Irrigation and Water Resources


Irrigation is an artificial application of water to the soil through various systems of tubes, pumps, and sprays. Irrigation is normally used in areas where rainfall is inconsistent or dry conditions or drought is expected.

Purpose of irrigation

Irrigation is the process of supplying water, in addition to natural precipitation, to field crops, orchards, vineyards, or other cultivated plants. Irrigation water is applied to ensure that the water available in the soil is sufficient to meet crop water needs. The role of irrigation is to improve production and the effectiveness of other inputs.

Types of Irrigation Systems


There are different types of irrigation systems, depending on how the water is spread throughout the field. Some general types of irrigation systems are as follows:

Surface irrigation
Surface irrigation methods use the soil surface to spread water across a field or orchard to the plants being irrigated, and include furrow, border or flood irrigation and basin irrigation. In furrow irrigation, small channels or furrows are used to convey water across a field. In border irrigation, a field is divided into strips separated by border ridges running down the slop of the field. Border irrigation is used for tree crops and crops like small grains.

Sprinkler irrigation
In this type of irrigation water is applied to all field by means of rotating sprinklers or mini-sprinklers connected to a pressurized pipe system. Sprinkler spread water over a radius of 5 to 300 feet as depending on design. The pipe system supplying the sprinklers can be permanent, movable, portable, or a combination of the three, and the system can be operated either automatically or semi-automatically. Some sprinklers can also be hidden below ground level, if aesthetics is a concern and pop up in response to increased water pressure. This type of system is commonly used in lawns, golf courses, cemeteries, parks, and other turf areas. Sprinklers may also be mounted on movable platforms connected to the water source by a hose. At the high-tech end, computerized, automatically moving wheeled systems may irrigate large areas unattended. At the low end, such as in a small greenhouse or landscape, a person may be watering each plant individually with a hose end sprinkler or even a watering can.

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