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DEFINITION OF IRRIGATION Irrigation is an artificial application of water to the soil usually for assisting in growing

crops. In crop production it is mainly used in dry areas and in periods of rainfall shortfalls, but also to protect plants against frost. Additionally irrigation helps to suppress weed growing in rice fields. In contrast, agriculture that relies only on direct rainfall is referred to as rain-fed farming. Irrigation is often studied together with drainage, which is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given area. Irrigation is also a term used in the Medical/Dental fields and refers to flushing and washing out anything with water or another liquid.


TYPE OF IRRIGATION arious types of irrigation techniques differ in how the water obtained from the source is

distributed within the field. In general, the goal is to supply the entire field uniformly with water, so that each plant has the amount of water it needs, neither too much nor too little.


Surface irrigation

Because the "aries#


!e"e! of the ri"er far$ers a!ong the %issouri Ri"er use f!oating &u$&s !i'e this one to co!!ect irrigation ater.


F!oo()to!erant so*+eans fro$ southeastern ,hina

!urface irrigation is defined as the group of application techniques where water is applied and distributed over the soil surface by gravity. It is by far the most common form of irrigation throughout the world and has been practiced in many areas virtually unchanged for thousands of years. !urface irrigation is often referred to as flood irrigation, implying that the water distribution is uncontrolled and therefore, inherently inefficient. In reality, some of the irrigation practices grouped under this name involve a significant degree of management "for e#ample surge irrigation$. !urface irrigation comes in three ma%or types& level basin, furrow and border strip

a) Basin Irrigation

'evel basin irrigation has historically been used in small areas having level surfaces that are surrounded by earth ban(s. )he water is applied rapidly to the entire basin and is allowed to infiltrate. *asins may be lin(ed sequentially so that drainage from one basin is diverted into the ne#t once the desired soil water deficit is satisfied. A +closed, type basin is one where no water


is drained from the basin. *asin irrigation is favored in soils with relatively low infiltration rates "-al(er and !(ogerboe ./01$. 2ields are typically set up to follow the natural contours of the land but the introduction of laser leveling and land grading has permitted the construction of large rectangular basins that are more appropriate for mechani3ed broad acre cropping.

*asin irrigation

b) Furro


2urrow irrigation is conducted by creating small parallel channels along the field length in the direction of predominant slope. -ater is applied to the top end of each furrow and flows down the field under the influence of gravity. -ater may be supplied using gated pipe, siphon and head ditch or ban( less systems. )he speed of water movement is determined by many factors such as slope, surface roughness and furrow shape but most importantly by the inflow rate and soil infiltration rate. )he spacing between ad%acent furrows is governed by the crop species, common spacings typically range from 4.15 to 6 metres. )he crop is planted on the ridge between furrows which may contain a single row of plants or several rows in the case of a bed type system. 2urrows may range anywhere from less than .44 m to 6444 m long depending on the soil type, location and crop type. !horter furrows are commonly associated with higher uniformity of application but result in increasing potential for runoff losses. 2urrow irrigation is


particularly suited to broad-acre row crops such as cotton, mai3e and sugar cane. It is also practiced in various horticultural industries such as citrus, stone-fruit and tomatoes.

!pecial furrow systems li(e these enhance water management. -ide-spaced furrows wor( li(e alternative-row irrigation, e#cept that every row is irrigated and the rows are further apart.

c) Ba*-Bor(er Stri& Irrigation

*order strip or bay irrigation could be considered as a hybrid of level basin and furrow irrigation. )he borders of the irrigated strip are longer and the strips are narrower than for basin irrigation and are orientated to align lengthwise with the slope of the field. )he water is applied to the top end of the bay, which is usually constructed to facilitate free-flowing conditions at the


downstream end. 7ne common use of this technique includes the irrigation of pasture for dairy production.

d) Drainage after har"est or in rain* season

Drainage of flooded ban(s or drainage of e#tremely wet soil during the rainy saison may be done by ditches. Drainage by ditches is may be done with crops that require the soil to be wet but not completely saturated "and sometimes, especially not at certain times of year$. An e#ample is blueberries. In the rainy season/winter, they require drier soil

