Irrigation is the method of artificially adding water to crops in order to satisfy their water requirements. Irrigation may also be used to provide nutrients to the crops. Wells, reservoirs, lakes, canals, tube-wells, and even dams are some of the water sources for irrigation. Irrigation provides the necessary moisture for growth, development, germination, and other related functions.
For different crops, the frequency, rate, amount and time of irrigation are different and also vary according to soil types and seasons. Summer crops, for example, need considerably more water than winter crops.
Types of Irrigation
There are various forms of irrigation that are used to increase crop yield. Irrigation systems are used in various ways depending on the soils, ecosystems, crops, and resources available. Farmers use a number of irrigation techniques, including:
No irrigation pump is involved in that system. Here, by gravity, water is spread across the surface.
In this scheme, via a network of pipes under low pressure, water is added to each plant.
In this form, drops of water are distributed close to the plants’ roots. As it needs further maintenance, this method of irrigation is rarely used.
Centre Pivot Irrigation
In this, the water is distributed by a sprinkler system moving in a circular pattern.
By elevating the water table, water is distributed through a series of pumping stations, fences, ditches and canals.
This a labour intensive and time-consuming system of irrigation. Here, the water is distributed through watering cans by manual labour.
Methods of Irrigation
Irrigation can be carried out by two different methods:
Traditional Methods of Irrigation
Irrigation is done manually in this process. A farmer draws water from wells or canals by hand or with the aid of cattle and transports it to agricultural fields. Depending on the area, this approach can differ.
The key benefit of this approach is its low cost. However, because of the uneven distribution of water, its efficiency is poor. Furthermore, there is a high risk of water depletion.
Pulley systems, lever systems, and chain pumps are examples of conventional systems. The pump system is the most popular and widely used of these.
Modern Methods of Irrigation
The modern method compensates the disadvantages of traditional methods and thus helps in the proper way of water usage.
The modern method involves two systems:
A sprinkler device, as the name indicates, sprays water on the crop to ensure even water distribution. In areas where water is scarce, this approach is strongly recommended.
Water is sprayed via nozzles of pipes after a pump is connected to pipes that create pressure.
The water supply is done drop by drop at the roots using a hose or pipe in the drip system. This approach can also be used in places where there is a shortage of water.
Importance of Irrigation
The importance of irrigation can be explained in the following points:
- Insufficient and uncertain rainfall adversely affects agriculture. Droughts and famines are caused due to low rainfall. Irrigation helps to increase productivity even in low rainfall.
- The productivity of irrigated land is higher as compared to the un-irrigated land.
- Multiple cropping is not possible in India because the rainy season is specific in most of the regions. However, the climate supports cultivation throughout the year. Irrigation facilities make it possible to grow more than one crop in most of the areas of the country.
- Irrigation has helped to bring most of the fallow land under cultivation.
- Irrigation has stabilized the output and yield levels.
- Irrigation increases the availability of water supply, which in turn increases the income of the farmers.
Irrigation should be as effective as possible, as even excessive irrigation can affect crop production. Waterlogging hindered germination, increased salt accumulation, and uprooting is all effects of excess water because roots cannot tolerate standing water. As a consequence, the best cultivation method should be used.