Types of Irrigation

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

Types of Irrigation depend on several factors including soil characteristics, crop characteristics, etc. Irrigation engineering is one of the important subjects of civil engineering. Irrigation means irrigating a part of the land to grow plants and crops. Efficiencies for irrigation depend on the types of irrigation and the irrigation methods. Different types of irrigation consist of surface irrigation, subsurface irrigation, sprinkler, and drip irrigation.

This article contains all the information about the different types of irrigation and their suitability for different types of crops. These types of irrigation also depend on the availability of water for the locality in which irrigation is required. Let us see various types of irrigation in detail.

What are Different Types of Irrigation?

Irrigation refers to the process of supplying water to crops, plants, or land to help them grow and thrive. There are several types of irrigation methods, each of which is suitable for different types of crops, soil types, and weather conditions. Some of these are explained below:

  • One common type of irrigation is flood irrigation, which involves flooding the fields with water to irrigate the crops. This method is often used for rice paddies and other crops that can withstand being submerged in water for a short time.
  • Another type of irrigation is drip irrigation, which involves dripping water slowly onto the soil near the roots of the plants. This method is more efficient than flood irrigation since it delivers water directly to the plants, reducing water waste and preventing soil erosion.
  • Sprinkler irrigation is another popular method, which involves spraying water over the crops using sprinklers. This method is ideal for crops that require frequent watering and can be used in areas with uneven terrain.
  • Subsurface irrigation involves placing pipes or hoses below the soil surface to deliver water directly to the plant roots. This method reduces water evaporation and is ideal for crops that are sensitive to water stress.
  • Center-pivot irrigation involves rotating sprinklers around a central pivot point to irrigate crops in a circular pattern. This method is efficient and can be used on large farms.

What is Irrigation System?

Irrigation system refers to the process of artificially applying water to the soil for agricultural purposes. It is a vital component of modern agriculture and is essential for the production of crops in regions that receive inadequate rainfall. Irrigation systems can be classified into various categories based on the method of water delivery, including surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation, and sub-surface irrigation.

Surface irrigation involves flooding the field with water, allowing it to infiltrate the soil and reach the plant roots. Sprinkler irrigation, on the other hand, uses mechanical devices to spray water over the crops, simulating rainfall. Drip irrigation is a low-pressure system that delivers water directly to the root zone of the plants, minimizing water loss through evaporation and runoff. Sub-surface irrigation involves applying water below the soil surface through buried pipes or tubes.

Irrigation systems are crucial for improving crop yields, enhancing food security, and reducing the impact of droughts on agricultural production. However, they require careful planning, design, and management to ensure optimal water use efficiency and prevent waterlogging, salinization, and other negative environmental impacts.

Classification of Irrigation

Irrigation is the process of supplying water to plants, crops or any other vegetation through artificial means to promote their growth and productivity. There are several types of irrigation methods that can be classified based on the type of application, the nature of the crops, and the availability of water resources.

One way to classify irrigation is based on the method of application. Surface irrigation, as the name suggests, involves the application of water to the surface of the soil, while subsurface irrigation involves the application of water below the surface of the soil. Sprinkler irrigation involves the use of overhead sprinklers that spray water over the crops, while drip irrigation involves the slow and targeted application of water directly to the roots of the plants.

Another way to classify irrigation is based on the nature of the crops being irrigated. For instance, flood irrigation is used mainly for rice cultivation, while furrow irrigation is commonly used for row crops. Similarly, drip irrigation is preferred for fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, while center-pivot irrigation is commonly used for large-scale cultivation of field crops like wheat and maize.

Irrigation can also be classified based on the availability of water resources. In areas where water is abundant, flood irrigation may be used, while in arid regions, drip irrigation or sprinkler irrigation may be preferred. Similarly, in regions with limited water resources, techniques like rainwater harvesting and micro-irrigation may be employed to conserve water and make the most efficient use of available resources.

The classification of irrigation methods depends on several factors, including the type of crop, the availability of water resources, and the climate and geography of the region. By understanding the different types of irrigation methods and their applications, farmers and growers can make informed decisions about the most appropriate irrigation techniques to use for their crops and ensure optimal growth and productivity.

Methods of Irrigation

Methods of irrigation refer to the various techniques and systems used to deliver water to crops or agricultural lands. Irrigation is an essential agricultural practice that helps in improving crop yields, especially in areas where rainfall is inadequate or erratic. There are many methods of irrigation, including:

  1. Surface Irrigation: In this method, water is distributed over the soil surface, and it infiltrates into the soil. The water can be applied through flooding or furrow irrigation, where water is delivered through channels or furrows. This method is commonly used for crops such as rice, wheat, and maize.

  2. Sprinkler Irrigation: Sprinkler irrigation involves the use of sprinkler heads that spray water over the crop area, simulating rainfall. This method is suitable for crops such as vegetables, fruits, and flowers, as it provides uniform water distribution and reduces water wastage.

  3. Drip Irrigation: Drip irrigation is a method where water is delivered directly to the plant roots through a network of tubes and emitters. This method is efficient in water conservation as it reduces water evaporation and minimizes weed growth. It is commonly used for crops such as grapes, bananas, and strawberries.

  4. Subsurface Irrigation: Subsurface irrigation involves delivering water to the roots of plants through underground pipes or tubes. This method helps to conserve water by reducing evaporation and minimizing soil erosion. It is commonly used for crops such as sugarcane and citrus.

  5. Center Pivot Irrigation: Center pivot irrigation involves a large sprinkler system mounted on a pivot that rotates around a central point. The system delivers water to the crops in a circular pattern, allowing for efficient water distribution. This method is commonly used for crops such as corn and soybeans.

Comparison between Gravity Irrigation and Lift Irrigation

Gravity irrigation and lift irrigation are the types of irrigation, that are classified based on the methods for which water is reachable to the crops. The comparison between these two can be done as follows.

Lift irrigation

  • Costly means of irrigation
  • Less manorial silt in the water
  • Working dependent on the operation of machinery
  • Higher water rates.

Gravity flow irrigation

  • Cheapest means of irrigation
  • Silt in water has a manorial value
  • Lifting equipment is not involved
  • Lowest water rates
  • Simple and economical system of irrigation.

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