Study shows irrigation boosts state's economy

NORFOLK - The ability of farmers and ranchers to irrigate Nebraska crops contributed $11 billion to Nebraska's economy last year.  That finding comes through a new study chartered by the Nebraska Farm Bureau to identify the importance of water for irrigation during one of the worst droughts in the state's history. 

    Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson says the study, conducted by the Des Moines research firm Decision Innovation Solutions, provides an estimate of the total impact that irrigated agriculture had on the Nebraka economy in 2012.  The state's irrigated corn yields averaged 190 bushels oan acare, compared to average dryland yields of 58 bushels an acre. 

     The study showed that Nebraska would have had about 31,000 fewer jobs without irrigation.  Every inch of water placed on an acre of cropland generates roughtly $100 of economic benefit to the state.  Nebraska has the highest level of acerage under irrigation among all states with 8.4 million acres of irrigated cropland.