticulture farms accounted for just 0.5 and 0.8 percent of total harvested cropland AIO on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S. in 2013 (269.1 and 629.6 thousand AIO out of 53.2 and 78.7 million AIO for all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). The four largest States for horticulture crop AIO are California, Florida, Michigan, and Texas (together they accounted for 41 percent of 2013 horticulture crop AIO across the U.S.). Nearly 60-62 percent of all horticulture crop AIO on irrigated horticulture farms are on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000), with 76-78 percent on mid-size and large-scale farms (FS ≥ $350,000). However, most of the horticulture crop AIO on irrigated horticulture farms is irrigated―these farms accounted for 258.0 and 524.3 thousand irrigated horticulture crop AIO in the West and across the U.S. in 2013, representing only 0.6 and 0.9 percent of total farm irrigated AIO on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively. The four leading irrigated horticulture crop States (California, Florida, Michigan, and Texas) accounted for 41.3 percent of all irrigated horticulture crop AIO in the U.S. in 2013 (216.4 out of 524.3 thousand acres). Most of these acres, 76-78 percent, were irrigated on larger-irrigated horticulture farms (FS ≥ $350,000).

Total water applied to only horticulture crop AIO represented only 0.6 and 0.7 percent of all water applied to all AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for 445.7 thousand acre-feet out of 72.9 million acre-feet used on all AIO in the West, and 628.1 thousand acre-feet out of 88.5 million acre-feet used on all AIO across the U.S., respectively). About 71 percent of water applied to horticulture crop AIO was applied to irrigated horticulture crops grown in the West. The States accounting for the largest quantity of acre-feet of water used on irrigated horticulture crop AIO included California, Florida, Texas, and Oregon (not Michigan). Again, 76-78 percent of this water was applied to horticulture crop AIO on larger irrigated horticulture farms (FS ≥ $350,000) in the West and across the U.S. Groundwater applied to only horticulture crop AIO accounted for 53.8 and 57.8 percent of all water applied to horticulture crop AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (240.1 and 363.5 thousand acre-feet of groundwater in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Onfarm surface water (OnFSW) applied to only horticulture crop AIO accounted for just 8.9 and 14.1 percent of all water applied to horticulture crop AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (39.7 and 88.7 thousand acre-feet of OnFSW in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Off-farm surface water (OfFSW) applied to only horticulture crop AIO accounted for 37.2 and 28.0 percent of all water applied to horticulture crop AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (166.0 and 176.3 thousand acre-feet of OfFSW in the West and across the U.S., respectively). The western States emphasized using groundwater and OfFSW on horticulture crop AIO, accounting for 66.1 and 94.2 percent of the acre-feet used on AIO for these crops across the U.S. by each water source, respectively. In the eastern States, emphasis was placed on the use of OnFSW to irrigate horticulture crop AIO (these States accounted for nearly 55 percent of the acre-feet of OnFSW used to irrigate horticulture AIO across the U.S.). However, in the West and across the U.S., groundwater accounted for the larger quantity (acre-feet) of water used to irrigate horticulture crop AIO (240.1 and 363.5 thousand acre-feet out of 445.7 and 628.1 thousand acre-feet used on these crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively). This is not surprising given the general views that horticulture crops can involve higher risk production and that groundwater is a more certain water supply than surface water sources.

