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Irrigation – Definition, Types, Methods, Advantages

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  • Last Updated : 17 May, 2022

Due to the increasing population size, the requirement for shelter, food, or all other basic essential demands increases, which directly and indirectly affects the crop yield. Due to the increasing demand for food scientists trying to find out new ways to increase crop production. The artificial application of water to the soil or agricultural land is known as irrigation. It is the process of replacing or supplementing rainwater with water from another source. It is utilized in dry places and when rainfall is insufficient. Irrigation systems are designed to aid in the growth of agricultural crops and plants by using the least amount of water possible, preventing soil consolidation, and so on. Irrigation frequency, rate, amount, and time differ for different crops, as well as soil types and seasons. Summer crops, for example, demand far more water than winter crops.

The water scenario is fast changing as a result of increasing population, rising demand for irrigation to raise high-yielding crops, industry, electricity generation, rapid urbanization, the impact of global warming, and fluctuating rainfall. Although India has 15% of the world’s population, it only possesses 4% of the world’s freshwater resources. India has the world’s largest irrigated land, with around 85 percent of total irrigation potential currently developed. The agriculture sector currently consumes over 80% of the country’s water. Furthermore, to produce one unit of food crop, the country consumes 2-3 times more water than major agricultural countries such as China, Brazil, and the United States.

Types of Irrigation

Surface Irrigation

Surface irrigation refers to watering systems that use a gravity-fed, overland flow of water to distribute water to crops. Surface irrigation conveyance and distribution structure date back over 6,000 years, making it one every of humanity’s earliest engineering achievements.

Localized Irrigation

Localized irrigation systems apply water to where the plant is growing, reducing water loss from the soil through evaporation. Drip irrigation, porous clay pots, porous pipes, and perforated plastic sleeves are examples of localized irrigation methods.

Sprinkler Irrigation

With the help of a pump, a sprinkler irrigation system may apply water under high pressure. It uses a small diameter nozzle in the pipes to discharge rain-like water. Due to the wide range of discharge capacity, water is spread through a system of pipes, sprayed into the air, and irrigated most soil types.

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is the most effective technique for providing water and nutrients to crops with less amount of water loss. It provides water and nutrients straight to the root zone of the plant in precise amounts and at precise times, ensuring that each plant receives exactly what it requires, when it requires it, for optimal growth.

Centre Pivot Irrigation

Center-pivot irrigation, also known as water-wheel or circle irrigation, is a crop irrigation method in which machinery rotates around a pivot while sprinklers wet the crops. Irrigation occurs in a circular region centered on the pivot, which creates a circular pattern in crops when viewed from above.

Sub Irrigation

Sub-irrigation is the technique of dispersing water underneath the soil’s surface with the purpose to give moisture to crops with the aid of using capillary action. In trickle irrigation, water is slowly supplied to each plant via little plastic tubes.

Manual Irrigation

Because it may be done by anyone who is physically capable, manual irrigation is by far the most common kind of irrigation. The farmer circulates water from the plant to the plant with manual irrigation. This requires a lot of effort and time, and it’s usually done with a hose or bucket, so that’s why it is only best for little areas.

Methods of Irrigation

Traditional Methods of Irrigation

In the traditional method, irrigation is done by man force or with the help of animals. A farmer takes water from wells or canals by hand or with the help of livestock and transports it to farming areas. In different places, this procedure may differ. The key benefit of this technology is its low cost. However, productivity from this method is low, because of the more water loss. Pulley systems, lever systems, and chain pumps are examples of traditional systems. The pump system is the most common and commonly used.

Modern Methods of Irrigation

The current method compensates for the shortcomings of traditional systems, allowing for proper water usage. Sprinkler and drip systems are utilized in a current manner.

  • Sprinkler System: A sprinkler system distributes water over the crop to ensure even distribution. In areas where water is scarce, this method is highly recommended. A pump connected to pressure-generating pipes sprays water through the nozzles of pipes.
  • Drip System: The drip system delivers water to the roots one drop at a time through a hose or pipe. This approach can also be employed in areas where there is a scarcity of water.

Advantage of Irrigation

  1. Agriculture suffers from insufficient and unpredictable rainfall. Low rainfall results in droughts and famines.
  2. In comparison to unirrigated land, irrigated land has better productivity.
  3. Multiple cropping is not viable in India because most locations have their own rainy season. The climate, on the other hand, favors cultivation all year.
  4. Irrigation has aided in the cultivation of the majority of the fallow land.
  5. Irrigation has helped to stabilize output and yield levels.
  6. Irrigation increases water supply availability, which increase crop yield.

Conceptual Questions

Question 1: What is irrigation?


Irrigation is the practice of supplying water to land at regular intervals via canals and other artificial means in order to promote agricultural growth.

Question 2: Different types of irrigation?


Sprinkler irrigation, surface irrigation, drip irrigation, sub-irrigation and manual irrigation.

Question 3: Different types of modern irrigation?


Sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation are examples of modern irrigation systems; ancient irrigation methods include manual irrigation, in which farmers draw water from wells and canals to irrigate the field.

Question 4: Define micro-irrigation?


Micro-irrigation is the frequent application of small amounts of water directly above and below the soil’s surface in the form of discrete or continuous drips through water emitters.

Question 5: What is basin irrigation?


Basin irrigation divides the land into basins. It has a more straightforward design than the furrow and border.

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