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Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station)

Abstract

Irrigation in the humid and semihumid sections of the United States has increased manyfold since World War II. Before this, irrigation was confined principally to the more arid western states. Some of the reasons for the spread to more humid areas were the development of portable lightweight aluminum pipe and couplers, moderately high farm prices, occurrence of several drouthy seasons, increased use of fertilizers and development of better crop varieties. Drouths in various portions of the state in 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 have prompted many farmers to buy irrigation equipment. A 1953 survey in Iowa showed that only 55 farmers were irrigating about 3,600 acres. Twenty-two of these farmers were in Muscatine County where irrigation is used on vegetable crops. Two years later, in 1955, another survey indicated that 250 farmers were irrigating approximately 15,000 acres.

Indications are that irrigation will continue to increase, particularly along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Along the Missouri River there are about 600,000 acres of bottomland. Most of this area needs better surface drainage. Without too much additional cost, land which is surface drained can be shaped for surface irrigation. Because of good ground water supplies, this area has a high irrigation potential. These conditions also exist to a more limited extent along other major Iowa streams.

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