Total water applied to only horticulture under protection (HUP) represented 4.3 and 8.1 percent of the water applied to all irrigated horticulture crop production in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (19.9 and 55.1 thousand acre-feet for HUP out of 465.6 and 683.2 thousand acre-feet for all horticulture crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively). But, water applied to HUP accounted for only 0.03 and 0.06 percent of total (all) farm water applied [for both (H & NH) crops] for all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. [Note: FRIS reported water applied to HUP crops in gallon units applied to square-feet area under protection. However, for consistency and comparability with all other agricultural water use, gallons of HUP water use here were converted to acre-feet units.] Only 36.2 percent of total water for HUP was applied to HUP crops grown in the West, with most all of the remainder applied to HUP crops in the eastern States (with minor amounts applied to HUP crops in Alaska and Hawaii). Three States (California, Florida, and Texas) accounted for nearly 56 percent of all water applied to HUP crops in the U.S. Most of the water for HUP crops (nearly 80 percent in the West and 60 percent across the U.S.) was applied on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000). Groundwater applied to HUP crops amounted to only 10.7 and 32.3 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [accounting for 4.3 and 8.2 percent of total acre-feet of groundwater applied to all horticulture crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively, and only 0.03 and 0.07 percent of total acre-feet of groundwater applied to all farm irrigation (H & NH crops)]. But, groundwater applied to HUP crops did account for nearly 54 and 59 percent of all water applied to just HUP crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Onfarm surface water (OnFSW) applied to HUP crops amounted to only 3.0 and 10.8 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [accounting for 7.0 and 10.8 percent of total acre-feet of OnFSW applied to all horticulture crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively, but only 0.04 and 0.1 percent of total acre-feet of OnFSW applied to all farm irrigation (H & NH crops)]. However, OnFSW applied to HUP crops did account for 15.1 and 19.5 percent of all water applied to just HUP crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Off-farm surface water (OfFSW) applied to HUP crops amounted to only 6.2 and 12.1 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 [accounting for 3.6 and 6.4 percent of total acre-feet of OfFSW applied to all horticulture crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively, but only 0.02 and 0.04 percent of total acre-feet of OfFSW applied to all farm irrigation (H & NH crops)]. But, OfFSW applied to HUP crops did account for 31.3 and 21.9 percent of all water applied to just HUP crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively.

Total water applied to both horticulture crops on AIO and for HUP (all irrigated horticulture crop production) amounted to 465.6 and 683.2 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for only 0.6 and 0.8 percent of all farm irrigation water applied in the West and across the U.S., respectively). About 68 percent of this water was applied to irrigated horticulture crops grown in the West. Nearly 78 percent of this water was applied to horticulture crops on larger irrigated horticulture farms (FS ≥ $350,000), both in the West and across the U.S. [with 66-69 percent applied on the largest irrigated horticulture farms alone (FS ≥ $1,000,000)]. Total groundwater applied to all horticulture crop irrigation (250.7 and 395.8 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively) accounted for only 0.7 and 0.8 percent of all groundwater applied to all farm crop irrigation in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Most of this groundwater was applied on the largest irrigated horticulture farms in the West (77 percent) and across the U.S. (71 percent). Total onfarm surface water (OnFSW) applied to all horticulture crop irrigation (42.7 and 99.4 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively) accounted for only 0.6 and 1.1 percent of all OnFSW applied to all farm crop irrigation in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Nearly 83 percent of this water in the West (and 70 percent across the U.S.) was applied by large-scale horticulture farms. Total off-farm surface water (OfFSW) applied to all horticulture crop irrigation (172.3 and 188.3 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively) accounted for only 0.6 percent of all OfFSW applied to all farm crop irrigation in the West and across the U.S. in 2013. However, OfFSW applied to horticulture crops in the West and across the U.S. was fairly uniformly distributed between low-sales irrigated horticulture farms (accounting for 39-40 percent) and large-scale irrigated horticulture farms (accounting for about 53 percent). Even so, most (nearly 92 percent) of OfFSW applied to horticulture crops was applied on irrigated horticulture farms in the West.

Set H3. Irrigation Hired/Contract Labor Statistics for All Irrigated Horticulture Farms by Farm Size (Tables H3-1 to H3-5)

Irrigated horticulture uses both hired and contract irrigation labor. Hired irrigation labor was used by only 21.3 and 17.0 percent of all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (2,245 out of 10,531 farms in the West and 5,873 out of 34,569 farms across the U.S.). California, Florida, and Texas accounted for the larger number of irrigated horticulture farms using hired irrigation labor (27 percent) across the U.S. Horticulture farms using hired irrigation labor were fairly evenly distributed between smaller and larger farm size classes. In the West, irrigated horticulture farms used 7.1 million hours of hired irrigation labor, accounting for 57 percent of the hired irrigation labor hours used on these farms across the U.S. in 2013. California, Florida, and Texas accounted for nearly 51 percent of all hired irrigation labor hours used on irrigated horticulture farms. However, most hired irrigation labor hours applied to irrigated horticulture was used on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000), 70–74 percent in the West and across the U.S. Nearly $72.7 and $134.5 million was spent for hired irrigation labor on irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, averaging $32,373 per farm in the West and $22,897 per farm across the U.S. But, average farm hired irrigation labor expenses for irrigated horticulture farms in the West ranged from $8,172 per farm for low-sales farms to $79,416 per farm for large-scale farms. Across the U.S., these costs for irrigated horticulture ranged from $6,314 per farm for low-sales farms to $63,609 per farm for large-scale farms. However, the differences in farm-level hired irrigation labor costs for these farms were due largely to the differences in quantity (hours) of labor used, because per hour labor rates were relatively similar across regions and farm-size classes. Per hour hired irrigation labor rates for irrigated horticulture farms averaged $10.25 in the West and $10.81 across the U.S. in 2013, ranging in the West from $11.43 per hour for low-sales farms to $10 per hour for large-scale farms, and across the U.S. from $11.43 per hour for low-sales farms to $10.63 per hour for large-scale farms.

