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Agricultural Water

[Horticulture - University of Kentucky]

- Overview

Water is an important input to agricultural production and plays an important role in food security. Irrigated agriculture covers 20 percent of the total arable land and accounts for 40 percent of global food production. On average, irrigated agriculture is at least twice as productive per unit of land as rainfed agriculture, allowing for greater production intensification and crop diversification.

Agricultural water is water used to grow fresh produce and feed livestock. Agricultural water makes it possible to grow fruits and vegetables and raise livestock, which make up a major part of our diet. Agricultural water is used for irrigation, external application of pesticides and external application of fertilizers, crop cooling (e.g. light irrigation) and frost control. 

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), irrigation accounts for nearly 65 percent of the world's freshwater withdrawals, excluding thermal power generation. There are 330 million acres of land in the United States used for agricultural purposes, producing an abundance of food and other products.


- Hydrology

Hydrology is the study of water and the water cycle, focusing on surface water and groundwater on land. Hydrologists study the hydrological cycle, how water interacts with the environment, including how it moves from the Earth's surface. 

This includes understanding the natural movement of water, as well as human impacts on water resources and quality. A good understanding of the hydrological cycle is important because many industries depend on a sustainable supply of clean water.


Ray of Sunshine_060623B
[Ray of Sunshine - Viking]

- Water Management

Water management is the control and flow of water resources to minimize damage to life and property and to maximize efficient beneficial use. Good water management of dams and levees can reduce the risk of harm from flooding. Irrigation water management systems make the most efficient use of finite agricultural water supplies.

Drainage management deals with water budgeting and analysis of surface and subsurface drainage systems. Sometimes water resource management involves changing practices, such as groundwater withdrawal rates or the allocation of water to different uses.


- Agricultural Water Management

Agricultural water management (AWM) seeks to use water in a way that provides crops and animals the amount of water they need, enhances productivity, and conserves natural resources for the benefit of downstream users and ecosystem services.



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