Agriculture Water Use

Project Dates

Agriculture accounts for roughly 80 percent of water consumption in Arizona and an even higher percentage in New Mexico. This means that small changes in irrigation water use has large implications for water available for other uses (domestic, commercial, industrial, and environmental). State and local agencies require information on factors that affect agricultural water use in order to adjust to climate change and drought.

CLIMAS researchers conducted statistical analysis of the 1998 and 2003 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Surveys (FRIS) of the USDA Census of Agriculture. The FRIS reports cross-tabulated data on water use, production decisions, and irrigation practice and technology. In Arizona and New Mexico, over 700 farms and ranches accounting for 54 percent of irrigated acreage were surveyed directly. The sampling design allowed responses to be expanded to state-level estimates. Using categorical data analysis techniques, we examined how the use of publicly and privately supplied information for water management, barriers to adopting more efficient irrigation practices, and participation in government water conservation programs varied by farm size and by state.