Previous research on agriculture in the American Southwest focuses overwhelmingly on archaeological survey methods to discern surface agricultural features, which, in combination with climatological, geological, and geographical variables, are used to create models about agricultural productivity in the past. However, with few exceptions, the role of floodplain irrigation and floodwater farming in ancestral Pueblo agriculture is generally downplayed in scholarly discourse. Using a variety of methods, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), satellite imagery, pedestrian survey, and supervised classification of remotely sensed imagery, we examine this issue through a consideration of how ancestral Ohkay Owingeh (Tewa) people solved the challenges of arid land farming in the lower Rio Chama watershed of New Mexico during the Classic period (A.D. 1350–1598). Based on acreage estimates, our results indicate that runoff and rainwater fields in terrace environments would have been insufficient to supply the nutritional needs of an ancestral Tewa population exceeding 10,000 individuals. Based on these observations, we present a case for the substantial role of subsistence agriculture in the floodplain of the Rio Chama and its associated tributaries.