Irrigation Techniques

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

Irrigation techniques are various techniques available for the irrigation of land required for different purposes. Irrigation techniques depend on the type of land, type of crop, pattern of the crop, the requirement of water, etc. The irrigation techniques also depend on the availability of water.

Irrigation methods include surface methods, sub-surface methods, sprinkler methods, etc. The article contains fundamental notes on the “Irrigation Techniques” topic of the “Irrigation Engineering” subject.

What are the Irrigation Techniques?

Irrigation techniques are a vital aspect of modern agriculture, providing crops with the necessary water to grow and thrive. There are several irrigation techniques available to farmers, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the most common irrigation techniques is surface irrigation, which involves the application of water to the soil surface. This technique can be accomplished by flooding fields or using furrows, which are small trenches in the soil. Surface irrigation is relatively inexpensive but can be inefficient, as some of the water may be lost to evaporation or runoff.

Another popular irrigation technique is drip irrigation, which involves the application of water directly to the plant’s roots through a network of tubes or pipes. Drip irrigation is highly efficient, as it delivers water directly to the plant’s roots and reduces water loss through evaporation or runoff. However, it can be costly to install and maintain. Sprinkler irrigation is another technique commonly used in agriculture. This technique involves the application of water through a series of sprinklers, which distribute water over the crops in a manner similar to rain. Sprinkler irrigation is versatile and can be used on a variety of crops, but it can be expensive and may result in uneven water distribution.

What are the Subsurface Irrigation Techniques?

Subsurface irrigation techniques involve the application of water beneath the soil surface, where it is absorbed by the plant’s roots. This technique is highly efficient and reduces water loss through evaporation or runoff. However, it can be expensive to install and may require specialized equipment.

In India, the irrigated area consists of about 36 percent of the net sown area. There are various techniques of irrigation practices in different parts of India. These methods of irrigation differ in how the water obtained from the source is distributed within the field. Important concepts related to Irrigation techniques may be questioned in the GATE CE exam.

Factors Depending on Various Irrigation Techniques

Choosing the right irrigation technique depends on various factors, including crop type, soil type, climate, and water availability. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each technique, farmers can make informed decisions and optimize their crop yields. These parameters are explained below:

  • One crucial factor that affects the choice of irrigation technique is the type of soil. Sandy soils, for instance, allow water to percolate quickly, making surface irrigation techniques such as flood and furrow irrigation less effective. In contrast, clay soils tend to hold onto water, making drip irrigation less effective as the water may remain too close to the surface.
  • Another critical factor is the type of crop being grown. Some crops, such as rice, require constant flooding, making surface irrigation the preferred technique. Other crops, such as fruits and vegetables, may require precise application of water directly to the roots, making drip irrigation more suitable.
  • The climate is another significant factor that affects the choice of irrigation technique. In areas with high temperatures and low humidity, sprinkler irrigation may be preferred as it can reduce the temperature and provide some moisture to the air. In contrast, areas with high humidity may require techniques such as drip irrigation to prevent overwatering and related issues such as fungal growth.
  • Water availability is also a crucial factor in selecting an irrigation technique. In areas where water is scarce, techniques such as drip irrigation may be preferred as they are more efficient and use less water. Conversely, areas with abundant water resources may opt for surface irrigation techniques.

Types of Irrigation Systems

Irrigation systems are a vital part of agriculture and farming, as they help in supplying water to crops and plants. There are different types of irrigation systems available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of these irrigation systems are explained below:

  • One of the most common types of irrigation systems is the surface irrigation system, which involves flooding the land with water. This method is often used in areas where water is abundant and is an inexpensive way to irrigate crops.
  • Another type of irrigation system is the sprinkler system, which uses pipes and sprinklers to distribute water over the crops. This method is efficient in terms of water use and can also help in reducing soil erosion.
  • Drip irrigation is another popular method, which involves dripping water directly onto the plant’s roots. This method is highly efficient in terms of water use and can also help in reducing weed growth. However, it requires a high initial investment and can be difficult to maintain.
  • Subsurface irrigation is a lesser-known type of irrigation system, which involves burying pipes underground to deliver water directly to the plant roots. This method is highly efficient in terms of water use and can also help in reducing water loss due to evaporation.

What is Surface Irrigation?

Surface irrigation is a form of irrigation that involves the application of water to the soil surface, which then infiltrates into the soil and is taken up by the plants’ root systems. In this method, water is conveyed to the field by gravity, and the irrigation water is allowed to flow over the soil surface to wet the plants’ root zone.

There are different types of surface irrigation methods, including furrow irrigation, border irrigation, and basin irrigation. Furrow irrigation involves digging small channels, or furrows, between crop rows and allowing water to flow down the furrows and infiltrate into the soil. Border irrigation involves constructing small ridges, or borders, around the crop area and allowing water to flow over the borders and infiltrate into the soil. Basin irrigation involves creating small depressions, or basins, in the field and allowing water to pond in the basins and infiltrate into the soil.

Surface irrigation is commonly used for crops such as rice and wheat. It is a relatively simple and low-cost method of irrigation, but it can be less efficient than other methods such as drip irrigation or sprinkler irrigation. Surface irrigation can result in water loss due to runoff, deep percolation, and evaporation. However, proper management practices, such as proper land leveling, soil preparation, and water application timing, can improve surface irrigation efficiency and reduce water waste.

Advantages of Irrigation Techniques

Irrigation is an essential process for agriculture as it provides water to crops, which is crucial for their growth and yield. There are various irrigation techniques that farmers can use, each with its own advantages. In this note, we will discuss the advantages of different irrigation techniques.

  1. Drip Irrigation: This technique involves providing water to plants drop by drop, directly to the roots. The main advantage of drip irrigation is that it saves water and it eliminates wastage due to evaporation or runoff. It also helps to reduce the growth of weeds and pests as water is only provided to the plants and not to the surrounding area.

  2. Sprinkler Irrigation: This technique involves spraying water over the crops. Sprinkler irrigation is beneficial as it covers a large area and provides water evenly, reducing the chances of over or under-watering. It also helps to cool the plants during hot weather, which is beneficial for their growth.

  3. Flood Irrigation: This technique involves flooding the field with water. The main advantage of flood irrigation is that it is a low-cost method and is suitable for areas with low water availability. It is also easy to implement and can be used for different types of crops.

  4. Center Pivot Irrigation: This technique involves rotating sprinklers around a pivot point, providing water to the crops in a circular pattern. The main advantage of center pivot irrigation is that it can cover a large area, making it suitable for large-scale farming. It also helps to reduce water wastage as the sprinklers are positioned close to the ground, reducing evaporation.

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