Mapping Changing Cropping Patterns In The State Of Arizona And Their Connection To Groundwater Regulation And Water Availability.

Presenter: Matthew Ford1
Co-Author(s): D. Tadych
Advisor(s): Dr. L.E. Condon
1Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona

Panapto Presentation Video
Poster PDF
Poster Session 2

Arizona is a unique place with over 300 sunny days per year and an average temperature of 75℉. The combination of predictable climate, mild temperatures for much of the year, abundant sunshine, and fertile soil make Arizona an attractive location for farming. However, due to its aridity, Arizona agriculture relies almost exclusively on irrigation via surface water deliveries and groundwater pumping. Surface water deliveries are limited to areas near the Colorado River, Central Arizona Project (CAP), and the few perennially flowing river systems in the state. On the other hand groundwater is more widely accessible and is used in other areas of the state which don’t have access to surface water. We present a retrospective analysis of cropping patterns across the state of Arizona using satellite data from the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA NASS) to determine crop type and location. Then, we determine relationships between cropping patterns, water sources, and regulations using spatial mappings of surface water availability and groundwater regulation. Results show that crop irrigated acreage is increasing outside of groundwater regulated regions. High water intensity crops like hay and trees are being moved to unregulated areas in order to avoid limits on the amount of water farmers can pump for irrigation. With surface water cutbacks on the Colorado River and CAP imminent, the risk of unsustainable pumping to irrigate water intensive crops can have profound impacts on groundwater levels in Arizona.

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