What is irrigation? A short answer to this question would be “a system or process in which water is added to soil in order to promote the growth of plants.”
However, there are more facts you need to know to get an in-depth understanding of what it really means. Through this article, we will provide you with the types and methods of irrigation.
What Is Irrigation?
Irrigation is the technique of adding water artificially to plants when rainfall is insufficient to ensure a stable crop supply. It is most commonly utilized in locations with variable or insufficient rainfall to maintain life.
Water is necessary for the growth and survival of plants because it helps pull nutrients into their systems, which enables photosynthesis. If farmers were unable to water their crops or a plant was unable to obtain water from another source, the plant would grow dehydrated, wilt, and ultimately die.
What is a watering system? When an irrigation system is in place, a water source, such as a river or man-made reservoir, is given to plants through a network of canals, tubes, or other conveyances. Irrigation systems are essential because they provide plants with a constant and uniform supply of water.
In Egypt and Mesopotamia, where rainfall was unreliable and floods was prevalent, the oldest known usage of irrigation date back to roughly 6000 BCE. Without this method, it is probable that life could not have persisted in these locations.
Traditional irrigation techniques included excavating moats, utilizing a pulley or lever system, and utilizing water wheels to convey river water to crops. Traditional techniques of irrigation are no longer practical due to the fact that they are time-consuming, labor-intensive, and create undesirable runoff.
Delivering an excessive amount of water to crops, so depleting local water supplies quicker than they can be refilled.
Irrigation is the conveyance of water to plants. Irrigation is often seen in most yards. Landowners use sprinklers to supply an even amount of water to their grass and other vegetation to maintain its health, simulating rain.
Methods & Types of Irrigation
Traditional irrigation techniques laid the framework for future advancements in agriculture. As technology advanced, farmers began to experience increased crop yields and improved overall productivity.
Newer irrigation techniques have been beneficial since they meet the unique watering demands of each crop, can be adapted to the terrain where farming is taking place, and balance the local climate to make agriculture more profitable.
Traditional irrigation techniques date back to around 6000 BCE. The water wheel was among the first means of transporting water to plants.
Irrigation may be utilized in a variety of contexts for varied purposes. For instance:
Each year, communities along the Yellow River face unexpected floods, but receive little other precipitation. Irrigation provides plants with water from the river when no other water is available.
Northern Africa has a severe environment that is both hot and arid. Infrequent rainfall evaporates rapidly unless it originates from a bigger source.
Both wheat and cotton are water-intensive crops. Even if they are cultivated in locations with frequent rainfall, there is not enough of a continuous flow to sustain regular growth.
The Midwestern United States is a rather arid region with a paucity of rivers. Man-made water sources hold the vital element for plant life, and it is distributed consistently to crops as needed.
Agricultural technology have developed and progressed to aid in the production of more efficient agricultural yields. These advancements facilitate the cultivation of crops in various places and approaches. Surface irrigation, targeted irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, and sub-irrigation are some examples.
Surface irrigation is one of the earliest and most fundamental methods of irrigation. The transfer of water to crops overland by gravity, such as via a river or moat, does not require any specialized technology. The majority of surface irrigation occurs in sloping locations where water may naturally flow downward.
In many instances, a naturally flowing water source (such as a river) or an artificial water reserve (such as a basin) is diverted away from the source by means of tiny canals. Some farmers opt to cultivate crops beside rivers to avoid constructing more canals.
Surface irrigation, like most types of irrigation, has both advantages and downsides. Although this form of irrigation may be advantageous for beginning farmers, other ways of irrigation have been demonstrated to be more effective. Some benefits and drawbacks of surface irrigation include:
- Highly efficient (above ninety percent)
- Significant water conservation
- Farmers may irrigate twice as much land.
- Low filtering
- Initially more expensive than surface irrigation
- tubes require some maintenance
- accumulation of natural salinity
The method of providing water to plants using pipes and tubes is known as localized irrigation. This is a more direct and controlled method of delivering a continuous stream of water to plants, albeit it requires more modern equipment than surface irrigation.
Unlike surface irrigation, subsurface irrigation is controlled by humans. Localized irrigation is also known as “micro-irrigation” since it is more human-managed than other kinds of irrigation, which may be more mechanized.
Primarily utilized in Brazil, the United States, and Italy. There are several forms of localized irrigation, including as drip irrigation and trickle irrigation, and this collection of techniques has both benefits and drawbacks.
A localized water system consists mostly of a water supply, a filtration system, pipes or main lines with valves, sub-lines to smaller portions of crops, and a distributor. With these components, farmers may manage the amount of water given to plants and the pressure at which the water is received.
Drip irrigation is a localized irrigation method. A network of regulated pipelines and valves send water directly to the plant.
Drip irrigation is the most frequent kind of localized irrigation. A modest flow rate of water is dripped onto the surface of the soil or at the root of the plant during this procedure. Typically, it is accomplished through tiny holes in a plastic pipe that has been installed close to the crop.
This enables for the conservation of both water and fertilizer during plant growth. This is one of the most efficient methods for producing fruits, plants, and trees, and it may be found in locations where water is expensive or inconsistently available.
