Nebraska Farmers Told to Stop Irrigation

Nebraska farmers have been directed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources to halt irrigation of their crops due to sudden drops in major rivers and streams across the state. The order puts farmers in a bind, cutting off one of their major sources of water in an ongoing drought and threatening the health of their crops.

Nebraska is one of many states currently locked in the grip of one of the worst droughts since the 1980s. To date, more than 11,000 counties in 26 states have been declared disaster areas. Corn and soybean production have been hit particularly hard, with states across the Corn Belt suffering from severe to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Nebraska is one of those states. With rainfall well below spring and summer averages, Department of Natural Resource officials are nervously watching the rivers. With river levels falling dangerously, officials have ordered an immediate halt to all irrigation done using Nebraska surface water.

It’s not yet clear how this order will affect corn and soybean production, the state’s major crops. Most Nebraska farms draw on well water for irrigation, and are thus exempted from the order. Still, some officials estimate that as much as 30 percent of the state’s corn crop could be at risk if river levels do not rise and the irrigation order remains in place.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer