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Everything You Need to Know about Irrigation Systems

Water is the most vital source for the survival of all the species present on the planet. Around 70% of the human body and 90% of the plant bodies consist of water. Despite the high percentage, we have to rely on outside sources to fulfil the water requirements of our bodies. Likewise, even plants require water for their overall growth and development. 

The process of water supply to the plants is called irrigation. The concept of irrigation acts as a boon for the plants as it helps fulfil their water requirements. 

Now, let’s shift our focus toward the goal and importance of irrigation systems to know more about the concept. 


Purpose of Irrigation

The main motive behind introducing the concept of irrigation is to ensure a proper water supply to the plants at the required time. The adequate water supply in the soil directly influences the growth process of the plants. It will have a positive impact the entire growth process. Starting from seedbed preparation to root growth to plant growth to yield and quality. 

Now that we know about the purpose, let’s shift our focus towards the importance of irrigation in agriculture. 


 Importance of Irrigation

The concept of irrigation occupies a special place in agriculture as it dates back over 5000 years and has helped many cultures develop across the globe. The importance of irrigation can be determined by the fact that it helps in crop growth, conserves landscapes, and repopulates disturbed soils. 

Apart from these, irrigation helps protect crops from frost, conquer weed growth, and prevent soil consolidation

Let’s shift our focus on the types of irrigation systems now that we know about the purpose and importance of irrigation. 


 Types of Irrigation Systems

Multiple irrigation methods help improve crop yields. The choice of irrigation system depends on the climate, soil types, crops that will be grown, and other resources. Even though there are multiple options available in the market, we will be discussing the important and demanded options. They are: 

  • Surface Irrigation 
  • Overhead (Sprinkler) Irrigation

Let’s focus our attention towards the types of irrigation systems for a better understanding. 


Surface Irrigation

The term surface irrigation refers to a system that involves delivering water to crops via gravity.  It is the most common form of irrigation practice adopted by farmers across the globe and continues to be used now. 

It is also called flood irrigation. As the name implies, it involves uncontrolled water distribution, highlighting its inefficiency. 

The subtypes of surface irrigation are: 

  • Basin
  • Border
  • Furrow 

It’s time to discuss them in detail. 


Basin Surface Irrigation

The basin surface irrigation system comprises diked or level areas that receive erratic water flow. The basin size ranges from only a few square feet to a maximum of 100 square feet. The soil surface inside the basin is folded to make water distribution smooth. This mode of irrigation is appropriate for crops that can tolerate water overflow. 

Border Surface Irrigation

The borrow irrigation consists of a rectangular shape and a sloping surface. Along with these, it also has free drainage flow. It is ideal for irrigating all crops except rice and other crops that require pond water to grow.

 Furrow Surface Irrigation

Furrow irrigation involves channelling the soil surface and forming the furrows. It helps direct the flow and avoids water flooding in the entire farm. The biggest advantage of this mode of irrigation system is that it provides better water management control. 

It’s time to discuss the pros and cons of surface irrigation to gain more information on the same.


The advantages associated with surface irrigation are: 

  1. Management is easy and can be constructed on traditional knowledge. The formation does not require the use of modern technology. 
  2. They are ideal for small land holdings and don’t require high financial inputs.
  3. They smoothly adapt to flat topography. Moreover, they can function without outlet drainage space. 
  4. It is compatible with short-term water supplies. 
  5. This mode of irrigation allows for the utilisation of rainwater. 
  6. They can effortlessly adapt to moderate-to-low infiltration rates. It allows for easy salt leaching. 


Every good thing comes with some disadvantages as well. Some of the disadvantages associated with surface irrigation are: 

  1. It requires even more land to achieve higher efficiency. 
  2. This mode is difficult to apply to small irrigation quantities. The reason is that it is difficult to evacuate excess water, especially during rainfall. 
  3. An extensive delivery channel is required by the small basins.


Overhead (Sprinkler) Irrigation

The overhead sprinkler irrigation involves applying irrigation water much like rainfall. A system of pipes spreads the water via pumping or through the pressurised water supplies. The water is then sprinkled in the air and covers the entire soil surface. The surface is covered through spray heads. It allows for breaking the water into drops that fall to the ground. 

The subtypes of overhead sprinkler irrigation system are: 

  • Drip Irrigation
  • Central Pivot  
  • Impact Sprinklers

 Let’s discuss them in detail. 


 Drip Irrigation

It is considered a water-efficient system. The reason is that it allows only a trickle of water to reach the desired area. It releases small amounts of water and is ideal for sensitive foliage and plants. 

Center Pivot Irrigation

Center pivot sprinkler irrigation is widely used to water crops. It is highly efficient in terms of water usage and ensures uniform water distribution. It ensures all parts of the field receive the same quantity of water. 

 Impact Sprinklers

It is highly efficient and effective, as it helps distribute water over a larger area. It ensures that plants are receiving an even amount of water. This is necessary for the growth and health of the plants. 

Now let’s discuss the pros and cons of sprinkler irrigation. 



