Let’s say you’re the desert types. You love the open expanses, the dry heat, the miles of land that stretch to the horizon. You cherish the geologic features and the hearty flora and fauna. Adapting to this type of environment is not a challenge for you, but an exciting opportunity. But then that pesky issue bubbles slowly to the surface…”What if I can’t grow anything? I want land and space to build a home, but I’d also love a garden and the ability to sew some crops and feed my family.” Well, land-seekers, fear not. Even though it may seem difficult—and just plain unsustainable—it is possible to irrigate land in dry climates sustainably. Just don’t be like all those golf courses in Pheonix, Arizona, watering their greens at high noon in 100-degree heat. (Watering during the day is a silly idea for the simple fact that much of the water will evaporate before being absorbed into the soil, making it more expensive for you and more wasteful for the community.)
Let’s use Arizona as an example here. Many folks might think, “The desert equals sand, which means unfertile soil.” Well, yes and no. By weight, Arizona’s soil has approximately 1% organic matter and topsoil averages only about half an inch. But surprisingly, Arizona is no slouch when it comes to agriculture. Mother nature just needs a little bit of a helping hand.
Arizona agriculture is a $9.2 billion industry annually. Says the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, “Most of the state’s farming occurs in the alluvial basins of the Colorado, Salt, Verde and Agua Fria rivers. Massive irrigation projects with dams for water storage in lakes and reservoirs provide a large portion of the water for farming. Arizona has one of the most efficient irrigation networks in the world.”
The top agricultural crops in the state are lettuce, cotton, and hay, while cattle, calves, and the dairy products produced thereby are the most valuable farm commodities. Yet hogs, sheep and lambs, and laying hens (producing upwards of 5.8 billion eggs annually) round out the livestock market in the region.
While Arizona may not appear to be agriculturally friendly, it is quite the opposite. With roughly 260 sunny and clear days of the year, deep freezes of crops are largely unheard of and livestock are able to roam outdoors without the threats of severely cold temperatures. If you’re looking to set up a ranch, farm, or other form of agriculturally minded operation, consider checking out Arizona land for sale. Just please remember these two magic words: drip irrigation!