Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics, March 23, 2022


Copyright 2022 University of Nebraska.


Crop prices and energy prices can affect the water level in an aquifer? Absolutely, yes, because over time, they affect the amount withdrawn for irrigation. Our recent research confirms that effect and provides estimates of the size of the effect on the High Plains Aquifer (HPA). The HPA underlies parts of eight states and 208 counties in the west-central United States (see Figure 1). This region produces more than 9% of US crop sales and relies on the aquifer for irrigation. These withdrawals for irrigation have contributed to a diminished stock of water in the aquifer that varies considerably across counties, as indicated in the figure. Our research examined the relative contributions of prices and weather on HPA groundwater levels (Silva, et al, 2019). Since that article was published, petroleum price has increased by about 90% and the average of corn, soybean and wheat prices have increased by about 80%. Here we report how those price changes and climate change could be expected to affect groundwater levels in the HPA over the next decades.