Alberta leads nation in irrigated acres

Alberta has the most farming acres under irrigation in the country, according to data recently released by Statistics Canada.

Alberta producers irrigated 1.21 million acres of farmland in 2016, representing 71 percent of irrigated land in Canada.

Nationally, about 1.7 million acres of farmland are irrigated, which is 18 percent more than irrigated land reported in 2014.

Across Canada, most irrigated acres are in field crops with 955,149 acres, followed by 583,522 acres in forage crops. Irrigated vegetables accounted for 97,332 acres, and irrigated fruit made up 66,007 acres.

Alberta’s irrigation volume was up 13 percent from 2014 to 1.4 billion cubic metres in 2016.

Most farmers rely on off-farm sources for irrigation water, which accounts for 70 percent of irrigation water used, according to Statistics Canada. Most is supplied by provincial sources, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where 96 percent and 88 percent, respectively, come from provincial authorities.

However, in Eastern Canada, most irrigation water derives from on-farm surface water: 84 percent in Quebec and 80 percent in Ontario.

Manitoba’s total area under irrigation for all crops in 2016 was 80,037 acres, an increase from 48,852 in 2014, or almost 64 percent.

In Saskatchewan, 97,285 acres of all crops were grown under irrigation, which is the same number as 2014.

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