Contract irrigation labor was not widely used across irrigated horticulture farms. Only 1.7 and 1.2 percent of all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, made use of contract irrigation labor in 2013 (182 out of 10,531 farms in the West and 407 out of 34,569 farms across the U.S.). However, nearly 45 percent of these farms were located in California, Florida, and Texas. In addition, in the West and across the U.S., these farms were fairly evenly distributed between smaller (FS < $350,000) and larger (FS ≥ $350,000) irrigated horticulture farms. In 2013, irrigated horticulture farms spent $9.2 and $12.1 million on contract irrigation labor in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Nearly 77 percent of this cost for the U.S. was associated with irrigated horticulture farms in California, Florida, and Texas. In the West and across the U.S., nearly 70 percent of contract irrigation labor expenditures by irrigated horticulture farms were incurred by large-scale farm operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000). These costs averaged $50,457 per farm in the West and $29,634 per farm across the U.S., but ranged from $7,434 per farm for low-sales farms to $73,354 per farm for large-scale farms across the U.S., to as high as $95,719 per farm for large-scale farms in the West. [FRIS did not report on the hours of contract irrigation labor used by horticulture farms, so hourly expense rates for this activity were unavailable.]

Section III. Summarized Characteristics for Only Horticulture Under Protection (HUP) Farms

Set HUP1. Aggregate Irrigated Farm Values for Horticulture Under Protection (HUP) Farms by Farm Size (Tables HUP1-1 to HUP1-11c)

For FRIS, horticulture under protection (HUP) crops were reported to include any irrigated nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, mushrooms, propagative materials, food crops under protection, or other horticulture crops where each were grown under glass, rigid plastic, plastic film, and including "tunnel" protection and hoop houses. In 2013, 59.1 and 71.6 percent of all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, were HUP farms (6.2 and 24.8 thousand HUP farms out of 10.5 and 34.6 thousand irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Irrigated HUP farms also accounted for only 3.7 and 10.8 percent of all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively. A third (33.8 percent) of all U.S. HUP farms were in six States (California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania). Most HUP farms, 79 percent in the West and 83 percent across the U.S., were smaller irrigated farms (FS < $350,000), with better than two-thirds among the smallest (low-sales) irrigated farms (FS < $150,000). Irrigated HUP farms generated $4.7 and $12.1 billion in farm production sales in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for 68 and 73 percent of farm production sales for all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, and 4.8 and 8.8 percent of farm production sales for all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). About 60 percent of all farm production sales for HUP farms in 2013 occurred in the 31 Eastern States. However, the five leading States (in terms of production sales value)―California, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas―accounted for nearly 46 percent of all HUP production sales value for 2013. Different from the farm-size distribution of HUP farms, most HUP farm production sales were by large-scale operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000), 85.4 percent in the West and 77.2 percent across the U.S. HUP farm production sales value averaged $754,394 per farm in the West and $487,590 per farm across the U.S. This average ranged from $32.6 thousand to $5.8 million per farm for low-sales and large-scale HUP farm operations, respectively, in the West; and from $39.0 thousand to $4.7 million per farm for low-sales and large-scale HUP operations, respectively, across the U.S.

The area for horticulture crops grown under protection is measured in square-feet units. Most all HUP was irrigated, more than 99.8 percent, but a minor amount was not irrigated. Irrigated HUP crops were grown on 464.6 million and 1.4 billion square feet in the West (33.2 percent) and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. The two dominant States (in terms of square feet) were California and Florida, accounting for 43.5 percent of all irrigated HUP square feet for the U.S. A large majority of this square-feet, 76.4 percent in the West and 58.1 percent across the U.S., occurred on large-scale HUP farm operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000).