Sprinkler irrigation is one of the simplest and most prevalent types of irrigation in the world, and it is often seen on farms, lawns, and fields. It is also known as “spray irrigation.” Sprinkler irrigation is designed to provide water to plants in a manner that simulates rainfall. Either water is fired into the air or sprayed from a nozzle, and it showers upon the plants due to the force of gravity.
Rotary irrigation is the most common type of sprinkler irrigation, in which a stationary nozzle rotates mechanically to water crops. This is typically used to maintain the health of lawns.
On farms, other forms of sprinkler irrigation, such as central pivot irrigation and lateral move irrigation, are more prevalent. Sprinkler irrigation, like other techniques of irrigation, has benefits and limitations that distinguish it from other approaches.
Sprinkler irrigation is also referred to as spray irrigation. Typically, homeowners irrigate their lawns with rotational irrigation. Farmers utilize other means to distribute water in a rainlike manner.
Central Pivot Irrigation
Central pivot irrigation is a type of sprinkler irrigation that is more common on farms than on residential lawns. It is frequently utilized in flat regions, particularly in the United States. A system of overhead sprinklers stand on a central platform and travel in a circular pattern over the field using this technology.
Typically, central pivot irrigation systems consist of one or two towers constructed of pipes and a framework topped by an emitter and a distributor. The systems are mobile and may be carried on wheels. They may be adjusted to any crop height, and the water flow can be regulated by the rotational speed. Central pivot irrigation is a precise and dependable technique of crop watering.
Lateral Move Irrigation
Farmers also have the option of utilizing lateral motion irrigation systems, which are effective but less convenient. They need extra labor since farmers must physically move the gadget or use a machine specialized to move these components.
Lateral motion systems are not anchored in place and must be moved in the same direction at a steady pace. These systems must be refilled with a hose whenever they run out of water, whereas other techniques are fed directly from a source. They are constructed similarly to central pivot irrigation systems and supply water precisely to plants.
Sub-irrigation is the regulated application of water through the controlled elevation of the water table beneath the plants. As a result, plants have better access to water. A water table is the interface between saturated water and the subsoil. The technique is employed most frequently in regions with high water tables where drainage may be better managed.
A multitude of pumping stations, pipelines, valves, canals or ditches, and floodgates are required to run sub-irrigation systems. The primary risk with sub-irrigation is that crops may become overwatered or flooded, but there are additional benefits that make this kind of crop watering attractive to farmers.
Flood irrigation is a subset of sub-irrigation that is deserving of note. This is one of the earliest irrigation techniques, however it is not necessarily the most dependable. In the early days of irrigation, rivers would naturally overflow and give an overabundance of water to farms, resulting in the death of most crops.
When crops are overwatered, nutrients are leached from the plants rather being transported to the stems. There are more efficient ways to cultivate crops that do not put them in as much risk, despite the fact that technological advancements have made flood irrigation safer.
Problems with Irrigation
There are a variety of irrigation techniques that farmers may employ to increase the yield of healthy crops. Irrigation is an excellent means for farmers to accomplish this objective. However, irrigation as a whole has its own unique difficulties. These consist of:
Crop contamination: disease transported by water to the crops or excess nutrients leaching into other water sources.
Competition for water rights: The decision of which nation has parts of a water supply on a political level (Example: Euphrates River)
Droughts are the shortage of water in a region due to insufficient precipitation or inadequate water sources.
Delivering an excessive amount of water to crops, so depleting local water supplies quicker than they can be refilled.
These are some of the few remaining problems to irrigation, however it should be emphasized that they are far less prevalent than in the past. Contamination of crops may be the worst of the remaining threats to plants, animals, and humans.
The competition over water rights is a persistent issue that is frequently addressed amicably, despite the fact that violence has erupted due to this resource. Now, more than ever, irrigation can be better managed, making agriculture an increasingly efficient enterprise.
Irrigation systems consist of a supply of water and a network of canals or tubes. Egypt and Mesopotamia were the early civilizations to utilize irrigation, beginning approximately 6000 BCE.
Water is required for plant growth and photosynthetic activity. In locations where rainfall or other water sources are unreliable, irrigation is employed.
Moats, pulley or lever systems, and water wheels were among the traditional means of irrigation. Due to the labor-intensive nature of traditional techniques, their reliability in the current day is diminished.
Surface irrigation transports water from a water source to plants through canals using the force of gravity. It is one of the least expensive and low-maintenance ways to water plants.
Pipes and tubes are used to transport water to crops in localized irrigation. Drip irrigation is a regulated kind of localized irrigation in which water is supplied gently onto the surface of the soil or near the roots of plants.
Sprinkler irrigation is the most often employed method of irrigation. In this technique, water is sprayed up or showered down from a nozzle to simulate rainfall and distribute water evenly.
Two types of sprinkler irrigation are central pivot irrigation and lateral move irrigation. They may be initially expensive, but they provide healthy and productive agricultural harvests.
Subirrigation is the process of providing water to plants by increasing the subsurface water table. It is utilized in places with a high water table that can be better managed.
In addition to agricultural pollution, competition for water supplies, droughts, and over-irrigation are obstacles to irrigation. However, improved technologies are improving the management of these issues.
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