Irrigation is an important part of agriculture as it assists the growth and development of various plants and crops. Irrigation systems are commonly used for irrigation by farmers all over the world. Irrigation, unlike drought or rainfall based irrigation methods, is designed to keep the land irrigated in dry regions and during times of less than normal rainfall. The purpose of irrigation is to help direct and moisture-laden water to the necessary plant roots and also assist the development of the land by keeping it healthy and conducive for the growth of different natural resources and living organisms.
There are several types of irrigation systems that are commonly used on a large scale throughout agriculture. The two primary types of irrigation systems are surface water and groundwater or floodwater systems. In surface water irrigation, water is distributed on the surface of the land through channels or lines. This system is generally used for small fields and is highly effective in low-lying areas with steep slopes. Surface water helps keep the plants from becoming too dry and encourages the growth of desirable organisms like vines and grasses that thrive in moderate to heavy precipitation climates.
Groundwater irrigation systems operate under a principle of the runoff of water from slopes to a lower level. These systems are used on larger scales in desert regions where large amounts of soil must be moved to create a water source. Water is distributed to the plants in a thick blanket of soil. This blanket of soil, known as a furrow, is filled with organic material such as sand or bone meal to hold the soil in place. An irrigation system like this is highly productive and requires very little maintenance. However, it can only be used if the proper conditions for the furrow are created.
In contrast, the groundwater system involves little physical work by the farmer and provides the best chance for a successful harvest. This system does not require the excavation of large volumes of soil. Instead, a continuous conveyor belt or a tiller is used to move the soil through the plants, nutrient processors, and storage bins where the nutrients are extracted for use by the crops. There is virtually no cultivation required by this method because all the nutrients are contained in the soil. Farmers can use a smaller tiller or a plow to get into the dirt when necessary.
Overhead irrigation is another major source of plant nutrition. A layer of soil, called the canopy, is over the seeds waiting to be planted so that the plant has an adequate protection against the sun’s rays. When the rains come, the canopy is removed so that the soil may absorb the water. This type of irrigation system depends largely on gravity to help distribute the water.
Irrigation management is a process to manage the flow of irrigation water. The majority of farmers do not practice irrigation management. This process requires precision timing of the application of irrigation water. There is a great deal of information available on this subject on the internet. Some websites focus on agriculture, irrigation management, or landscape design; others offer information on crops and weed control.