In addition to the square-feet area for horticulture crop production, HUP farms also produced farm production from acres in the open (AIO). While FRIS did not separately identify farm production value for these activities, the analysis here identified the relative size of this activity from FRIS information on the quantity of acres devoted to AIO on HUP farms. These farms accounted for nearly 1.0 million total farm AIO in the West and about 2.6 million total farm AIO across the U.S. (about 29.2 and 43.8 percent of total farm AIO on all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively; but only about 0.5 and 1.2 percent of total farm AIO on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). The four States leading in all farm-level AIO on HUP farms included California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas (accounting for 36.7 percent of all HUP farm AIO). In the West, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of this HUP farm AIO was associated with large-scale farm operations, but more evenly distributed between low-sales and large-scale operations (37.3 and 41.2 percent, respectively) for HUP farm AIO across the U.S. HUP farms also used pastureland AIO, 0.5 and 0.8 million acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 23.9 and 31.5 percent of pastureland AIO on all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively; and 0.5 and 0.7 percent of pastureland AIO on all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Nearly 58 percent of this HUP farm pastureland AIO was in three States, California, New Mexico, and Texas; and 56 percent across the U.S. and 80 percent in the West was on large-scale HUP farm operations. HUP farms also irrigated crop AIO (both horticulture and non-horticulture crops), including 148.8 and 357.5 thousand AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 26.7 and 32.6 percent of all irrigated horticulture AIO in the West and across the U.S., respectively; and 0.4 and 0.6 percent of farm irrigated AIO for all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). About 45 percent of this HUP farm irrigated AIO was in four States, California, Florida, Georgia, and Oregon; and 78 percent in the West and 68 percent across the U.S. was on large-scale HUP farms.

Total water (from all sources) applied to only square feet of HUP amounted to 6.5 billion gallons in the West and 17.6 billion gallons across the U.S. in 2013. This quantity of water is equivalent to 19.8 and 54.4 thousand acre-feet for the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 4.3 and 8.0 percent of water applied to all irrigated horticulture in the West and across the U.S., respectively; and to just 0.03 and 0.06 percent of water applied to all irrigation in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Nearly 62 percent of total HUP water applied in 2013 occurred in just five States, California, Florida, Texas, Oregon, and Alabama. About 80 percent of this water was applied on large-scale HUP farms in the West, and 60 percent across the U.S. Farm water (from all sources) was also applied to AIO on HUP farms, accounting for an additional 276.1 and 415.3 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (representing 59.3 and 60.8 percent of all water applied on all irrigated horticulture in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Nearly 71 percent of this water for the U.S. was applied to AIO on HUP farms in six States (California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oregon, and Texas). In addition, most of the water applied to HUP farm AIO was applied on large-scale operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000), both in the West (81 percent) and across the U.S. (76 percent).

Groundwater applied to only square feet of HUP amounted to 3.5 billion gallons in the West and 10.5 billion gallons across the U.S. in 2013. This quantity of water is equivalent to 10.7 and 32.3 thousand acre-feet for the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 4.3 and 8.2 percent of groundwater applied to all irrigated horticulture in the West and across the U.S., respectively; and to just 0.03 and 0.07 percent of groundwater applied to all irrigation in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Three States, California, Florida, and Oregon accounted for 59 percent of this HUP applied groundwater across the U.S. Again, about 80 percent of this groundwater was applied on large-scale HUP farms in the West, while these farms accounted for 56 percent of applied HUP groundwater across the U.S. Groundwater was also applied to AIO on HUP farms, representing an additional 139.2 and 229.3 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for 55.5 and 57.9 percent of all groundwater applied on all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Nearly 74 percent of the groundwater for HUP AIO was applied in six States (California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oregon, and Texas). Most of the groundwater used on HUP farm AIO, 85 percent in the West and 79 percent across the U.S., was applied on large-scale HUP farm operations.

Onfarm surface water (OnFSW) applied to only square feet of HUP amounted to 1.0 billion gallons in the West and 3.5 billion gallons across the U.S. in 2013. This quantity of water is equivalent to 3.0 and 10.7 thousand acre-feet for the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 7.0 and 10.8 percent of OnFSW applied to all irrigated horticulture in the West and across the U.S., respectively; and to just 0.04 and 0.1 percent of OnFSW applied to all irrigation in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Four States (California, Connecticut, Florida, and North Carolina) accounted for nearly 55 percent of HUP applied OnFSW across the U.S. (with Florida alone accounting for nearly 35 percent). Consistent with HUP groundwater use, most HUP OnFSW was applied on large-scale farms, 82 percent in the West and 63 percent across the U.S. OnFSW was also applied to AIO on HUP farms, representing an additional 36.0 and 75.9 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for 84.2 and 76.3 percent of all OnFSW applied on all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). About 72 percent of OnFSW for HUP AIO was applied in nine States (California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia). Most of the OnFSW used on HUP farm AIO was applied on large-scale HUP farms, 77 percent in the West and 70 percent across the U.S.