,a&a+i!ities An( .i$itations a/ ,ro& !ome form of surface irrigation is adaptable to most any crop. *asin and border strip irrigation have been successfully used on a wide variety of crops. 2urrow irrigation is less well adapted to field crops if cultural practices require travel across the furrows. *asin and border strip irrigations flood the soil surface, and will cause some soils to form a crust, which may inhibit the sprouting of seeds. +/ Soi!s an( To&ogra&h* !urface irrigation systems perform better when soils are uniform, since the soil controls the inta(e of water. 2or basin irrigation, basin si3e should be appropriate for soil te#ture and infiltration rate. *asin lengths should be limited to 884 feet on very coarse te#tured soils, but may reach .864 feet on other soils. 2urrow irrigation is possible with all types of soils, but


e#tremely high or low inta(e rate soils require e#cessive labor or capital cost ad%ustments that are seldom economical. 9niform, mild slopes are best adapted to surface irrigation. 9ndulating topography and shallow soils do not respond well to grading to a plane. !teep slopes and irregular topography increase the cost of land leveling and reduce basin or border si3e. Deep cuts may e#pose areas of nonproductive soils, requiring special fertility management. :rosion control measures may be required if large stream si3es are used. In areas of high intensity rainfall and low inta(e rate soils, surface drainage should be considered with basin irrigation, to reduce damage due to untimely inundation. c/ 0ater 1uantit* an( 1ua!it* It is important that irrigation stream si3e be properly matched to basin or border si3e for uniform irrigation. !ince inta(e rates for border and furrow systems may vary during the season, it helpful if the water supply rate can be varied from one irrigation to the ne#t. *order and furrow systems are not suitable for leaching of salts for soil reclamation, since the water cannot be held on the soil for any length of time. )he basin method, however, is ideal for this purpose. 9nder normal operating conditions, leaching fractions adequate for salinity control can be maintained with basin, border or furrow irrigation. (/ Efficiencies ;igh irrigation efficiencies are possible with all surface irrigation methods, but is far more easy to obtain these potential efficiencies with the basin method. Design efficiencies for basin systems should be high, perhaps 04-/4<, for all but very high inta(e rate soils. =easonable efficiencies for border strip irrigation are from 14 to 05<, and are >5 to 15< for furrow irrigation. -ith either the border of furrow methods, runoff return flow systems may be needed to achieve high water use efficiencies. )he system designer and operator can control many of the factors affecting irrigation efficiency, but the potential uniformity of water application with surface irrigation is limited by the variability of soil properties "primarily infiltration rate$ throughout the field. 2ield studies indicate that even for relatively uniform soils, there may be a distribution uniformity of infiltration rates of only about 04<. It has been suggested that surface irrigation uniformity


estimates based on infiltration time differences may need to be decreased by 5 to .4< to account for soil variability.

.a+or An( Energ* ,onsi(erations *asin irrigation involves the least labor of the surface methods, particularly if the system is automated. *order and furrow systems may also be automated to some degree to reduce labor requirements. )he complicated ?art? of border irrigation "and to a lesser e#tent furrow irrigation$ requires s(illed irrigators to obtain high efficiencies. )he labor s(ill needed for setting border or furrow flows can be decreased with higher cost equipment. )he setting of siphons or slide openings to obtain the desired flow rate is a required s(ill, but one that can be learned. -ith surface irrigation, little or no energy is required to distribute the water throughout the field, but some energy may be e#tended in bringing the water to the field, especially when water is pumped from groundwater. In some instances these energy costs can be substantial, particularly with low water use efficiencies. !ome labor and energy will be necessary for land grading and preparation.


.oca!i2e( irrigation

'ocali3ed irrigation is a system where water is distributed under low pressure through a piped networ(, in a pre-determined pattern, and applied as a small discharge to each plant or ad%acent to it. Drip irrigation, spray or micro-sprin(ler irrigation and bubbler irrigation belong to this category of irrigation methods.@.1A



Dri& irrigation

Drip irrigation, also (nown as trickle irrigation or icroirrigation is an irrigation method which minimi3es the use of water and fertili3er by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root 3one, through a networ( of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters.

Modern drip irrigation has arguably become the worldBs most valued innovation in agriculture since the invention of the impact sprin(ler in the ./84s, which replaced flood irrigation. Drip irrigation may also use devices called micro-spray heads, which spray water in a small area, instead of dripping emitters. )hese are generally used on tree and vine crops with


wider root 3ones. !ubsurface drip irrigation "!DI$ uses permanently or temporarily buried dripperline or drip tape located at or below the plant roots. It is becoming popular for row crop irrigation, especially in areas where water supplies are limited or recycled water is used for irrigation. Careful study of all the relevant factors li(e land topography, soil, water, crop and agro-climatic conditions are needed to determine the most suitable drip irrigation system and components to be used in a specific installation.


a$ Components "listed in order from water source$

Dump or pressuri3ed water source -ater 2ilter"s$ - 2iltration !ystemsE !and !eparator li(e ;ydro-Cyclone, !creen 2ilter, Media 2ilters

2ertigation !ystems " enturi in%ector$ and Chemigation :quipment "optional$ *ac(wash Controller Main 'ine "larger diameter Dipe and Dipe 2ittings$ ;and-operated, electronic, or hydraulic Control alves and !afety alves !maller diameter polytube "often referred to as ?laterals?$


Doly fittings and Accessories "to ma(e connections$ :mitting Devices at plants "e#. :mitter or Drippers, micro spray heads, inline drippers, tric(le rings$

Fote that in Drip irrigation systems Dump and valves may be manually or automatically operated by a controller.

