It was announced a few weeks ago that Alabama will receive funding for a new project through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program. The Irrigation Efficiency Project is a new multi-year project that will provide a PL 566 Watershed plan to address irrigation needs in Alabama watersheds that have high potential of irrigation success. Studies conducted by the Alabama Irrigation Initiative, which includes land-grant institution Auburn University and other partners, show that irrigation or the lack thereof has been the main contributor to the historical decrease in agricultural crop production in Alabama. Less than 10 percent of Alabama’s cultivated cropland is irrigated and less than 2% of Alabama farmland is irrigated.
According to the Alabama Irrigation Initiative, if the state could provide only its own corn needs, it would have a $690 million direct rural impact and boost the local rural economy over $1.8 billion. If 50% of Alabama’s current row crop acreage were irrigated, the statewide impact would be over $200 million per year.
The project’s implementation will include water resource management practices such as center pivots, irrigation reservoir, micro-irrigation, pipeline, pump plant, and wells. NRCS will work with the project’s sponsor, The Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) and the Alabama Irrigation Initiative to address these irrigation needs.
To learn more about the Irrigation Efficiency Project, contact your local NRCS office.