Thanks to a solid economy, increasing crop prices and growth in the housing market, 2006 was a strong year for the irrigation industry. The Irrigation Association anticipates another strong year in 2007, with an increased focus on conservation and agriculture.
“There are going to be more and more outside limitations, either by water providers or governments, to the freedom to use water,” says Tom Kimmell, senior projects manager for the Irrigation Association. “Regulation hasn’t impacted our industry that much, but it will in the long term.”
Some say the weakening housing market could affect the turf and landscape aspect of the irrigation industry, with Commerce Department figures showing home construction late in 2006 at its lowest level in almost eight years.
“The landscape is usually one of the last things completed on a new home, so there is a lag time before a slowdown in housing begins to show in the results of the irrigation manufacturers, distributors and contractors,” says Jeff Carowitz of Strategic Force Marketing.
Still, irrigation is most affected by changes in the high-end housing market, as well as commercial construction, which is on an upswing in most communities, Kimmell says. Tom Barrett, marketing vice president for The Kenney Corporation in Indianapolis, says contractors can prepare for changes in the market by focusing more on conservation and by participating in regional groups and associations.