Natural Gas Price Impact on Irrigated Agricultural Water Demands in the Texas Panhandle Region

Briget Guerrero, Stephen Amosson, Thomas Marek, Lal Almas


Rising natural gas prices led to a noticeable decrease in irrigation; however, the magnitude of the reduction in water pumped is unknown. The objective of this study was to estimate reduction in irrigation water pumped resulting from high natural gas prices in the Northern Texas High Plains.  Farm Service Agency irrigated acreage data were utilized to analyze eight major crop categories. The years having a January natural gas price below $3.00 were grouped as “low price years” and years above $3.00 were designated “high price years”.  These groups were evaluated for changes in crop composition and abandonment.  In addition, four years of Agri-Partner demonstration data with comparable variance in natural gas prices and rainfall totals during the summer crop growing season were used to estimate change in water use by crop.   Overall, water pumped for irrigation in the Northern Texas High Plains was estimated to decrease 17.8 percent from low to high natural gas price years. Of this total decrease, changes in crop composition accounted for 2.3 percent, crop abandonment for 4.1 percent and the remaining 11.4 percent attributed to lower water use by crop.  Reduction in water pumped over a 60-year planning horizon was computed at 13.9 million acre-feet.


economics; natural gas; irrigation water demand

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