Farm & Ranch August 2019

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAP

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24, 2019

‘Mind the gap’ between irrigated and rain-fed By SCOTT SCHRAGE UNL Communications LINCOLN — A 65-year comparative analysis ences in food produced with irrigation versus rainfall alone — generally wid- ened over that span, a trend they suspect stems part- time, differed substantially among the crops and the re- gions that grew them. “You get more yield from irrigated than rain-fed Engineering. “It’s not sur- prising that as precipitation increases, the yield gap de-

Nebraska-Lincoln’s Suat Irmak and Meetpal Kukal analyzed the annual yields of nine crops — corn, soy- bean, spring wheat, winter wheat, sorghum, cotton, bar- ley, oats and alfalfa — on a county-by-county basis from 1950 to 2015. Irmak and Kukal found that the yield gaps — differ-

creases. But that also has spatial and temporal at- tributes, so it’s not really constant in all regions or for all crops.” Irrigation most benefited Please see GAP, Page D

between U.S. yields of irri- gated and rain-fed crops has sounded a message to farm- ers, land managers and policymakers: Mind the gap. The University of

ly from climate change and technological advances in ir- rigation management. But the rates at which those gaps widened, and how consistently they did so over

(agriculture), but the mag- nitude of yield increase is a function of several vari- ables,” said Irmak, Eberhard Distinguished Professor of Biological Systems

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