Irrigation Essentials

According to a 1996 survey by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, 8.1 million acres of cropland are irrigated in the state. Nebraska ranks second nationally after California in the number of acres of irrigated land. According to the University of Nebraska's Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, corn is grown on about 70 percent of the irrigated acres.

Pivot_ma.gif (25818 bytes)Merrick County had the most irrigation wells, 4,273, in 1997. In land area, Hamilton County has the most acres under irrigation, 272,000, followed closely by Dawson County with 268,000 acres and York County with 260,000 acres.

Historically, Nebraska irrigators relied on electricity and diesel fuel to power more than 60 percent of the irrigation systems. The balance of the systems are fueled by natural gas, propane and gasoline.

In the past eight years, the Energy Office has financed more than $5 million for 319 energy efficiency projects on irrigation systems located across the state. The improvements have varied from installation of low-pressure pivots and conversion of high-pressure to low pressure pivots, to replacement of existing pumps and motors.

Irrigation projects have been financed by the Energy Office in nearly half of the state's 93 counties. Irrigation system improvements in just five counties have accounted for half of all the financing, $2.55 million. In order, the top five counties are:

1) Lincoln, $726,394

2) Keith, $673,425

3) Perkins, $509,411

4) Chase, $340,544

5) Frontier, $301,076


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