Agricultural Economics Department
agricultural economics, irrigation, ranch economics
To determine whether irrigation development in western South Dakota is economically worthwhile, one must consider the stabilization effects it would have on the ranching economy of the area. Irrigation development is going forward. The Angostura Unit on the Cheyenne River is now partially irrigated. Additional water for the long established Belle Fourche Project has been made available from the Keyhole Dam in Wyoming. The Bureau of Reclamation has extensive plans for pump irrigation along the Missouri River and its tributaries. The Oahe Dam is under construction. Proposed irrigation of 750,000 acres from water impounded by this dam greatly overshadows all previous irrigation developments in South Dakota. The Shadehill Dam on the Grand River has been completed. Investigations to determine the feasibility of irrigation in the Oahe area and from Shadehill Dam are under way. These developments require large outlays of public funds, and their effects touch not only the people in the area but their neighbors, the state, and the nation. In western South Dakota less than 10 percent of the farms and ranches have some irrigation, according to the 1950 Census of Agriculture. Some of this land is irrigated from streams, small private reservoirs, or wells. Other land is irrigated by water made available by large government-sponsored irrigation developments such as the Belle Fourche project. A few farmers and ranchers have feed bases on such projects even though their main unit is some miles away. But 90 percent of the operators in western South Dakota have no irrigation.
South Dakota State State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Agricultural Experiment Station
Schutz, W., "Effects of Irrigation on an Adjoining Ranch Economy" (1955). Agricultural Experiment Station Circulars. 112.