Agricultural Conservation

Agriculture in Texas

Agriculture has always been one of the mainstays of the Texas economy. It is, in fact, the second largest industry in the state, generating about $85 billion a year.

Along with agriculture’s dedicated producers and Texas’ diverse climate, one of the state’s most valuable resources fuels this impressive productivity: water. Irrigated agriculture is Texas’ single greatest water consumer and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. It currently uses about 9 million acre-feet annually on over 6 million acres. Most of that water, 73 percent, is groundwater.

For the 2012 State Water Plan, the regional water planning groups recommended conservation strategies to help slow the pace of increasing water demand in their regions. By 2060, agricultural water conservation strategies are projected to result in a savings of 1.4 million acre-feet of water annually, a significant portion of the state’s water supply.

The following are recommended water management strategies:

  • irrigation water use management, such as irrigation scheduling, volumetric measurement of water use, crop residue management, conservation tillage, and on-farm irrigation audits;
  • land management systems, including furrow dikes, land leveling, conversion from irrigated to dry land farming, and brush control/management;
  • on-farm delivery systems, such as lining of farm ditches, low pressure center pivot sprinkler systems, drip/micro irrigation systems, surge flow irrigation, and linear move sprinkler systems;
  • water district delivery systems, including lining of district irrigation canals and replacing irrigation district and lateral canals with pipelines; and
  • miscellaneous systems, such as water recovery and reuse.