Irrigation and it’s Needs
Irrigation is the technique of providing crops or plants with water artificially to encourage growth and assure maximum yield. It is an essential practice in agriculture, especially in locations where rainfall is scarce or unpredictable. Irrigation serves to augment natural water supplies and ensures that plants have enough moisture to grow.
Irrigation requires when natural rainfall is insufficient to fulfill agricultural water requirements. And also requires to supply appropriate moisture for plant development, especially in dry or semi-arid locations. It assures optimal crop output and quality, aids in the management of seasonal changes, combats drought, promotes precision agricultural techniques, permits crop diversity, and meets rising food demand. Irrigation is critical for agricultural sustainability and food security in general.
Types of Irrigation
There are several irrigation technologies used in agriculture, each designed to transport water efficiently and successfully to crops. Here are some examples of typical irrigation methods:
This is one of the earliest and most basic types of irrigation. Water spreads across the soil’s surface and allowed to penetrate and travel through it by gravity. It includes techniques like furrow irrigation, which applies water in narrow channels or furrows between crop rows, and flood irrigation, which floods water onto the field. Surface irrigation is relatively inexpensive but can be less efficient due to water losses through evaporation and runoff.
Water distributes over crops in the form of a spray or rain-like drops. Water pushes via a network of pipes equipped with sprinkler heads, which spray water into the air, where it falls on the plants and soil. Sprinkler irrigation distributes water uniformly and tailored to different crop varieties and terrains. It’s common in field crops, orchards, and gardens.
Also known as micro-irrigation or trickle irrigation, is the slow and precise distribution of water directly to the root zone of a plant. Water distributes via a network of tubes equipped with emitters that spray water droplets near the plants. It is very efficient, saves water, and used for a variety of crops such as row crops, vineyards, and greenhouse production.
In this procedure, water supplies directly to the root zone beneath the soil surface. Subsurface irrigation systems rely on subsurface perforated pipes or tubes to provide water at or near the required root level. Because the soil surface remains dry, this approach lowers water loss due to evaporation and weed development. Subsurface irrigation is widely employed in dry regions, high-value crops, and salinity-prone locations.
Centre Pivot Irrigation:
It entails the movement of a huge mechanical arm, replicating a circle’s radius, around a center pivot point. Water sprays from sprinklers installed on the arm as it travels, forming a circular irrigation pattern. This technique is commonly utilized in large-scale agriculture, such as field crops and pasturelands. Center pivot irrigation provides effective water distribution and may cover a large area.
Lateral Move Irrigation:
Lateral move irrigation systems are made up of a network of pipelines with sprinklers set on mobile towers that move in a straight line over the field. Wheels or hydraulic systems propel the towers. This irrigation is suitable for rectangular fields and provides uniform water distribution similar to center pivot systems.
Methods of Irrigation
Irrigation methods are the procedures and systems used to distribute water to crops. The effectiveness, adaptability for different crop varieties, and water-saving capacities of these systems vary. Here are some regularly utilized irrigation methods:
Flooding is a simple irrigation method in which water is applied to a whole area by allowing it to flow or flood the surface. It is extensively utilized in the production of rice and other crops. While flooding is simple and inexpensive, it can cause substantial water loss owing to evaporation and runoff.
Furrow irrigation is the process of establishing tiny canals or furrows between crop rows. Water is channeled into the furrows, where it flows down the rows and infiltrates the soil. Furrow irrigation is used in row crops and orchards. When correctly managed, it may be an effective system, however, there is the risk of unequal water distribution and water loss.
Sprinkler irrigation employs a network of pipes outfitted with sprinkler heads that spray water over the crop area. Sprinklers can be installed on fixed or moveable structures, such as center pivots or lateral movements. This irrigation distributes water uniformly and is ideal for a broad variety of crops.
Drip irrigation, also known as micro-irrigation or trickle irrigation, uses a network of tubes with emitters to transport water directly to the plant’s root zone. Small, regular drips or a sluggish stream of water are discharged. Drip irrigation is extremely efficient, reducing water loss due to evaporation and runoff. It’s ideal for fruit and vegetable crops, orchards, and greenhouse production.
It is the practice of providing water directly to the root zone beneath the soil surface. To discharge water near the plant roots, it uses underground pipes or tubes with tiny holes called emitters. Subsurface irrigation lowers water loss and can be beneficial in arid areas or for crops that are sensitive to damp foliage.
Irrigation using a Centre Pivot:
A center pivot irrigation system consists of a long, rotating arm set on a central pivot point. Sprinklers are linked to the arm and distribute water as the device rotates, resulting in a circular watering pattern. Centre pivot systems are commonly employed in large-scale agriculture because they cover a broad area with generally equal water distribution.
