Agriculture on the American Plains has been constrained historically
by water scarcity. Post-WWII technologies enabled farmers over the
Ogallala aquifer to extract groundwater for large-scale irrigation.
Comparing counties over the Ogallala with nearby similar counties,
groundwater access increased agricultural land values and initially
reduced the impact of droughts. Over time, land use adjusted toward
water intensive crops and drought sensitivity increased. Viewed differently,
farmers in nearby water-scarce areas maintained lowervalue
drought-resistant practices that fully mitigate naturally higher
drought sensitivity. The evolving impact of the Ogallala illustrates
the importance of water for agricultural production, but also the
large scope for agricultural adaptation to groundwater and drought.
Hornbeck, Richard, and Pinar Keskin.
"The Historically Evolving Impact of the Ogallala Aquifer: Agricultural Adaptation to Groundwater and Drought."
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: U.S.; Canada: 1913-
Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
Renewable Resources and Conservation: Water
Climate; Natural Disasters; Global Warming