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Water Management: Priority for Farmers

Every summer Cotton Farming takes a closer look at a topic that never seems to go out of date. It’s as relevant today as it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The circumstances have changed, but the message is still the same. Water management and the need for reliable water supplies are becoming even more critical for today’s cotton farmers. We can blame the lack of water on a lot of things – climate change, urban versus rural populations or lack of stewardship. Fact is, farmers can’t produce crops without this precious resource.

The good news, as you’ll find out in this month’s magazine, is that cotton producers have been doing their part to protect and manage water for a long time. Maybe the general public isn’t aware of this trend, but that’s where our industry has a good story to tell. For those persons living in the West or Southwest, it’s hard not to notice how farmers have had to adjust to challenging scenarios.

In California and Arizona, a serious drought continues to plague both states. Water allocations were drastically reduced in California, causing many farmers to make hard decisions about what crops they’ll continue to grow. In Arizona, different regions in the state have dealt with droughts for nearly 16 years. But, just like their farmer friends in California, the folks in Arizona are employing irrigation technology and conservation measures to find a way to “do more with less water.”

Hopefully, some dreaded water restrictions won’t become even more severe as the battle rages on about who has priority on water from sources such as the Colorado River. For that reason, ag leaders in both states won’t give up the fight to protect farmers’ access to these water sources.

In the Southwest – and primarily Texas – this is the fourth year some kind of drought has affected agriculture. Granted, much-needed rain occurred in parts of the state in early June, and it rescued the High Plains, which was in dire need of moisture to get this year’s crop started on time. However, the water crisis is still with us and hasn’t gone away.

As you’ll see in our cover story on pages 10, 11 and 12, organizations such as the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC) are taking an active role in helping farmers employ the best possible water conservation practices while protecting the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies the irrigation water for the High Plains. A spirit of cooperation and a greater awareness of the overall water issue exists today – no matter what region of the Belt is examined. Farmers are making good use of every drop of water.

In case you were wondering, that is called progress.