Off-farm surface water (OfFSW) applied to only square feet of HUP amounted to 2.0 billion gallons in the West and 3.7 billion gallons across the U.S. in 2013. This quantity of water is equivalent to 6.2 and 11.4 thousand acre-feet for the West and across the U.S., respectively (accounting for 3.6 and 6.1 percent of OfFSW applied to all irrigated horticulture in the West and across the U.S., respectively; and to just 0.02 and 0.04 percent of OfFSW applied to all irrigation in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Six States (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia) accounted for 60 percent of HUP applied OfFSW across the U.S. (with California alone accounting for 34 percent). Consistent with other water sources, most HUP OfFSW was applied on large-scale farms, 80 percent in the West and 66 percent across the U.S. OfFSW was also applied to AIO on HUP farms, representing an additional 100.9 and 110.1 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for 58.5 percent of all OfFSW applied to all irrigated horticulture farms in both the West and across the U.S.). About 75 percent of OfFSW for HUP AIO was applied in just two States (California and Oregon), with California alone accounting for nearly 66 percent. The 17 Western States accounted for nearly 92 percent of all OfFSW applied on HUP farm AIO across the U.S. Over 85 percent of the OfFSW used on HUP farm AIO was applied on larger irrigated HUP farms (FS ≥ $350,000), both in the West and across the U.S.

Set HUP2. Horticulture Under Protection (HUP) Farms with Acres in the Open (AIO) by Water Source by Farm Size (Tables HUP2-1 to HUP2-6)

HUP farms also used groundwater to irrigate acres in the open (AIO), 3.5 and 15.0 thousand farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (representing 55.5 and 60.4 percent of all HUP farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). The six States leading in the number of HUP farms using groundwater to irrigate AIO were California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, accounting for 38 percent of all such HUP farms. Two-thirds (65-67 percent) of HUP farms using groundwater on AIO were low-sales irrigated farms. HUP farm AIO irrigated with groundwater in 2013, 85.2 and 201.4 thousand acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, represented 57.3 and 56.4 percent of all HUP farm irrigated AIO in the West and across the U.S., and 31 and 34 percent of groundwater irrigated AIO on all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., as well as 0.4 and 0.5 percent of all groundwater irrigated AIO for all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively. However, the largest share of HUP farm groundwater irrigated AIO occurs on large-scale irrigated HUP farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000).

HUP farms also used onfarm surface water (OnFSW) to irrigate AIO, 859 farms in the West and 4.0 thousand farms across the U.S. in 2013 (representing 13.8 and 16.3 percent of all HUP farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). Six States lead in the number of HUP farms using OnFSW to irrigate AIO (Florida, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington), accounting for 34 percent of all such HUP farms. Nearly two-thirds (63-64 percent) of these HUP farms were low-sales farm operations. HUP farm AIO irrigated with OnFSW in 2013, 19.7 and 86.4 thousand acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, represented 13.3 and 24.2 percent of all HUP farm irrigated AIO in the West and across the U.S., and 40.4 and 41.6 percent of OnFSW irrigated AIO on all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., as well as 0.5 and 1.4 percent of all OnFSW irrigated AIO for all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Again, the largest shares (66-73 percent) of HUP farm OnFSW irrigated AIO occurs on large-scale irrigated HUP farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000) in the West and across the U.S.

HUP farms also used off-farm surface water (OfFSW) to irrigate AIO, 2.6 and 8.7 thousand farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (representing 42.4 and 35.1 percent of all HUP farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). The six States that lead in the number of HUP farms using OfFSW on irrigated AIO included California, Hawaii, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas, accounting for 34 percent of all such HUP farms. About 66-72 percent of these HUP farms were low-sales irrigated farm operations. HUP farm AIO irrigated with OfFSW in 2013, 48.8 and 60.9 thousand acres in the West and across the U.S., respectively, represented 32.8 and 17.0 percent of all HUP farm irrigated AIO in the West and across the U.S., and 18.1 and 18.4 percent of OfFSW irrigated AIO on all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., as well as 0.4 and 0.4 percent of all OfFSW irrigated AIO for all irrigated farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively. However, because of statistical disclosure rules, information on the farm-size distribution of HUP farm OfFSW irrigated AIO for 2013 is unavailable.

