Irrigation and Agriculture
The Boise River and its companion aquifer support a multi-million dollar agricultural industry in Ada and Canyon Counties. Approximately half of the land in the Treasure Valley is irrigated agriculture, and of this, approximately 65 percent is irrigated with water diverted from the Boise River and distributed through an extensive series of canals. The largest of these is the New York Canal. The canals are operated by a variety of irrigation districts, canal companies and other entities. Ground water from the river’s companion aquifer is also used for irrigation.
Commercial agriculture is an integral part of the state and local economies. Statewide, agriculture provided approximately $1.24 billion in gross wages and $12.19 billion in gross sales in 2006 according to “The Contributions of Agriculture to Idaho’s Economy: 2006,” 2008 by Watson et al. Watson and his coauthors claim that agriculture is the single largest contributor to the Idaho economy enabling total sales of more than $21 billion in 2006.
According to estimates by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), in 2005 the entire state of Idaho used 19.5 million gallons of water per day (Mgal/d) (USGS, 2013).
Ada County was the fifth largest user of irrigation water. Canyon County was 12th. Ada and Canyon counties together accounted for nearly 10 percent of the total water used for irrigation in Idaho (USGS, 2013).
|Geographical Area||Groundwater Withdrawals for Crops (Mgal/d)||Surface Water Withdrawals for Crops (Mgal/d)||Total Irrigation Withdrawals for Crops (Mgal/d)|
Types of Agricultural Products and Acres in Production
The most complete U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) census data detailing the types of agricultural products grown in the vicinity of the Boise River is from 2007. In that year, at least 37 different food crops were reported. The following table shows those crops and the acreage planted of each:
|Beans, Dry Edible, (excluding Lima)||5687||Pears||108|
|Beans, Dry Edible, Lima||643||Peas, Chinese||484|
|Beans, Snap||5||Peas, Dry Edible||1082|
|Cherries, Sweet||669||Plums and Prunes||196|
|Grapes||1162||Tomatoes, in the Open||12|
Quantities of Food Produced
The total value of the crops produced in Ada and Canyon counties was nearly $220 million in 2007. Examples of the quantities produced are:
|Barley||112,610 Bu||Barley||285,043 Bu|
|Beans, Dry Edible (excl. Lima)||12,777 Cwt||Beans, Dry Edible (excl. Lima)||121,787 Cwt|
|Corn, Grain||489,128 Bu||Beans, Dry Edible (Lima)||14382 Cwt|
|Mint, Oil||107,544 Lbs.||Corn, Grain||3,725,464 Bu|
|Oats||7591 Bu||Mint, Oil||740,233 Lbs.|
|Sugar Beets||66,363 Tons||Oats||27,134 Bu|
|Wheat||491,491 Bu||Peas, Dry Edible||27, 005 Cwt|
|Sugar Beets||326,651 Tons|
Wheat alone in these two counties accounted for approximately $14.81 million in sales in 2007 (United States Department of Agriculture, 2013).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that approximately 1,630 farming, fishing and forestry related jobs existed in the Boise-Nampa in May 2012. That is more than a quarter of all farming, fishing and forestry related jobs for the entire state of Idaho, which was 5,680 for that same month (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013).
 Here, “in the vicinity of the Boise River” is defined as those agricultural products that were grown in Ada and Canyon Counties.