Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (July 2011)


Published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics. Copyright © [2011] Board of Regents, University of Nebraska.


When I joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty in 1976, Nebraska had 5.5 million irrigated acres, irrigated corn yields averaged 115 bushels per acre, irrigation water was worth $25 per acre per year, center pivot irrigated land was selling for $1,000 per acre, net farm income averaged $0.8 billion per year and both groundwater pumping and nitrogen fertilization practices were unrestricted. Today as I prepare to retire, Nebraska has 8.5 million irrigated acres, irrigated corn yields average 186 bushels, irrigation water is worth more than $100 per acre per year, pivot irrigated land is selling for over $4,000 per acre, net farm income is averaging over $3.0 billion and we are carefully managing the quantity and quality of our groundwater resources. All Nebraska citizens should be proud of this success story. Somehow, we have managed to simultaneously produce economic prosperity and improved natural resource management.