Set HUP3. Irrigation Hired and/or Contract Labor Statistics for Horticulture Under Protection (HUP) Farms by Farm Size (Tables HUP3-1 to HUP3-5)

Horticulture under protection (HUP) farms use both hired and contract irrigation labor. HUP farm hired irrigation labor was used on only 19.5 and 16.5 percent of all irrigated HUP farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (1,215 out of 6,223 farms in the West and 4,082 out of 24,764 farms across the U.S.). California, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas accounted for 37.5 percent of the irrigated HUP farms using hired irrigation labor across the U.S. In the West and across the U.S., the number of irrigated HUP farms using hired irrigation labor were fairly evenly distributed across farm size classes.

Irrigated HUP farms used 4.8 and 9.3 million hours of hired irrigation labor in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (accounting for 67 and 75 percent of the hired irrigation labor hours used by all irrigated horticulture farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively). However, most hired irrigation labor hours used by irrigated HUP was applied on large-scale farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000), 71–79 percent in the West and across the U.S. Nearly $47 and $99 million was spent for hired irrigation labor on irrigated HUP farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, averaging $38,196 per farm in the West and $24,222 per farm across the U.S. But, average hired irrigation labor expenses for HUP farms in the West ranged from lower than $19 thousand per farm for smaller farms to $84,845 per farm for large-scale farms. For HUP farms across the U.S., these costs ranged from $5,853 per farm for low-sales farms to $67,057 per farm for large-scale farms. Again, the differences in farm-level hired irrigation labor costs for HUP farms were due largely to differences in quantity (hours) of labor used, because per hour hired irrigation labor rates were relatively similar across regions and farm-size classes. Per hour hired irrigation labor rates averaged $9.76 in the West and $10.64 across the U.S. in 2013, with very small differences across farm-size classes.

Contract irrigation labor was not widely used across irrigated HUP farms. Only 1.3 and 0.9 percent of all irrigated HUP farms in the West and across the U.S., respectively, made use of contract irrigation labor in 2013 (78 out of 6,223 farms in the West and 231 out of 24,764 farms across the U.S.). However, nearly 56 percent of these farms were located in California, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. In addition, in the West, most (76 percent) of the HUP farms using contract irrigation labor were larger irrigated farms (FS ≥ $350,000). But, across the U.S., HUP farms using contract irrigation labor were fairly evenly distributed between smaller (FS < $350,000) and larger (FS ≥ $350,000) irrigated farms. In 2013, irrigated HUP farms spent $4.5 and $6.1 million on contract irrigation labor in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Nearly 50 percent of this cost for the U.S. was associated with irrigated HUP farms in California alone. But, in the West and across the U.S., 87-92 percent of contract irrigation labor expenditures by irrigated HUP farms were incurred by large-scale farm operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000). These costs averaged $57,086 per farm in the West and $26,358 per farm across the U.S., but ranged from a low of $4,134 per farm for low-sales farms to $64,740 per farm for large-scale farms across the U.S. [FRIS did not report on hours of contract irrigation labor used by irrigated HUP farms in 2013.]

Set HUP4. Area (Square Feet) Irrigated by HUP Crop Category by Farm Size (Tables HUP4-1 to HUP4-6)

FRIS reported the square feet under protection for six irrigated HUP crop categories, including floriculture and bedding crops, nursery crops, propagative materials, food crops, mushroom crops, and an all "other" HUP crop category. Floriculture and bedding crops may include ornamental and flowering plants grown for gardens, the floral industry and households; nursery crops can include evergreen/flowering/shade and christmas trees, shrubs, fruit and nut plants, ornamental grasses, woody ornamentals, vines, ground covers, and palms, etc.; propagative materials may include the growth of buds, bulbs, corms, cuttings, layers, pollen, scions, seeds, tissue cultures, tubers, and like structures used in plant reproduction and/or for creating new plants; and food crops grown under protection includes all food crops that were grown in a greenhouse or under some sort of structure that regulated light, shade, temperature, etc.