The advantages associated with the sprinkler system are:

  1. It does not require terracing. 
  2. It is suitable for all soil types except heavy clay. 
  3. It is ideal for irrigating crops where the plant population per area is very high. 
  4. It influences the conducive micro-climate. 
  5. The farmers can use soluble chemicals and fertilisers.



The disadvantages of the sprinkler system are: 

  1. It involves high operation costs. 
  2. It is sensitive to winds and causes evaporation losses. 
  3. Clogging can happen due to debris and sediment. 
  4. The higher energy requirements cause greater operational costs, which in turn causes higher capital costs. 

Now that we know about the irrigation systems and their types, let us shift our focus towards water sources and management. 


 Water Sources and Management

Water resource management is an intricate process that involves planning, developing, and maintaining water sources. It focuses on both quality and quantity across all water uses.

The different water sources are:



  • It is available in underground regions.
  • It is accessible through springs and wells.
  • It is the leading source of irrigation and drinking water.



  • They naturally occur when groundwater drains to the surface.
  • Their primary sources are mountainous or hilly regions.
  • They are used as drinking water in rural areas.



  • Wells are human-designed structures designed to access groundwater.
  • They can be either shallow or deep. It all depends on the aquifer.
  • They are available in rural and urban areas.


Surface Water

  • They consist of lakes, rivers, streams, and reservoirs.
  • It is easier to extract and directly accessible.
  • They are a vital source of irrigation, industrial use, and drinking water.



  • They are flowing water bodies that collect excessive water from land.
  • They provide water for irrigation, transportation, hydropower, and drinking water.  



  • They are still large water bodies.
  • They provide water for recreation and drinking. Moreover, they provide water to support local ecosystems.


Treated Wastewater

  • It is recycled water collected from industrial processes and sewage.
  • The water is treated to remove contaminants from it.
  • It is used for industrial processes, irrigation, and replenishing groundwater.

Let’s turn our attention to preserving water and avoiding overuse.


Importance of Water Conservation

The concept of water conservation is important because:


  • It helps ensure the availability of water resources for future generations.
  • It helps prevent the depletion of surface water and groundwater sources.

 Environmental Protection

  • It helps maintain the health of biodiversity and the ecosystem.
  • It reduces the strain on wetlands, lakes, and rivers.

 Economic Benefits

  • It helps reduce costs associated with water treatment and distribution.
  • It lowers the energy consumption required for water extraction and purification.

Improved Water Quality

  • Minimising runoffs and water discharges reduces water pollution.
  • The quality of water bodies is enhanced, making them safe for drinking and recreation.


Avoiding Overuse

Avoiding water overuse can lead to severe consequences, like no water on the planet. It is necessary to dodge the situation. Some of the discrete methods are:

 Efficient Water Use

  • It involves implementing water-saving technologies. The implementation is necessary in industry, agriculture, and households.
  • Promotion of usage of drip irrigation, water-efficient appliances, and low-flow fixtures.

Public Awareness and Education

  • It focuses on promoting water conservation practices.
  • Moreover, it also focuses on educating people about the importance of sustainable water usage.

Regulation and Policy

  • It involves enforcing laws and regulations that promote conservation and put a limit on water extraction.
  • It also includes providing incentives to people who adopt water-saving measures.

Infrastructure Improvement

  • It focuses on repairing leaks in the water distribution system.
  • Moreover, it also focuses on building infrastructure to support efficient water storage and use.

We can ensure a sustainable and stable water supply by prioritising conservation and effectively understanding and managing our water sources. 


 Final Thoughts

As we conclude the blog, it’s time to revise some facts to ensure we know what we have read. Our initial discussion began with understanding the concept and purpose of the irrigation system, and we read about its importance, types, and much more. To sum up, it is necessary to realise that we must value the water and the sources where it is available. The reason for significance is that it’s a crucial source of our survival, and our actions can lead to its depletion. So, let’s focus our attention on its conservation and save as much as we can for future generations. Our actions today can affect future generations. Act wisely!!



Q.1. What is an Irrigation System?

An irrigation system is a method that focuses on artificially supplying water to crops, gardens, etc. for their growth and development. It acts as compensation for less rainfall. 


Q.2. Why is Irrigation important?

Irrigation plays a crucial role in maintaining crop yields, especially during irregular rainfalls or droughts. It helps ensure a constant water supply for crops and plant growth. 


Q.3. What are the different types of Irrigation?

There are many types of irrigation systems available in the market, but the main two types rule the market. They are:

Surface Irrigation: Water distribution over the soil is done via gravity. It further includes basin, border, and furrow irrigation.

Overhead or Sprinkler Irrigation: In this irrigation mode, the nozzles release the water through pressure. It covers the entire area like rain. 


Q.4. How does Surface Irrigation work? 

In simple terms, surface irrigation involves flooding water on the field. Basin, border, or furrow evenly distribute the water across the field. 


Q.5. What are the advantages of Sprinkler Irrigation?

The advantages of installing sprinkler irrigation are: 

  • It provides uniform water distribution. 
  • It allows for flexibility in adjusting water application rates.
  • It is suitable for various terrains and crops. 

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