Renata Rimšaitė, a postdoctoral research associate with DWFI and the National Drought Mitigation Center, collaborated on an assessment conducted by the Headwaters Corporation on behalf of the Irrigation Association and the Irrigation Innovation Consortium, which measured the economic impact of the irrigation industry in the United States in 2020.
The study found that the industry has been growing by 2% per year since 2010. It also found the industry has a direct economic impact of nearly $9 billion and indirect impacts of $23.3 billion, creating more than 70,000 direct jobs — 167,000 jobs when secondary impacts are included. The study includes agricultural, commercial, residential, and horticultural irrigation and provides an update on the industry’s growth since a similar study completed in 2010.
Gathering information for the assessment presented a challenge, as much of the data is not publicly available. However, the study was able to reveal industry trends by using economic analysis tools to piece together publicly available data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and conversations with industry members.
According to the Irrigation Association, quantifying the economic impact of the irrigation industry is important in order to document irrigation’s output, increase its credibility and provide insights for business planning.
“This assessment provides a tool for the irrigation industry to show that they are not just implementing water-conserving technology,” said Rimsaite, “but are valuably contributing to the economy as well.”
A summer irrigation lab and field course led by DWFI Faculty Fellow Derek Heeren helps his students ground their class lessons through in-person farm and industry visits.
Graduate student Caner Zeyrek and his advisor, Troy Gilmore, are learning a lot about Nebraska’s water flows.
Since it was initiated in 2014, the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute’s student support program has made more than 96 awards to DWFI Faculty Fellows supporting students and invested $3.6 million.