Irrigated floriculture and bedding crops were grown under 241.2 million square feet of protected cover (equivalent to 5,536.7 acres) in the West, and under 744.6 million square feet of protected cover (equivalent to 17,093.2 acres) across the U.S. in 2013. The two leading States for floriculture and bedding crops under protection in 2013 were California and Florida, accounting for 39.6 percent of the square feet for these crops across the U.S. In the West, most of the square feet for these crops (78 percent) were on large-scale HUP farm operations (FS ≥ $1,000,000), but across the U.S. only 56 percent of the square feet for these crops were associated with large-scale farms (with the remainder fairly evenly distributed across the three smaller farm-size classes).

Nursery crops were grown under 139.1 million square feet of protected cover (equivalent to 3,194.4 acres) in the West, and under 416.6 million square feet (equivalent to 9,564.4 acres) across the U.S. in 2013. The two leading States, California and Florida, accounted for nearly 53 percent of the square feet under protection across the U.S. for these crops. Large-scale HUP farms accounted for most of the square feet for nursery crops, 71 and 65 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013.

Propagative materials were grown under 23.9 million square feet of protected cover (equivalent to 549.5 acres) in the West, and under 64.7 million square feet (equivalent to 1,486.1 acres) across the U.S. in 2013. Three States, California, Florida, and Virginia accounted for 55 percent of the square feet under protection across the U.S. for these materials. Large-scale HUP farms accounted for nearly 84 percent of the square feet under protection used for these materials in the West, and about 60 percent across the U.S.

Horticulture food crops were grown under 41.5 million square feet of protected cover (equivalent to 952.2 acres) in the West, and under 136.6 million square feet (equivalent to 3,136.1 acres) across the U.S. in 2013. Five leading States, California, Florida, Maine, New York, and Pennsylvania accounted for nearly 70 percent of the square feet under protection across the U.S. for these crops. Across the U.S., about 86 percent of the square feet devoted to these crops were fairly equally-distributed between low-sales (FS < $150,000) and large-scale (FS ≥ $1,000,000) HUP farms. In the West, while moderate-sales and large-scale HUP farms accounted for most of the square feet under protection for these crops, specific percentage estimates are unavailable due to potential disclosure issues.

Mushroom crops were grown under 15.4 million square feet of protected cover (equivalent to 353.8 acres) in the West, and under 23.5 million square feet (equivalent to 539.0 acres) across the U.S. in 2013. The four leading States, California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Utah accounted for 79 percent of the square feet under protection across the U.S. for these crops. About 82 percent of this square feet in the West, and nearly 80 percent across the U.S., was on large-scale HUP farms.

The category for all other horticulture crops under protection were grown on 3.4 million square feet (equivalent to 78.5 acres) in the West, and 12.4 million square feet (equivalent to 284.8 acres) across the U.S. in 2013. Four States, California, Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania accounted for nearly 70 percent of the square feet area for these crops. Across the U.S., nearly 60 percent of the square feet under protection for these crops were on low-sales HUP farms. In the West, while 75 percent of the square feet for these crops was associated with moderate-sales and large-scale HUP farms, specific percent distributions are not available due to potential disclosure issues.

Set HUP5. Water Applied (Gallons) on HUP Crops by Irrigation System by Farm Size (Tables HUP5-1 to HUP5-5

FRIS did not report on irrigation water applied to individual HUP crops. It did report on the water applied to all HUP crops, but by irrigation system used to irrigate these crops. For this section, tables HUP5-1 to HUP5-5 summarize the total gallons of water applied to all HUP crops by major irrigation system. [Subsequently (discussed in item 6 below), for ease of comparisons, the water-use statistics for HUP crops by irrigation system were converted to acre-feet equivalent units.]

Using a hand-watering system, 1.3 billion gallons of water were applied to HUP crops in the West in 2013 (accounting for 20 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops in the West), with 3.0 billion gallons applied to these crops across the U.S. (representing 17.1 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops across the U.S.). The six leading States using a hand-watering system to apply water to HUP crops included Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, and Wisconsin (together they accounted for 32 percent of all water applied to HUP crops using hand-watering systems across the U.S.). Most of the water applied to HUP crops using hand-watering systems was on larger HUP farms (FS ≥ $350,000) (79 percent in the West and 68 percent across the U.S.).