Most large drip irrigation systems employ some type of filter to prevent clogging of the small emitter flow path by small waterborne particles. Few technologies are now being offered that minimi3e clogging. !ome residential systems are installed without additional filters since potable water is already filtered at the water treatment plant. irtually all drip irrigation equipment manufacturers recommend that filters be employed and generally will not honor warranties unless this is done. 'ast line filters %ust before the final delivery pipe are strongly recommended in addition to any other filtration system due to fine particle settlement and accidental insertion of particles in the intermediate lines.

Drip and subsurface drip irrigation is used almost e#clusively when using recycled municipal waste water. =egulations typically do not permit spraying water through the air that has not been fully treated to potable water standards.

*ecause of the way the water is applied in a drip system, traditional surface applications of timed-release fertili3er are sometimes ineffective, so drip systems often mi# liquid fertili3er with the irrigation water. )his is called fertigation& fertigation and chemigation "application of pesticides and other chemicals to periodically clean out the system, such as chlorine or sulfuric acid$ use chemical in%ector such as diaphragm pumps, piston pumps, or venturi pumps. )he chemicals may be added constantly whenever the system is irrigating or at intervals. 2ertili3er savings of up to /5< are being reported from recent university field tests using drip fertigation and slow water delivery as compared to timed-release and irrigation by micro spray heads.


If properly designed, installed, and managed, drip irrigation may help achieve water conservation by reducing evaporation and deep drainage when compared to other types of irrigation such as flood or overhead sprin(lers since water can be more precisely applied to the plant roots. In addition, drip can eliminate many diseases that are spread through water contact with the foliage. 2inally, in regions where water supplies are severely limited, there may be no actual water savings, but rather simply an increase in production while using the same amount of water as before. In very arid regions or on sandy soils, the tric( is to apply the irrigation water as slowly as possible.

Dulsed irrigation is sometimes used to decrease the amount of water delivered to the plant at any one time, thus reducing runoff or deep percolation. Dulsed systems are typically e#pensive and require e#tensive maintenance. )herefore, the latest efforts by emitter manufacturers are focused toward developing new technologies that deliver irrigation water at ultra-low flow rates, i.e. less than ..4 liter per hour. !low and even delivery further improves water use efficiency without incurring the e#pense and comple#ity of pulsed delivery equipment.

Drip irrigation is used by farms, commercial greenhouses, and residential gardeners. Drip irrigation is adopted e#tensively in areas of acute water scarcity and especially for crops such as coconuts, containeri3ed landscape trees, grapes, bananas, ber, brin%al, citrus, strawberries, sugarcane, cotton, mai3e, and tomatoes.

Garden drip irrigation (its are increasingly popular for the homeowner and consist of a timer, hose and emitter


b) Advantage / disadvantages of drip irrigation

The a("antages of (ri& irrigation are4

Minimi3ed fertili3er/nutrient loss due to locali3ed application and reduced leaching. ;igh water application efficiency. 'eveling of the field not necessary.


Ability to irrigate irregular shaped fields. Allows safe use of recycled water. Moisture within the root 3one can be maintained at field capacity. !oil type plays less important role in frequency of irrigation. Minimi3ed soil erosion. ;ighly uniform distribution of water i.e., controlled by output of each no33le. 'ower labour cost. ariation in supply can be regulated by regulating the valves and drippers. 2ertigation can easily be included with minimal waste of fertili3ers. 2oliage remains dry thus reducing the ris( of disease. 9sually operated at lower pressure than other types of pressurised irrigation, reducing energy costs.

The (isa("antages of (ri& irrigation are4

:#pense. Initial cost can be more than overhead systems. -aste. )he sun can affect the tubes used for drip irrigation, shortening their usable life. 'ongevity is variable.

Clogging. If the water is not properly filtered and the equipment not properly maintained, it can result in clogging.

Drip irrigation might be unsatisfactory if herbicides or top dressed fertili3ers need sprin(ler irrigation for activation.


Drip tape causes e#tra cleanup costs after harvest. HouBll need to plan for drip tape winding, disposal, recycling or reuse.

-aste of water, time I harvest, if not installed properly. )hese systems requires careful study of all the relevant factors li(e land topography, soil, water, crop and agro-climatic conditions, and suitability of drip irrigation system and its components.

Germination Droblems. In lighter soils subsurface drip may be unable to wet the soil surface for germination. =equires careful consideration of the installation depth.

!alinity. ;igh application efficiency often results in a failure to meet the leaching requirement, therefore salts build up in the root 3one. )his is a significant problem in areas where seasonal rainfall is not sufficient to drain salts from the profile.


