To battle dry conditions, many farmers rely on irrigation systems to provide water to grow their crops. However, Georgia farmers only slightly increased their irrigation usage during the recent drought, according to University of Georgia Extension Service experts.
Between 1998 and 2000, the number of irrigated acres in the state
increased about 2 percent, according to the UGA Extension Service
2000 Irrigation Survey. Georgia now has about 1.5 million acres
of irrigated farmland -- a 31,000-acre increase since the last
survey in 1998.
The recent increase is modest compared to the mid-`80s and
During that period, irrigated acreage grew about 20 percent each
year, said Kerry Harrison, an irrigation engineer with the UGA
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Farmers do consider periods of drought when planning their
management. However, Harrison doesn't expect a dramatic increase
in irrigated acres in the future, despite the current
The reason is simple economics.
"We've about irrigated all the land in the state that is
profitable for the farmers," Harrison said.
Half Wet, Half Dry
According to the survey, about half of the total crop acreage
in Georgia is under some type of irrigation system. About 75
of these systems are center pivots, which are larger systems that
rotate in a circle in the field.
It's no surprise that two-thirds of the irrigation used in
goes toward watering major state crops, such as corn, cotton and
peanuts. But vegetables had the largest increase in irrigated
acreage. Since 1998, irrigated vegetable acreage increased 70
percent, helping Georgia become one of the leading vegetable
All commercially grown vegetables in Georgia are irrigated. Most
farmers use a drip
system for vegetable production. A hose with tiny holes is buried
inside the vegetable bed. As water is piped through the hose,
drops of water drip out watering the plants.
Harrison said the move towards more irrigated vegetables will
continue. With major commodity prices low, many farmers are
to find ways to make their land profitable, and established
farmers are growing more acres.
"Farmers are branching out into new areas," Harrison
said. "They are looking at alternative crops like some
vegetables: crops that are as profitable on the same or less
The water sources for irrigation systems continue the same trend
as in the past. Ground water supplies about 61 percent and
water about 38 percent of the agriculture water in the state.
The other 1 percent comes from wastewater sources.
The irrigation survey was conducted by county Extension agents
in all of Georgia's 159 counties.
Parents, it's time for a plan: Operation Candy Ration Posted on 10/19/18
When it comes to Halloween treats, self-restraint from your child and yourself can be tricky, but it may be necessary.