Gravity irrigation systems were used to apply just 3.6 million gallons of water to HUP crops in the West in 2013 (accounting for only 0.06 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops in the West). These systems were also used to apply just 49.2 million gallons of water to HUP crops across the U.S. (representing just 0.3 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops across the U.S.). Less than 8 percent of the water applied to HUP crops using gravity irrigation systems occurred in the western States, but nearly 72 percent of this water was applied to HUP crops on low-sales farms in the West. In the eastern States, farm-size distributions of this water was less clear due to disclosure issues. In addition, information on the leading States using gravity systems to irrigate HUP crops was unavailable due to disclosure issues.

Sprinkler irrigation systems were used to apply 2.7 billion gallons of water to HUP crops in the West in 2013 (accounting for 42.4 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops in the West), with 9.8 billion gallons applied to these crops across the U.S. (representing 55.7 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops across the U.S.). The four leading States using sprinkler irrigation systems to apply water to HUP crops included Alabama, California, Florida, and Virginia (together accounting for nearly 62 percent of all water applied to HUP crops using these systems across the U.S.). In the West, nearly 86 percent of the water applied to HUP crops using sprinkler systems occurred on large-scale HUP farms (FS ≥ $1,000,000), but across the U.S., 57 percent occurred on large-scale HUP farms.

Drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray systems were used to apply 2.3 billion gallons of water to HUP crops in the West in 2013 (accounting for 35.3 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops in the West), with 4.2 billion gallons applied to these crops across the U.S. (representing 23.9 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops across the U.S.). The two leading States using these systems to apply water to HUP crops were California and Florida (together accounting for 57 percent of all water applied to HUP crops irrigated with drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray systems across the U.S.). Most of the water applied to HUP crops using these systems occurred on large-scale HUP farms (averaging 84 percent in the West and 70 percent across the U.S.).

Sub-irrigation systems [the use of drainage systems to effectuate the supply of water to a crop root zone by controlling the lowering or raising of sub-soil water-levels] were used to apply 145.8 million gallons of water to HUP crops in the West in 2013 (accounting for just 2.3 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops in the West), with 531.0 million gallons applied to these crops across the U.S. (representing just 3.0 percent of total water applied to all HUP crops across the U.S.). The two States leading using sub-irrigation systems to irrigate HUP crops were California and New York (both accounted for 35.7 percent of all water applied using these systems on HUP crops across the U.S.). In the West and across the U.S., 82-83 percent of the water applied to HUP crops using these systems across the U.S. occurred on large-scale HUP farm operations.

Most water applied to HUP crops occurred using sprinkler or drip/trickle/low-flow/micro-spray irrigation systems (78-80 percent in the West and across the U.S.). Hand-watering systems came in as the third most used irrigation system type for HUP crops (accounting for another 20 percent of HUP irrigation water in the West and 17 percent across the U.S.).

Set HUP6. Water Applied (Acre-Feet Equivalent Units) on HUP Crops by Irrigation System by Farm Size (Tables HUP6-1 to HUP6-5)

Measured in acre-feet equivalent units, and compared to all horticulture or all agriculture water applied, irrigated horticulture under protection (HUP) used relatively small amounts of water, 19.8 and 54 thousand acre-feet in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013 (representing only 4.2 and 7.9 percent of water applied to all horticulture crop production and just 0.03 and 0.06 percent of all agriculture water applied in the West and across the U.S., respectively).

Hand-watering systems were used to apply the equivalent of 3.9 and 9.1 thousand acre-feet of water to HUP crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013. Gravity irrigation systems were used to apply the equivalent of just 12 and 148 acre-feet of water to HUP crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Sprinkler irrigation systems applied the equivalent of 8.4 and 30.2 thousand acre-feet of water to HUP crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Drip/trickle or low-flow/micro-spray irrigation systems were used to apply the equivalent of 7.0 and 12.9 thousand acre-feet of water to HUP crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively. Sub-irrigation systems were used to apply only 449 and 1,635 acre-feet of water to HUP crops in the West and across the U.S., respectively.

Clearly, the vast share of water used for agriculture is associated with irrigation water applied to crop production on acres-in-the-open (AIO), with non-horticulture crop AIO water use accounting for 99.4 and 99.2 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively, in 2013, and horticulture crop AIO water use accounting for an additional minor amount, 0.6 and 0.7 percent in the West and across the U.S., respectively. FRIS data for 2013 seems to suggest that while irrigation efficiency may be important from both economic and resource use/allocation perspectives, conservation-assistance programs are likely to have a greater impact emphasizing improved water-use efficiency across non-horticulture AIO-based crop production (the sector of irrigated agriculture accounting for the much larger share of agricultural water use).