Irrigation has been a central feature of agriculture for over 5,000 years as humans have been cultivating plants. Historically, it was the basis for economies and societies across the globe. Irrigation is the controlled application of water for farming purposes through manmade systems to supply water requirements not satisfied by rainfall.
Irrigation is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall. It also has a few other uses in crop production, which include protecting plants against frost, suppressing weed growth in grain fields and preventing soil consolidation.
Crop irrigation is vital throughout the world in order to provide the world's ever-growing populations with enough food. Many different irrigation methods are used worldwide, including:
- Center-Pivot: automated sprinkler irrigation achieved by automatically rotating the sprinkler pipe or boom
- Drip: a planned irrigation system in which water is applied directly to the root zone of plants by means of applicators
- Flood: the application of irrigation water where the entire surface of the soil is covered by ponded water
- Furrow: A partial surface flooding method of irrigation normally used with clean-tilled crops where water is applied in furrows or rows of sufficient capacity
- Sprinkler: a planned irrigation system in which water is applied by means of perforated pipes or nozzles operated under pressure so as to form a spray pattern
Irrigation systems are often designed to maximize efficiencies and minimize labor 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.
A large number of considerations must be taken into account in the selection of an irrigation system; location, crop type, environment conditions, and farmer. The irrigation system for a field or a farm must be also compatible with the other existing farm operations, such as land preparation, cultivation, and harvest.
Sprinkler and drip irrigation, because of their high capital investment per hectare, are mostly used for high- value cash crops, such as vegetables and fruit trees. Drip irrigation is also suited to irrigating individual plants or trees or row crops such as vegetables and sugarcane. It is not suitable for close growing crops (e.g. rice). Basin irrigation is used for paddy rice farming, but it can be also used for maize, sorghum, trees. Furrow irrigation is used for irrigating row crops such as maize, vegetables and trees while border irrigation is particularly suitable for close growing crops such as alfalfa, but it can also be used for row crops and trees.
|Method of Irrigation||Type of Crops Suited|
|Border||Wheat, leafy vegetables, fodders (alfalfa)|
|Furrow||Cotton, maize, potato, sunflower, soybean, tomato|
|Basin (flood)||Paddy rice, maize|
|Drip||Vegetables, fruit trees, sugarcane|
|Sprinkler||Vegetables, fruit trees|
|Center-Pivot (overhead sprinkler)||Row and field crops (vegetables, arable crops)|
The irrigation sector claims about 70 % of the freshwater withdrawals worldwide. Irrigation can offer crop yields that are two to four times greater than is possible with rainfed farming, and it currently provides 40% of the world’s food from approximately 20% of all agricultural land. According to research from 2010, countries with the largest irrigated areas are India (39 million hectares), China (19 million), and the United States (17 million).
In irrigation is also important to track activities on all fields and crop productions or farms. Every time you irrigate your crops, you can enter this data into Agrivi farm system and track spent amounts of water per field with related cost. Water usage per crop production and field can be viewed and analyzed on a daily basis in Agrivi analytics and also printed out through Agrivi reports.
Choose the irrigation system best suited for your crop production and use Agrivi farm management system to boost your farm production.