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Methods & Techniques of Irrigation

There are three broad classes of irrigation systems:

1. Pressurized distribution
2. Gravity flow distribution
3. Drainage flow distribution.

1. Pressurized Distribution
The pressurized systems include sprinkler, trickle, and the array of similar systems in which
water is conveyed to and distributed over the farmland through pressurized pipe networks. There
are many individual system configurations identified by unique features (centre-pivot sprinkler

2. Gravity Flow Irrigation System

Gravity flow systems convey and distribute water at the field level by a free surface, overland
flow regime. These surface irrigation methods are also subdivided according to configuration and
operational characteristics.

3. Control of drainage flow irrigation System

Irrigation by control of the drainage system, subirrigation, is not common but is interesting
conceptually. Relatively large volumes of applied irrigation water percolate through the root zone
and become a drainage or groundwater flow. By controlling the flow at critical points, it is
possible to raise the level of the groundwater to within reach of the crop roots. These individual
irrigation systems have a variety of advantages and particular applications.
Irrigation systems are often designed to maximize efficiencies and minimize labour and capital
requirements. The most effective management practices are dependent on the type of irrigation
system and its design. For example, management can be influenced by the use of automation, the
control of or the capture and reuse of runoff, field soil and topographical variations and the
existence and location of flow measurement and water control structures.
Questions that are common to all irrigation systems are when to irrigate, how much to apply, and
can the efficiency be improved. A large number of considerations must be taken into account in
the selection of an irrigation system. These will vary from location to location, crop to crop,
year to year, and farmer to farmer.

Compatibility of the irrigation systems:

The irrigation system for a field or a farm must be compatible with the other existing farm
operations, such as land preparation, cultivation, and harvest.

Level of Mechanization
Size of Fields


Pest Control

Topographic Limitations.

Restrictions on irrigation system selection due to topography include:

1. groundwater levels
2. the location and relative elevation of the water source,
3. field boundaries,
4. acreage in each field,
5. the location of roads
6. power and water lines and other obstructions,

7. the shape and slope of the field

Methods of Irrigation
Under gravity irrigation, water is distributed by means of open canals and conducts with out
pressure. Gravity irrigation methods are less expensive, but requires more skill and experience to
achieve rescannable efficiency. This method also requires that the land to be irrigated should
have a flatter slope, other wise the cost of land leveling and preparation at times be come very
high. Gravity irrigation method. Includes furrow, boarder, basin, wild- flooding and corrugation.

1. Furrow irrigation
In this method of surface irrigation, water is applied to the field by furrow which are small
canales having a continuous our nearly uniform slope in the direction of irrigation. Water flowing
in the furrow into the soil spreads laterally to
irrigate the area between furrows.
The rate of lateral spread of water in the soil depends on soil type.i.e. For a given time, water
will infiltrate more vertically and less laterally in relatively sandy soils than in clay soil.
Where the land grade is less than 1% in the direction of furrow, striate graded furrows may be
adapted. The grade can be as much as 2 to 3% depending on the soil type and the rainfall
intensity, which affects erosion. When field sloped is too steep to align the furrows down the
slope, control furrows which run along curved routed may be used. Spacing of furrows depends
on the crop type and the type of machinery used for cultivation and planting.
Length of furrows depends largely on permeability of the soil, the available labor and skill, and
experiences of the irrigation.
Flow rates are related to the infiltration to the rate of the soil.
Longitudinal slope of furrow depends up on the soil type, especially its errodiability and the
velocity of flow.
slope may be related to discharge as follows.
slope % 0.25 0.5 0.75 1.0 1.5 2.0
Qmax (m3/hr) 9.0 4.5 3.0 2.2 1.5 1.1

2. Boarder - strip Irrigation

The farms are divided into number of strips of 5 to 20 meters wide and 100 to 400 meters long.
Parallel earth bunds or levees are provided in order to guide the advancing sheet of water.
Recommended safe limits of longitudinal slope also depends on the soil texture:
Sandy loam to sandy soils 0.25 - 0.6%
Medium loam soils 0.2 - 0.4%
Clay to clay loam soils 0.05 - 0.2%

3. Basin irrigation
Large stream of water is applied to almost level and smaller unit of fields which are surrounded
by levees or bunds. The applied water is retained in the basin until it filtrates.
Soil type, stream size and irrigation depth are the important factors indeterming the basin area.
Method of irrigation

Type of Crop suited

Border strip method

Wheat, Leafy vegetables, Fodders

Furrow method

Cotton, Sugarcane, Potatoes

Basin method

Orchard trees

4. Wild flooding
Water is applied all over the field especially, before plowing for soil that can't be plowed when
Under closed conduit- there are two types of irrigation
1. Sprinkler
2. Drip irrigation
1. Sprinkler irrigation:
It is mostly used for young growth, to humid the atmosphere, for soil compaction( specially for
sandy loam soils before planting, for land having up and down slope and used to wash out plant
leaves especially in dusty area.
Sprinkler irrigation offers a means of irrigating areas which are so irregular that they prevent use
of any surface irrigation methods. By using a low supply rate, deep percolation or surface runoff
and erosion can be minimized. Offsetting these advantages is the relatively high cost of the
sprinkling equipment and the permanent installations necessary to supply water to the sprinkler
Very low delivery rates may also result in fairly high evaporation from the spray and the wetted
vegetation. It is impossible to get completely uniform distribution of water around a sprinkler
head and spacing of the heads must be planned to overlap spray areas so that distribution is
essentially uniform

Economical to labour & uniform distribution.

2. Drip irrigation
This is used especially where there is shortage of water and salt problem. The drip method of
irrigation, also called trickle irrigation. The method is one of the most recent developments in
irrigation. It involves slow and frequent application of water to the plant root zone and enables
the application of water and fertilizer at optimum rates to the root system.
It minimizes the loss of water by deep percolation below the root zone or by evaporation from
the soil surface. Drip irrigation is not only economical in water use but also gives higher yields
with poor quality water.


No loss. of water because all water drops at root zone.

No water logging and rise of water table at result salinity problems caused by this
irrigation type is almost nil.

Uniform distribution of water.

Good water management.

Economical use of lobour.

Importance of Irrigation Engineering

In the next 35-45- years, world food production will need to double to meet the demands
of increased population.
90% of this increased food production will have to come from existing lands.

70% of this increased food production will have to come from irrigated land

Purposes of Irrigation

Providing insurance against short duration droughts

Reducing the hazard of frost (increase the temperature of the plant)

Reducing the temperature during hot spells

Washing or diluting salts in the soil Softening tillage pans and clods

Delaying bud formation by evaporative cooling

Promoting the function of some micro organisms

Objectives of irrigation

To Supply Water Partially or Totally for Crop

To Cool both the Soil and the Plant

To Leach Excess Salts

To improve Groundwater storage

To Facilitate continuous cropping

To Enhance Fertilizer Application- Fertigation

Benefits of Irrigation
1. Increase in Crop Yield
2. Protection from femine
3. Cultivation of superior crops
4. Elimination of mixed cropping:
5. Economic development
6. Hydro power generation
7. Domestic and industrial water supply: