|Irrigated Agriculture: Technologies, Practices, and Implications for Water Scarcity|
In the United States, irrigation accounts for more than 40 percent of freshwater use. Several areas in the nation are both heavily irrigated and considered water stressed. Farmers can select irrigation technologies and water conservation practices to better manage freshwater, an increasingly limited natural resource. Farmers have access to multiple irrigation technologies that could increase efficient use of water. Irrigation technologies include micro irrigation, which applies small amounts of water close to the plants; sprinkler systems, which spray water through nozzles; and gravity systems, where water floods the field or runs down furrows. In addition, practices such as irrigation scheduling may help farmers avoid over-irrigation. Farmers can also use precision agriculture technologies, such as soil moisture sensors, computer or smartphone decision support tools, and remote control of irrigation equipment to help optimize irrigation scheduling.