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Irrigation Methods

Engr. Sikandar Ali

Department of Irrigation and Drainage
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
Irrigation Methods
Irrigation may be defined as the process of supplying water by
artificial means to agricultural fields for crop production. If water
available to the plants from rainfall is not sufficient, it is
supplemented by irrigation water.

In order to achieve this objective, an irrigation system is required

to be developed that involves planning, design, construction,
operation and maintenance of various irrigation works:

• Source: River, Reservoirs

• Control structure: Barrages, Head Regulators
• Distribution system: Irrigation Canals

Water is applied to the field in either the controlled or uncontrolled manner.

• Controlled: Water is applied from the head and guided by, furrows and borders.

• Uncontrolled: Wild flooding.

• Flood or Gravity Irrigation

Surface irrigation is entirely practiced where water is abundant. The low initial
cost of development is later offset by high labor cost of applying water. There are
deep percolation, runoff and drainage problems

Each surface system has unique advantages and disadvantages

depending on such factors as were listed earlier like:
(1) initial cost
(2) size and shape of fields
(3) soil characteristics
(4) nature and availability of the water supply
(5) climate;
(6) cropping patterns
(7) social preferences and structures
(8) historical experiences
(9) influences external to the surface irrigation system.
Basin irrigation
➢Basin irrigation is the most common form of surface
irrigation, particularly in regions with layouts of small fields.

➢If a field is level in all directions, is encompassed by a dyke

to prevent runoff, and provides an undirected flow of water
onto the field, it is herein called a basin.

➢A basin is typically square in shape but exists in all sorts of

irregular and rectangular configurations.
Basin Irrigation System
1. In basin irrigation, water is flooded in wider areas. It is ideal
for irrigating rice.
2. The area is normally flat.
3. In basin irrigation, a very high stream size is introduced into
the basin so that rapid movement of water is obtained.
4. Water does not infiltrate a lot initially.
5. At the end, a bond is put and water can pond the field.
Suitable Crops for Basin Irrigation
Suitable Crops for Basin Irrigation
➢Paddy rice grows best when its roots are submerged in water
and so basin irrigation is the best method to use for this crop.

➢Not suited to crops which cannot stand in wet or

waterlogged conditions for periods longer than 24 hours (e.g.
potatoes, beet and carrots, etc.)
Suitable Land Slopes for Basin Irrigation

The flatter the land surface, the easier it is to construct

On flat land only minor levelling may be required to
obtain level basins.
Suitable Soil for Basin Irrigation

Loamy soils are preferred for basin irrigation so that

waterlogging (permanent saturation of the soil) can be
avoided (which can occur on clayey soils).

Coarse sands are not recommended for basin irrigation

as, due to the high infiltration rate, percolation losses
can be high.
Water Application Methods

Direct Method

Cascade Method
Direct Method of Water Application
➢Irrigation water is led directly from the field channel into the basin
through bundbreaks.

➢In the following figure

"Basin a" is irrigated first, then "Basin b" is irrigated and so on.

➢This method can be used for most crop types and is suitable for most

Pranamesh Chakraborty
Cascade Method of Water Application
➢In the following figure the water is supplied to the highest terrace
(a.1) and is allowed to flow through terrace a.2 until the lowest terrace
(a.3) is filled.

➢The intake of terrace a.1 is then closed and the irrigation water is
diverted to terrace b.1 until b.1, b.2 and b.3 are filled, and so on.

Pranamesh Chakraborty
Size of Basins
The size of basin is related to stream size and soil type(See Table
3.6 below).
Table 3.6: Suggested basin areas for different soil types and rates of water flow
Flow rate Soil Type
Sand Sandy loam Clay loam Clay
l/s m3 /hr .................Hectares.............
30 108 0.02 0.06 0.12 0.20
60 216 0.04 0.12 0.24 0.40
90 324 0.06 0.18 0.36 0.60
120 432 0.08 0.24 0.48 0.80
150 540 0.10 0.30 0.60 1.00
180 648 0.12 0.36 0.72 1.20
210 756 0.14 0.42 0.84 1.40
240 864 0.16 0.48 0.96 1.60
300 1080 0.20 0.60 1.20 2.00
Note: The size of basin for clays is 10 times that of sand as the infiltration rate for clay is low
leading to higher irrigation time. The size of basin also increases as the flow rate increases. The
table is only a guide and practical values from an area should be relied upon. There is the need for
field evaluation.
Border Irrigation System
➢In a border irrigation, controlled surface flooding is practiced
whereby the field is divided up into strips by parallel ridges or
dykes and each strip is irrigated separately by introducing water
upstream and it progressively covers the entire strip.

➢Border irrigation is suited for crops that can withstand flooding

for a short time e.g. wheat.