S&rin'!er irrigation

In sprin(ler or overhead irrigation, water is piped to one or more central locations within the field and distributed by overhead high-pressure sprin(lers or guns. A system utili3ing sprin(lers, sprays, or guns mounted overhead on permanently installed risers is often referred to as a !oli"#!et irrigation system. ;igher pressure sprin(lers that rotate are called rotor! and are driven by a ball drive, gear drive, or impact mechanism. =otors can be designed to rotate in a full or partial circle. Guns are similar to rotors, e#cept that they generally operate at very high pressures of J4 to .84 lbf/inK "615 to /44 (Da$ and flows of 54 to .644 9! gal/min "8 to 1> '/s$, usually with no33le diameters in the range of 4.5 to ../ inches ".4 to 54 mm$. Guns are used not only for irrigation, but also for industrial applications such as dust suppression and logging.


!prin(lers may also be mounted on moving platforms connected to the water source by a hose. Automatically moving wheeled systems (nown as tra$eling !%rinkler! may irrigate areas such as small farms, sports fields, par(s, pastures, and cemeteries unattended. Most of these utili3e a length of polyethylene tubing wound on a steel drum. As the tubing is wound on the drum powered by the irrigation water or a small gas engine, the sprin(ler is pulled across the field. -hen the sprin(ler arrives bac( at the reel the system shuts off. )his type of system is (nown to most people as a ?waterreel? traveling irrigation sprin(ler and they are used e#tensively for dust suppression, irrigation, and land application of waste water. 7ther travelers use a flat rubber hose that is dragged along behind while the sprin(ler platform is pulled by a cable. )hese cable-type travelers are definitely old technology and their use is limited in todayBs modern irrigation pro%ects.

)here are many types of sprin(ler devices and sprin(ler systems available today. -hile a description of all the possibilities is beyond the scope of this article, a discussion of the more common types will be instructive.


ariable-flow irrigation sprin(ler head

Divot irrigation system watering a field of cotton in Mississippi


6an()%o"e or Porta+!e S&rin'!er S*ste$


76an( %o"e7 &orta+!e s&rin'!er s*ste$ )hese systems employ a lateral pipeline with sprin(lers installed at regular intervals. )he lateral pipe is often made of aluminum, with 64, 84, or J4 foot sections, and special quic(coupling connections at each pipe %oint. )he sprin(ler is installed on a pipe riser so that it may operate above the crop being grown "in orchards, the riser may be short, so that the sprin(lers operate under the tree canopy$. )he risers are connected to the lateral at the pipe coupling, with the length of pipe section chosen to correspond to the desired sprin(ler spacing. )he sprin(ler lateral is placed in one location and operated until the desired water application has been made. )hen the lateral line is disassembled and moved to the ne#t position to be irrigated. )his type of sprin(ler system has a low initial cost, but a high labor requirement. It can be used on most crops, though with some, such as corn, the laterals become difficult to move as the crop reaches maturity. 7n bare ?stic(y? soils, moving the lateral lines is very difficult, and an e#tra line "a ?dry? line$ is used.


Si(e Ro!! S*ste$


)his system is a variation on the hand-moved lateral sprin(ler line. )he lateral line is mounted on wheels, with the pipe forming the a#le "specially strengthened pipe and couplers are used$. )he wheel height is selected so that the a#le clears the crop as it is moved. A drive unit, usually an air-cooled gasoline-powered engine located near the center of the lateral, is used to move the system from one irrigation position to another by rolling the wheels.

!ide roll system


Tra"e!ing Gun S*ste$


Gun cart the traveler

;ard hose traveling guns

)his system utili3es a high volume, high pressure sprin(ler "?gun?$ mounted on a trailer, with water being supplied through a fle#ible hose or from an open ditch along which the trailer passes. )he gun may be operated in a stationary position for the desired time, and then moved to the ne#t location. ;owever, the most common use is as a continuous move system, where the gun sprin(les as it moves. )he trailer may be moved through the field by a winch and cable, or it may be pulled along as the hose is wound up on a reel at the edge of the field. )he gun used is usually a part-circle sprin(ler, operating through 04 to /4< of the circle for best uniformity, and allowing the trailer to move ahead on dry ground. )hese systems can be used on most crops, though due to the large droplets and high application rates produced, they are best suited to coarse soils having high inta(e rates and to crops providing good ground cover.


,enter Pi"ot an( .inear %o"e S*ste$s

)he center pivot system consists of a single sprin(ler lateral supported by a series of towers. )he towers are self-propelled so that the lateral rotates around a pivot point in the center of the irrigated area. )he time for the system to revolve through one complete circle can range


from a half a day to many days. )he longer the lateral, the faster the end of the lateral travels and the larger the area irrigated by the end section. )hus, the water application rate must increase with distance from the pivot to deliver an even application amount. )he high application rate at the outer end of the system may cause runoff on some soils. A variety of sprin(ler products have been developed specifically for use on these machines to better match water requirements, water application rates and soil characteristics. !ince the center pivot irrigates a circle, it leaves the corners of the field unirrigated "unless additions of special equipment are made to the system$. Center pivots are capable of irrigating most field crops, but have on occasion been used on tree and vine crops.

