Water’s Importance in Agriculture

Saturday, April 6, 2019
The canal system with Bennett Mountain in the background showing low elevation snow pack. (photo by Brad Stokes-UI Extension)

Water is a simple molecule chemically speaking, made up of only two small hydrogen atoms and one large oxygen atom. It’s unique properties and polarity are important in all aspects of life. All carbon life forms require water to sustain life, including plants. This is especially true in the agricultural sector of our local, regional and state economy.

Everybody knows that plants need water, it is essential for photosynthesis – the process plants use to synthesize food (e.g. sugars) from carbon dioxide and especially water. Plants are autotrophs, meaning they derive all of their energy from simple organic compounds and chemicals. Water is an essential chemical to the process of photosynthesis. Plants take up water from their root hairs, along with macro and micronutrients that are found in our soil or that are added as fertilizer to help our valuable crops grow to their maximum potential.

Our agricultural producers rely heavily on the availability of water in Elmore County. Numerous farms pump water directly from the Snake River to their fields or from underground wells on their private property. Additionally, many land/homeowners also have underground wells to support their water needs throughout the year. These wells tap into our aquifer systems, which have been depleting. In order to grow a successful crop in the southwestern Idaho desert during the hot summer the plants need water. It is a scarce resource that often flows by Elmore County via the Snake River or south fork of the Boise River. On colder years with a lot of low elevation snow pack, much like this last winter there may be an abundance of water stored in this snow pack, as the spring warms up it is released from the Bennett Mountain Hills directly into the Snake River Basin, escaping Elmore County.For the full story, pick up a copy of the Mountain Home News or click on this link to subscribe to the newspaper's online edition.

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