Role of water in Agriculture

Role of water in Agriculture


Third-fourth of the earth is covered by water. But not all of this is directly usable because most of the water among this is salty. Out of 97.5% of water only 2.5 % is fresh or drinking water. It plays a critical role in agriculture as it is essential for the growth and development of crops. Without an adequate water supply, plants cannot carry out photosynthesis.It is the process that allows them to produce the energy they need to grow and bear fruit.

In addition, water helps transport nutrients and minerals from the soil to the plant, and also regulates the plant’s temperature through transpiration.
In areas where rainfall is insufficient or unreliable, irrigation is used to supply water to crops. Irrigation can increase crop yields and improve the quality of crops, leading to increased food production and economic benefits for farmers.

However, water resources are finite, and there is increasing competition for water between different sectors, including agriculture, industry, and domestic use. Climate change is also affecting water availability and quality, further emphasizing the need for sustainable water management practices in agriculture.

To ensure sustainable water use in agriculture, farmers and policymakers need to adopt practices that maximize water use efficiency, such as drip irrigation, precision agriculture, and rainwater harvesting. This can help conserve water resources, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, and improve the resilience of farming communities in the face of changing weather patterns and water availability.

Common uses of water in agriculture

Water is used in agriculture for a variety of purposes, including:


This is the most common use of water in agriculture. Irrigation is the process of applying water to crops to supplement natural rainfall and ensure that plants receive adequate moisture to grow and produce. Different methods of irrigation include flood irrigation, drip irrigation, and sprinkler irrigation.

Livestock watering

Water is also needed for livestock to drink and for their hygiene. This includes watering animals and providing them with adequate drinking water, as well as washing them and their living spaces.

Soil preparation

Water is used to prepare soil for planting crops, such as by moistening it to make it easier to till or by flooding the land to control weeds and pests.

Harvesting and processing

Water is used in the harvesting and processing of crops, such as washing, sorting, and cleaning fruits and vegetables.

Cooling and cleaning

Water is used to cool down equipment, such as milking machines, and to clean equipment and facilities used in agriculture.


Water is used for aquaculture, which involves raising fish and other aquatic organisms in ponds, tanks, or other bodies of water.

Overall, water is a crucial resource in agriculture, and its efficient use and management are essential for sustainable agricultural practices.

Where does agricultural water come from?

Agricultural water can come from a variety of sources, including:

Surface water:

This includes water from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Surface water is often used for irrigation in agriculture, as it is readily available and can be easily transported to the fields.


This refers to water that is stored underground in aquifers. Groundwater can be accessed through wells and is often used for irrigation in areas where surface water is limited or unavailable.


In some areas, rainfall is sufficient to support crop growth, and rainwater is the primary source of agricultural water.Otherwise, people also carry rainwater harvesting and use it for irrigation and other purposes.

Recycled water:

This refers to wastewater that has been treated to remove contaminants and can be reused for irrigation. Recycled water is becoming an increasingly important source of agricultural water, particularly in areas with limited water resources.

Desalinated water:

In coastal areas, seawater can be desalinated to produce freshwater for agricultural use. However, desalination is an energy-intensive process and can be costly.

The source of agricultural water depends on a variety of factors, including local water resources, climatic conditions, and the availability of infrastructure to transport and distribute water to farms. Sustainable water management practices, including water conservation and reuse, are essential to ensure that agricultural water resources are used efficiently and sustainably.

The importance of good quality water in agriculture

Good quality water is essential in agriculture as it can have a significant impact on crop growth, yield, and quality. Poor water quality can harm crops and reduce their productivity, leading to economic losses for farmers.
Here are some reasons why good quality water is important in agriculture:

Nutrient uptake:

Plants need water to absorb nutrients from the soil. If the water is contaminated or has a high salt content, it can interfere with the uptake of nutrients and harm plant growth.

Disease control:

Contaminated water can contain pathogens that can infect plants and lead to diseases. Using good quality water for irrigation can help prevent the spread of plant diseases.

Soil structure:

Water quality can affect soil structure, which can impact plant growth. For example, high levels of sodium in irrigation water can cause soil to become compacted, reducing its ability to hold water and nutrients.

Yield and quality:

The quality of water used for irrigation can impact crop yield and quality. High-quality water can help produce healthy and high-yielding crops, while poor quality water can result in stunted growth, reduced yield, and lower-quality produce.

Environmental impact:

Poor water quality in agriculture can also have negative impacts on the environment, such as contaminating surface and groundwater resources and harming aquatic ecosystems.

Overall, good quality water is essential in agriculture to support healthy plant growth, prevent the spread of diseases, and ensure high-quality and productive crops. Farmers should implement water quality testing and management practices to ensure that the water they use for irrigation is of good quality and free from contaminants.

Water for livestock:

Water is essential for livestock to drink and maintain their health. Providing clean and adequate water to livestock is important for their hydration, digestion, and metabolism. Livestock also use water for hygiene purposes, such as bathing and cooling themselves during hot weather.
Access to clean water can improve livestock health, increase milk production in dairy cows, and improve the weight gain and meat quality in beef cattle. Farmers should ensure that livestock always have access to clean and fresh water, which can be achieved through automatic watering systems or manual watering methods.

Water for plants and crops:

Water is a critical component of plant growth and development, and crops require adequate water to produce healthy and productive yields. The amount of water needed by plants varies depending on factors such as the crop type, soil type, and climate. Irrigation is the most common method of supplying water to crops, and farmers can use different irrigation techniques such as drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, or flood irrigation, depending on their water availability and crop requirements.

In addition to irrigation, farmers can implement water management practices such as mulching, cover cropping, and soil moisture monitoring. This can improve water use efficiency and reduce water waste. Adequate and timely water supply can improve crop yield, quality, and resistance to stressors such as drought and extreme temperatures. This ultimately results in increased agricultural productivity and profitability.

What disinfectant can you apply to Agricultural water?

There are various disinfectants that can be applied to agricultural water to ensure its safety for use in irrigation and other agricultural purposes. Here are some commonly used disinfectants:

  • Chlorine
  • Ozone
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Peracetic Acid

The choice of disinfectant will depend on various factors. These are type of microorganisms present, the quality of the water, and the method of application. Farmers should consult with water treatment professionals to determine the most appropriate disinfectant for their agricultural water.


Water plays a critical role in agriculture, and its management have significant impacts on crop growth, yield, and quality. Providing good quality water to livestock is essential for their health and productivity. Farmers must ensure that the water they use for irrigation and other agricultural purposes is safe and free from contaminants.

It can be done by implementing water quality testing and management practices. Various disinfectants, such as chlorine, ozone, UV light, hydrogen peroxide, and peracetic acid, ensures the safety of agricultural water. Proper water management practices can help farmers maximize the efficient use of water and promote sustainable agriculture.

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