New Del. Study Points to Benefits of Irrigation - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Del. Study Points to Benefits of Irrigation

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)
DOVER, Del.- A new survey of Delaware cropland finds irrigation can increase grain production and profitability even in a near-ideal growing season, the state Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday.

The Department of Agriculture said new data provided by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service revealed that Delaware's farm fields that used irrigation in 2013 produced 27 percent more corn per acre on average than non-irrigated fields.

Irrigated acres produced 40 bushels of corn per acre more than non-irrigated ones, or 189 bushels for irrigated land compared to 149 bushels for non-irrigated land, according to the survey.

"Irrigation is an incredibly valuable tool that can help increase economic stability and improve profits even in a record-setting corn yield year like 2013," said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee. "This data shows how an initial investment can make yields more predictable and let farmers influence production in periods of drought."

Kee noted that irrigation also has environmental benefits, making crops more efficient in the uptake of nutrients so they don't stay in the soil during dry weather and then add to nutrient loading during the wet fall and winter months.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the data is the first time Delaware has compared yields for irrigated and non-irrigated corn. Of the 174,000 acres harvested for corn for grain in 2013, 43 percent - or 75,000 acres - were irrigated, the data shows. About 57 percent, or 99,000 acres, were not irrigated.

The survey also shows that Delaware corn producers saw a record average yield of 166 bushels per acre in 2013, beating the previous record of 162 bushels per acre, in 2000.

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