Lateral Move Irrigation:
Lateral move irrigation systems are made up of a network of pipelines with sprinklers set on mobile towers that move in a straight line over the field. Wheels or hydraulic systems might be used to propel the towers. Lateral move irrigation, like center pivot irrigation, is best suited for rectangular fields and provides equal water distribution.
Vertical farming and hydroponics:
These both make use of controlled surroundings and soilless growing techniques. Drip or misting systems distribute water and nutritional solutions straight to the plant roots. These technologies, which provide fine control over water supply and fertilizer absorption, are widely utilized in urban agriculture and greenhouse production.
Each irrigation system has benefits and drawbacks, and the choice is influenced by factors such as crop type, soil conditions, water availability, and environmental sustainability. Farmers and agricultural experts evaluate these elements to choose the best solution for their individual needs.
Developments in irrigation
Irrigation techniques and technology have advanced significantly over the years to improve water efficiency, reduce water waste, and increase agricultural output. Here are some important irrigation developments:
Irrigation with Accuracy:
Precision irrigation focuses on precisely providing the correct quantity of water to crops when and where it is required. This method optimizes irrigation scheduling and water application by utilizing modern sensors, meteorological data, and soil moisture monitoring.
The use of sensors in irrigation systems has revolutionized agricultural water management. Real-time data on soil conditions, crop water requirements, and environmental parameters provided via soil moisture sensors, weather stations, and plant-based sensors. This information assists farmers in making educated decisions about irrigation time and length, decreasing water wastage, and eliminating under and over-irrigation.
Irrigation Scheduling Software:
The advancement of modern irrigation scheduling technologies, which are frequently based on computer models and algorithms, has aided in effective water management. To develop optimized irrigation schedules, these technologies take into account aspects such as crop type, growth stage, soil moisture levels, and weather forecasts. Farmers will be able to make more educated decisions about when and how much water to apply, resulting in water conservation and increased crop health.
Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI):
VRI is a system that allows different water rates, applied within a field dependent on crop and soil conditions. VRI optimizes water distribution by separating the field into zones and applying varied water volumes based on the demands of each zone. This method is especially beneficial in fields with changing soil types, terrain, or crop water needs.
Mobile and remote monitoring devices:
Mobile and remote monitoring devices enable farmers to access and operate their irrigation systems from anywhere. Farmers may monitor soil moisture levels, regulate irrigation schedules, and alter system settings from anywhere using mobile applications or web-based platforms. This technology offers ease, real-time data, and the capacity to adjust quickly to changing conditions, resulting in more effective water consumption.
Automated irrigation systems use technology like sensors, timers, and control systems to handle irrigation operations automatically. These systems configures to respond to certain situations or predetermined timetables, removing the need for user intervention. Irrigation automation increases water efficiency while decreasing labor needs and ensuring uniform and accurate water application.
Intelligent Irrigation Controllers:
Weather data, soil moisture information, and plant water requirements are all combined by smart irrigation controllers to change irrigation schedules accordingly. These controllers collect real-time data and enable automated, adaptive irrigation control via wireless connection and cloud-based platforms. Smart controllers optimize water consumption, adjust to changing weather patterns, and may access and manage remotely via mobile devices.
Solar-powered irrigation systems run irrigation pumps and systems on solar energy. This strategy minimizes reliance on fossil fuels, lowers operational costs, and promotes sustainability. Solar-powered pumps and controls are especially useful in distant places without access to power grids, allowing for effective irrigation in off-grid situations.
These irrigation advancements have helped to conserve water, increase crop yields, decrease environmental impact, and promote agricultural sustainability. Farmers may optimize water usage, reduce water waste, and fulfill the rising demand for food while maintaining effective resource management by implementing these improvements.
Finally, irrigation is critical in contemporary agriculture because it provides water to crops when natural rainfall is insufficient or unexpected. Insufficient rainfall, crop water requirements, soil features, seasonal fluctuations, drought management, precision agriculture, crop diversity, and growing food demand all contribute to the need for irrigation.
Various irrigation systems used to distribute water efficiently and successfully to crops. These include surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation, subsurface irrigation, center pivot irrigation, lateral move irrigation, vertical farming, and hydroponic irrigation technologies. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, and the decision influences by factors like water availability, crop variety, geography, and economic concerns.
Farmers may improve water conservation, raise crop yields, and preserve the long-term viability of agricultural practices by embracing these advancements and employing proper irrigation systems. Irrigation is still an important instrument for guaranteeing food security, boosting economic growth, and alleviating the issues caused by water shortages and climatic unpredictability in agriculture.