'inear move systems are similar to center pivot systems in construction, e#cept that neither end of the lateral pipeline is fi#ed. )he whole line moves down the field in a direction perpendicular to the lateral. -ater delivery to the continuously moving lateral is by fle#ible hose or open ditch pic(up. )he system is designed to irrigate rectangular fields free of tall obstructions. *oth the center pivot and the linear move systems are capable of very high efficiency water application. )hey require high capital investments, but have low irrigation labor requirements.

Center Divot and 'inear Move !ystems



.EPA S*ste$s 'ow :nergy Drecision Application "':DA$ systems are similar to linear move irrigation

systems, but are different enough to deserve separate mention of their own. )he lateral line is equipped with drop tubes and very low pressure orifice emission devices discharging water %ust above the ground surface into furrows. )his distribution system is often combined with microbasin land preparation for improved runoff control "and to retain rainfall which might fall during the season$. ;igh efficiency irrigation is possible, but requires either very high soil inta(e rates or adequate surface storage in the furrow micro-basins to prevent runoff or non-uniformity along a furrow.

)he ':DA technology is only one of several ways irrigators can conserve water and energy. 7ther methods includeE

)rapping ?free? water through crop residue management :valuating the energy efficiency of the irrigation system Determining the energy cost of crop production )esting pumping systems for energy efficiency


Monitoring soil moisture


So!i( Set an( Per$anent S*ste$s

!olid set systems are similar in concept to the hand-move lateral sprin(ler system, e#cept that enough laterals are placed in the field that it is not necessary to move pipe during the season. )he laterals are controlled by valves which direct the water into the laterals irrigating at any particular moment. )he pipe laterals for the solid set system are moved into the field at the beginning of the season "after planting and perhaps the first cultivation$, and are not removed until the end of the irrigation season "prior to harvest$. )he solid set system utili3es labor available at the beginning and ends of the irrigation season, but minimi3es labor needs during the irrigation season. A permanent system is a solid set system where the main supply lines and the sprin(ler laterals are buried and left in place permanently "this is usually done with D C plastic pipe$.




,ro&s# Soi!s# an( To&ogra&h* Fearly all crops can be irrigated with some type of sprin(ler system, though the

characteristics of the crop, especially the height, must be considered in system selection. !prin(lers are sometimes used to germinate seed and establish ground cover for crops li(e lettuce, alfalfa, and sod. )he light frequent applications that are desirable for this purpose are easily achieved with some sprin(ler systems. Most soils can be irrigated with the sprin(ler method, although soils with an inta(e rate below 4.6 inches per hour may require special measures. !prin(lers are applicable to soils that are too shallow to permit surface shaping or too variable for efficient surface irrigation. In general, sprin(lers can be used on any topography that can be farmed. 'and leveling is not normally required. +/ 0ater 1uantit* an( 1ua!it* 'eaching salts from the soil for reclamation can be done with sprin(lers using much less water than is required by flooding methods "although a longer time is required to accomplish the reclamation$. )his can be particularly important in areas with a high water table. A disadvantage of sprin(ler irrigation is that many crops "citrus, for e#ample$ are sensitive to foliar damage when sprin(led with saline waters. c/ Efficiencies

Attainable irrigation efficiencies for different sprin(ler systems are given in )able .. Ta+!e 1. Attaina+!e S&rin'!er Irrigation Efficiencies !ystem )ype !ide =oll )raveling Gun Center Divot 'inear Move ':DA :fficiency >5-15< >4-14< 15-/4< 15-/4< 04-/5<

;and-Move or Dortable >5-15<

!olid !et or Dermanent 14-04<



,enter &i"ot irrigation

Center pivot irrigation is a form of sprin(ler irrigation consisting of several segments of pipe "usually galvani3ed steel or aluminum$ %oined together and supported by trusses, mounted on wheeled towers with sprin(lers positioned along its length. )he system moves in a circular pattern and is fed with water from the pivot point at the center of the arc. )hese systems are common in parts of the 9nited !tates where terrain is flat.

