For this study, we assessed crop insurance data over the period of 1989 – 2017 to better understand agricultural risk in the Ogallala aquifer region. During this timeframe, indemnities, or insurance payments, totaled $22 billion for the 161 counties overlying the Ogallala aquifer. Not surprisingly, drought, hail, and heat were the leading causes of crop loss for the region. These causes of loss varied over space and time. For example, indemnities for hail were larger and more typical in the northern counties, with the same being true but for drought indemnities in the southern Ogallala region. Drought and excess moisture showed significant increasing loss cost trends in the western counties of the Ogallala. In contrast, hail showed significant decreasing trends in the northern and eastern portions. This exercise in looking at crop insurance loss data helps reveal divergent patterns of risk at seasonal and county-​levels, and links long-​term weather trends with near-​term decision making.

Publication: Reyes, J., E. Elias, E. Haacker, A. Kremen, L. Parker, and C. Rottler (2020). Assessing agricultural risk management using historic crop insurance loss data over the Ogallala aquifer. Agricultural Water Management Volume 232, 1 April 2020, 106000.

This article is part of a special issue titled “Managing the Ogallala” published by Agricultural Water Management that was guest edited by Ogallala Water team members Ryan Bailey, Meagan Schipanski, and Isaya Kisekka.

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