Irrigation in U.S. Agriculture: On-Farm Technologies and Best Management Practices [October 17, 2016] [open pdf - 3MB]
"Recent threats to water availability as a result of moderate to exceptional drought in several states have raised questions about agricultural water use and efficiencies across the United States. An understanding of common irrigation technologies and the impacts of best management practices in irrigation may be useful to Congress concerning potential policy responses to this issue. [...] The federal government performs several roles in assisting agricultural producers with irrigation practices, including financial assistance, technical assistance, research, and monitoring and reporting. The majority of financial and technical assistance is offered through voluntary conservation programs that target increased irrigation efficiency. [...]This raises questions about how and where federal funds are allocated, particularly in areas where water shortages are a concern. [...] The use of irrigation technology and BMPs [best management practices] bring both benefits and costs. The control of water application achieved through irrigation systems can create higher yields and allow the production of higher value crops, while potentially reducing some production costs. The additional cost of installing and maintaining these systems, however, can present a barrier to implementing BMPs. Accounting for variations in the local climate, soil type, water quality, and water availability may also challenge adoption of irrigation technologies and BMPs."
CRS Report for Congress, R44158
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html