Protecting waterways is essential—not just for human life, but plant and animal life as well—and improving water quality is a critical goal for all farmers and ranchers. In many ways, farmers have introduced the greatest technological and technical innovations to conserve water. Over-irrigating or irrigating at the wrong time during the growth of a plant can reduce yield. Additionally, irrigation is expensive—whether that’s using electricity or fuel to power the water pumps, or funds to maintain water rights, using water is costly, and farmers and ranchers are incentivized to use less. According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, farmers used roughly four percent less water for irrigation in 2013 as they did in 2008. Farmers are developing new techniques to conserve water and get better return with what water they do use.
In addition, farmers and ranchers are implementing new techniques to avoid water runoff that may cause harmful levels of chemicals, fertilizers or manures to enter local waterways on and around their farms and ranches. By managing how – and how much – runoff is occurring, farmers and ranchers are doing their part to protect our waterways.