➢It can be used for all crops provided that the system is designated
to provide the needed water control for irrigation of crops.

➢It is suited to soils between extremely high and very low

infiltration rates.
Border irrigation can be viewed as an extension
of basin irrigation to sloping, long rectangular or
contoured field shapes, with free draining
conditions at the lower end.
Introduction (Contd.)

➢Above figure illustrates a typical border configuration in which a field is

divided into sloping borders.
➢Water is applied to individual borders from small hand-dug checks from the
field head ditch.
➢When the water is shut off, it recedes from the upper end to the lower end.
Border Irrigation System
Border Irrigation
Border Irrigation Contd.

1. In border irrigation, water is applied slowly.

2. The root zone is applied water gradually down the


3. Ideally, there is no runoff and deep percolation.

4. The problem is that the time to cut off the inflow

is difficult to determine.
Design Parameters of Border Irrigation
Strip width:
1. Cross slopes must be eliminated by leveling.
2. Since there are no furrows to restrict lateral movement, any
cross slope will make water move down one side leading to
poor application efficiency and possibly erosion.
3. The stream size available should also be considered in
choosing a strip width.
4. The stream size should be enough to allow complete lateral
spreading throughout the length of the strip.
5. The strip width should be at least bigger than the size of
vehicle tract for construction where applicable.
Design Parameters of Border Irrigation
System Contd.
Strip Slope:
Longitudinal slopes should be almost same as for the furrow irrigation.

Construction of Levees:
Levees should be big enough to withstand erosion, and of sufficient height to
contain the irrigation stream.

Selection of the Advance Stream:

The maximum advance stream used should be non-erosive and therefore
depends on the protection afforded by the crop cover. Clay soils are less
susceptible to erosion but suffer surface panning at high water velocities.
Furrow Irrigation
➢In furrow irrigation, only a part of the land surface (the
furrow) is wetted thus minimizing evaporation loss.

➢Furrow irrigation is adapted for row crops

➢Irrigation can be by corrugation using small irrigation


➢Furrow irrigation is adapted for irrigating on various

slopes except on steep ones because of erosion and bank
Fig. 3.1: A Furrow System
Furrow Irrigation with Siphons
Furrow Irrigation Contd.
a) Shape and Spacing of Furrows:
Heights of ridges vary between 15 cm and 40 cm and the
distance between the ridges should be based on the
optimum crop spacing modified, if necessary to obtain
adequate lateral wetting, and to accommodate the track of
mechanical equipment.
The range of spacing commonly used is from 0.3 to 1.8 m
with 1.0 m as the average.
Drip Irrigation System
In this irrigation system:
1. Water is applied directly to the crop ie. entire field is not

2. Water is conserved

3. There is a slow rate of water application somewhat

matching the consumptive use.

4. Application rate can be as low as 1 - 12 l/hr.

5. There is no need for a drainage system.

Drip Irrigation System
The Major Components of a Drip Irrigation System
1. Head unit which contains filters to remove
debris that may block emitters; fertilizer tank;
water meter; and pressure regulator.
2. Mainline, Laterals, and Emitters which can be
easily blocked.
Loop Around the Plant

Irrigation up to whole Canopy

Components of a Drip Irrigation System

Unit Wetting Pattern


Bubbler irrigation
114 lph – 228 lph
Type of Sprinkler Systems
Sprinkler systems are of the two major types, on the basis of the
arrangement for spraying irrigation water.

Rotating head system

Perforated pipe system

Based on portability, sprinkler system are classified into 5 types.

.Portable system
Semi- portable system
Semi-permanent system
Solid set system
Permanent system
Portable System:
A portable system has portable main lines, sub-mains, laterals and a
portable pumping unit (plant).
It is designed to be moved from field to field or to different pumping
sites in the same field.
The movement of system may be manual or by mechanical power.

Semi –portable System:

It is similar to the fully portable system, except that the location of the
water source and pumping plant are fixed.

Such system may be used on more than one field where these is an
extended mainline, but may not be used on more than one farm unless
are additional pumping plants.
Semi-permanent System:
It has portable laterals, permanent mainline and Submain and a
stationary water source and pumping plant.

Solid Set System:

A solid set system has enough laterals to eliminate their movement.
The laterals are positioned in the field early in the crop season and
remain for season.

Permanent System:
A fully permanent system consists of permanently laid main line,
Submain and lateral and stationary water source and pumping plant.
Main line, sub-main and lateral are usually buried below plough
depth. Sprinklers are permanently located on each riser.
Such systems are costly and are suited to the automation of the system
with moisture sensing devices sprinkler installation in orchards are
usually permanent types
Wheel Line Irrigation
Side Roll Irrigation