Most center pivot systems now have drops hanging from a u-shaped pipe called a goo!eneck attached at the top of the pipe with sprin(ler heads that are positioned a few feet "at most$ above the crop, thus limiting evaporative losses. Drops can also be used with drag hoses or bubblers that deposit the water directly on the ground between crops. )he crops are planted in a circle to conform to the center pivot. )his type of system is (nown as ':DA "'ow :nergy Drecision Application$. 7riginally, most center pivots were water powered. )hese were replaced by hydraulic systems "T#L Irrigation$ and electric motor driven systems "Lin"!a&, Reinke, 'alle&, (i atic, Pierce, Gr)%o C*a artin. Most systems today are driven by an electric motor mounted low on each span. )his drives a reduction gearbo# and transverse driveshafts transmit power to another reduction gearbo# mounted behind each wheel. Drecision controls, some with GD! location and remote computer monitoring, are now available.



.atera! $o"e :si(e ro!!# hee! !ine/ irrigation

A series of pipes, each with a wheel of about ..5 m diameter permanently affi#ed to its midpoint and sprin(lers along its length, are coupled together at one edge of a field. -ater is supplied at one end using a large hose. After sufficient water has been applied, the hose is removed and the remaining assembly rotated either by hand or with a purpose-built mechanism, so that the sprin(lers move .4 m across the field. )he hose is reconnected. )he process is repeated until the opposite edge of the field is reached. )his system is less e#pensive to install than a center pivot, but much more labor intensive to operate, and it is limited in the amount of water it can carry. Most systems utili3e J or 5-inch ".84 mm$ diameter aluminum pipe. 7ne feature of a lateral move system is that it consists of sections that can be easily disconnected. )hey are most often used for small or oddly-shaped fields, such as those found in hilly or mountainous regions, or in regions where labor is ine#pensive




!ub-irrigation also sometimes called seepage irrigation has been used for many years in field crops in areas with high water tables. It is a method of artificially raising the water table to allow the soil to be moistened from below the plantsB root 3one. 7ften those systems are located on permanent grasslands in lowlands or river valleys and combined with drainage infrastructure. A system of pumping stations, canals, weirs and gates allows it to increase or decrease the water level in a networ( of ditches and thereby control the water table.

!ub-irrigation is also used in commercial greenhouse production, usually for potted plants. -ater is delivered from below, absorbed upwards, and the e#cess collected for recycling. )ypically, a solution of water and nutrients floods a container or flows through a trough for a short period of time, .4-64 minutes, and is then pumped bac( into a holding tan( for reuse. !ubirrigation in greenhouses requires fairly sophisticated, e#pensive equipment and management. Advantages are water and nutrient conservation, and labor-saving through lowered system maintenance and automation. It is similar in principle and action to subsurface drip irrigation.


%anua! irrigation using +uc'ets or atering cans

)hese systems have low requirements for infrastructure and technical equipment but need high labor inputs. Irrigation using watering cans is to be found for e#ample in peri-urban agriculture around large cities in some African countries.


Auto$atic# non)e!ectric irrigation using +uc'ets an( ro&es

*esides the common manual watering by buc(et, an automated, natural version of this also e#ist. 9sing plain polyester ropes combined with a prepared ground mi#ture can be used to water plants from a vessel filled with water.@.0A@./A

)he ground mi#ture would need to be made


depending on the plant itself, yet would mostly consist of blac( potting soil, vermiculite and perlite. )his system would "with certain crops$ allow you to save e#penses as it does not consume any electricity and only little water "unli(e sprin(lers, water timers, ...$. ;owever, it may only be used with certain crops "probably mostly larger crops that do not need a humid environment& perhaps e.g. papri(aBs$.


Irrigation using stones to catch ater fro$ hu$i( air

In countries where at night, humid air sweeps the countryside, stones are used to catch water from the humid air by condensation. )his is for e#ample practiced in the vineyards at 'an3arote


Dr* terraces for irrigation an( ater (istri+ution

In subtropical countries as Mali and !enegal, a special type of terracing "without flood irrigation or intent to flatten farming ground$ is used. ;ere, a BstairsB is made through the use of ground level differences which helps to decrease water evaporation and also distributes the water to all patches "sort of irrigation$.


FA,TORS BEARING ON IRRIGATION SYSTE% SE.E,TION )he following outline lists a number of factors of the environment which will have a

bearing on the evaluation of irrigation system alternates and the selection of a particular system. Fot all points will be equally significant in each case, but the outline can serve as a useful chec(list to prevent overloo(ing important factors.


