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Agricultural irrigated land-use inventory for Polk County, Florida, 2016

August 16, 2017

An accurate inventory of irrigated crop acreage is not available at the level of resolution needed to better estimate agricultural water use or to project future water demands in many Florida counties. A detailed digital map and summary of irrigated acreage was developed for Polk County, Florida, during the 2016 growing season. This cooperative project between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Office of Agricultural Water Policy of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is part of an effort to improve estimates of water use and projections of future demands across all counties in the State. The irrigated areas were delineated by using land-use data provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, along with information obtained from the South and Southwest Florida Water Management Districts consumptive water-use permits. Delineations were field verified between April and December 2016. Attribute data such as crop type, primary water source, and type of irrigation system were assigned to the irrigated areas.

The results of this inventory and field verification indicate that during the 2016 growing seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter), an estimated 88,652 acres were irrigated within Polk County. Of the total field-verified crops, 83,995 acres were in citrus; 2,893 acres were in other non-citrus fruit crops (blueberries, grapes, peaches, and strawberries); 621 acres were in row crops (primarily beans and watermelons); 1,117 acres were in nursery (container and tree farms) and sod production; and 26 acres were in field crops including hay and pasture. Of the total inventoried irrigated acreage within Polk County, 98 percent (86,566 acres) was in the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the remaining 2 percent (2,086 acres) was in the South Florida Water Management District.

About 85,788 acres (96.8 percent of the acreage inventoried) were irrigated by a microirrigation system, including drip, bubblers, and spray emitters. The remaining 3.2 percent of the irrigated acreage was irrigated by a sprinkler system (2,360 acres) or subsurface flood systems (504 acres). Groundwater was the primary source of water used on irrigated acreage (88 percent, or 78,050 acres); the remaining 10,602 acres (12 percent) used groundwater combined with surface water as the irrigation source.

The irrigated acreage estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for this 2016 inventory (88,652 acres) is about 11 percent higher than the 79,869 acres estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 2012. Citrus and pasture in Polk County show the biggest difference in irrigated acreage between the USGS and USDA totals. Irrigated citrus acreage inventoried in 2016 by the USGS totaled 83,996 acres, whereas the USDA reported 78,305 acres of citrus in 2012. The USGS identified 6 acres of irrigated pasture and 20 acres of hay, whereas the USDA reported 6,631 acres of irrigated pasture and 1,349 acres of hay for 2012. In general, differences between the 2016 USGS field-verified acreage totals and acreage published by the USDA for 2012 could be due to (1) irrigated acreage for some specific crops increased or decreased substantially during the 4-year interval between 2012 and 2016 because of production or economic changes, (2) the assumption that if an irrigation system was present, it was used in 2016, when in fact some landowners may not have used their irrigation systems during this growing period even if they had a crop in the field, or (3) the amount of irrigated acreage published by the USDA for selected crops may be underestimated as a result of how information is obtained and formulated by the agency during census compilations.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Agricultural irrigated land-use inventory for Polk County, Florida, 2016
DOI 10.3133/ofr20171082
Authors Richard L. Marella, Darbi Berry, Joann F. Dixon
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2017-1082
Index ID ofr20171082
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization FLWSC-Orlando

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