A. Ph*sica! ,onsi(erations .. Crops I Cultural Dractices 6. !oils a. )e#ture, Depth I 9niformity b. Inta(e =ate I :rosion Dotential c. !alinity I Internal Drainage d. *earing !trength 8. )opography - !lope I Irregularity J. -ater !upply a. !ource I Delivery !chedule b. Luantity Available I =eliability d. -ater Luality - Chemical and !uspended !olids 5. Climate >. 'and alue and Availability 1. *oundary Constraints and 7bstructions 0. 2lood ;a3ard /. -ater )able .4. Dests ... :nergy Availability and =eliability


B. Econo$ic ,onsi(erations .. Capital Investment =equired 6. Credit Availability I Interest =ate 8. :quipment 'ife I Annuali3ed Cost J. Costs I Inflation a. :nergy, 7peration I Maintenance b. 'abor " arious !(ill 'evels$ c. !upervision I Management 5. Cash 2low >. :fficiency 2actors

,. Socia! ,onsi(erations .. 'egal and Dolitical Issues 6. 'ocal Cooperation and !upport 8. Availability and =eliability of 'abor J. !(ill and Mnowledge 'evel of 'abor 5. 'ocal and Governmental :#pectations >. 'evel of Automatic Control Desired


1. Dotential for Damage by andalism 0. ;ealth Issues

)he remaining sections will present the more common types of irrigation systems, along with discussions of the particular capabilities and limitations of each. 'abor, management, energy and economic factors relevant to each system type are briefly addressed


PROB.E%S IN IRRIGATION Competition for surface water rights. Depletion of underground aquifers. Ground subsidence "e.g. Few 7rleans, 'ouisiana$ 9nder-irrigation gives poor salinity control which leads to increased soil salinity with consequent build up of to#ic salts on soil surface in areas with high evaporation. )his requires either leaching to remove these salts and a method of drainage to carry the salts away or use of mulch to minimi3e evaporation.

7ver-irrigation because of poor distribution uniformity or management wastes water, chemicals, and may lead to water pollution.

Deep drainage "from over-irrigation$ may result in rising water tables which in some instances will lead to problems of irrigation salinity.

Irrigation with saline or high-sodium water may damage soil structure. DEFINITION OF DRAINAGE Drainage is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from a area.


Many agricultural soils need drainage to improve production or to manage water supplies.


During rain or irrigation, the fields become wet. )he water infiltrates into the soil and is stored in its pores. -hen all the pores are filled with water, the soil is said to be saturated and no more water can be absorbed& when rain or irrigation continues, pools may form on the soil surface . During heavy rainfall the upper soil layers become saturated and pools may form. -ater percolates to deeper layers and infiltrates from the pools.

Dart of the water present in the saturated upper soil layers flows downward into deeper layers and is replaced by water infiltrating from the surface pools. -hen there is no more water left on the soil surface, the downward flow continues for a while and air re-enters in the pores of the soil. )his soil is not saturated anymore.


;owever, saturation may have lasted too long for the plantsB health. Dlant roots require air as well as water and most plants cannot withstand saturated soil for long periods "rice is an e#ception$.

*esides damage to the crop, a very wet soil ma(es the use of machinery difficult, if not impossible.

)he water flowing from the saturated soil downward to deeper layers, feeds the groundwater reservoir. As a result, the groundwater level "often called groundwater table or simply water table$ rises. 2ollowing heavy rainfall or continuous over-irrigation, the groundwater table may even reach and saturate part of the root3one. Again, if this situation lasts too long, the plants may suffer. Measures to control the rise of the water table are thus necessary.

After hea"* rainfa!! the groun( ater ta+!e $a* rise an( reach the root2one Before 6ea"* Rainfa!! After 6ea"* Rainfa!!

)he removal of e#cess water either from the ground surface or from the root3one, is called drainage. :#cess water may be caused by rainfall or by using too much irrigation water, but may also have other origins such as canal seepage or floods.

In very dry areas there is often accumulation of salts in the soil. Most crops do not grow well on salty soil. !alts can be washed out by percolating irrigation water through the root 3one of the


crops. )o achieve sufficient percolation, farmers will apply more water to the field than the crops need. *ut the salty percolation water will cause the water table to rise. Drainage to control the water table, therefore, also serves to control the salinity of the soil



)he main drainage systems consist of deep or shallow collectors, and main drains or disposal drains.

Deep collector drains are required for subsurface field drainage systems, whereas shallow collector drains are used for surface field drainage systems, but they can also be used for pumped subsurface systems. )he deep collectors may consist of open ditches or buried pipe lines.

)he terms deep collectors and shallow collectors refer rather to the depth of the water level in the collector below the soil surface than to the depth of the bottom of the collector. )he bottom depth is determined both by the depth of the water level and by the required discharge capacity.

)he deep collectors may either discharge their water into deep main drains "which are drains that do not receive water directly from field drains, but only from collectors$, or their water may be pumped into a disposal drain.

Disposal drains are main drains in which the depth of the water level below the soil surface is not bound to a minimum, and the water level may even be above the soil surface, provided that emban(ments are made to prevent inundation. Disposal drains can serve both subsurface and surface field drainage systems.

Deep main drains can gradually become disposal drains if they are given a smaller gradient than the land slope along the drain.


)he technical criteria applicable to main drainage systems depend on the hydrological situation and on the type of system.


%AIN DRAINAGE O?T.ET )he final point of a main drainage system is the gravity outlet structure@0A or the pumping station



)he function of the field drainage system is to control the water table, whereas the function of the main drainage system is to collect, transport, and dispose of the water through an outfall or outlet. In some instances one ma(es an additional distinction between collector and main drainage systems. 2ield drainage systems are differentiated in surface and subsurface field drainage systems. !ometimes "e.g. in irrigated, submerged rice fields$, a form of temporary drainage is required whereby the drainage system is allowed to function on certain occasions only "e.g. during the harvest period$. If allowed to function continuously, e#cessive quantities of water would be lost. !uch a system is therefore called a chec(ed, or controlled, drainage system. More usually, however, the drainage system is meant to function as regularly as possible to prevent undue water logging at any time and one employs a regular drainage system. In literature, this is sometimes also called a ?relief drainage system?.


classifies the various types of drainage systems. It shows the field "or internal$ and the main "or e#ternal$ systems.




)he regular surface drainage systems, which start functioning as soon as there is an e#cess of rainfall or irrigation, operate entirely by gravity. )hey consist of reshaped or reformed land surfaces and can be divided intoE *edded systems, used in flat lands for crops other than rice& Graded systems, used in sloping land for crops other than rice. )he bedded and graded systems may have ridges and furrows. )he chec(ed surface drainage systems consist of chec( gates placed in the emban(ments surrounding flat basins, such as those used for rice fields in flat lands. )hese fields are usually submerged and only need to be drained on certain occasions "e.g. at harvest time$. Chec(ed surface drainage systems are also found in terraced lands used for rice. In literature, not much information can be found on the relations between the various regular surface field drainage systems, the reduction in the degree of water logging, and the agricultural or environmental effects. It is therefore difficult to develop sound agricultural criteria for the regular surface field drainage systems. Most of the (nown criteria for these systems concern the efficiency of the techniques of land leveling and earthmoving.


!imilarly, agricultural criteria for chec(ed surface drainage systems are not very well (nown.


S?BS?RFA,E DRAINAGE SYSTE%S 'i(e the surface field drainage systems, the subsurface field drainage systems can also be

differentiated in regular systems and chec(ed "controlled$ systems. -hen the drain discharge ta(es place entirely by gravity, both types of subsurface systems have much in common, e#cept that the chec(ed systems have control gates that can be opened and closed according to need . )hey can save much irrigation water. A chec(ed drainage system also reduces the discharge through the main drainage system, thereby reducing construction costs. -hen the discharge ta(es place by pumping, the drainage can be chec(ed simply by not operating the pumps or by reducing the pumping time. In northwestern India, this practice has increased the irrigation efficiency and reduced the quantity of irrigation water needed, and has not led to any undue salini3ation. )he subsurface field drainage systems consist of hori3ontal or slightly sloping channels made in the soil& they can be open ditches, trenches, filled with brushwood and a soil cap, filled with stones and a soil cap, buried pipe drains, tile drains, or mole drains, but they can also consist of a series of wells. Modern buried pipe drains often consist of corrugated, fle#ible, and perforated plastic "D: or D C$ pipe lines wrapped with an envelope or filter material to improve the permeability around the pipes and to prevent entry of soil particles, which is especially important in fine sandy and silty soils. )he surround may consist of synthetic fibre "geote#tile$. )he field drains "or laterals$ discharge their water into the collector or main system either by gravity or by pumping. )he wells "which may be open dug wells or tube wells$ have normally to be pumped, but sometimes they are connected to drains for discharge by gravity.


!ubsurface drainage is the removal of water from the root3one. It is accomplished by deep open drains or buried pipe drains

a$ Deep open drains )he e#cess water from the root3one flows into the open drains .)he disadvantage of this type of subsurface drainage is that it ma(es the use of machinery difficult.

Control of the groundwater table by means of deep open drains

b$ Dipe drains Dipe drains are buried pipes with openings through which the soil water can enter. )he pipes convey the water to a collector drain


Control of the groundwater table by means of buried pipes

Drain pipes are made of clay, concrete or plastic. )hey are usually placed in trenches by machines. In clay and concrete pipes "usually 84 cm long and 5 - .4 cm in diameter$ drainage water enters the pipes through the %oints. 2le#ible plastic drains are much longer "up to 644 m$ and the water enters through perforations distributed over the entire length of the pipe .


c$ Deep open drains versus pipe drains 7pen drains use land that otherwise could be used for crops. )hey restrict the use of machines. )hey also require a large number of bridges and culverts for road crossings and access to the fields. 7pen drains require frequent maintenance "weed control, repairs, etc.$. In contrast to open drains, buried pipes cause no loss of cultivable land and maintenance requirements are very limited. )he installation costs, however, of pipe drains may be higher due to the materials, the equipment and the s(illed manpower involved.