Irrigation System: Types, Methods and Importance

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irrigation system

All living creatures require water and so do plants. Plants get their water supply from an irrigation system.

Irrigation is watering crops by means of an external source such as sprinklers and pipes rather than only depending on rainwater.

Therefore, irrigation is a mostly man-made way of providing water to plants and crops.

Though, it is not restricted to water as you can so provide essential nutrients to plants through irrigation.

This article discusses Irrigation and its types. Keep reading to know more!


irrigation system on land

What is Irrigation?

An irrigation system is basically a means of providing water to plants and crops through man-made resources when the plants cannot sustain on rainfall.

Some natural sources of irrigation are ponds, canals, and lakes but there can be others as well such as dams, sprinklers, and tube-wells that help irrigate the plants.

Irrigation can save crops where there is seasonal and barely any rainfall.

It will sustain agriculture in that area so that they do not have to rely on their sparse rainfall to cultivate and harvest crops.

Additionally, it allows the farmer community to consistently grow crops as it increases food production, crop quality and growth.

Irrigation is not a new practice, in fact, it has been going on for years.

In order to sustain lives and civilizations, ancient people supplied water to crops through wells and rivers by filling buckets.

With advancements in knowledge and technology, people built dams and other similar water storage facilities.

The Ancient Romans were known to bring water from snowmelt to cities through aqueducts to provide water for basic use as well as irrigation.

Irrigation gives a steady water supply to the plants and multipurpose crops that help to maintain their moisture and assist in their development as well as germination.

The time, as well as frequency and amount of irrigation, will differ according to the type of crop you plant, the season and soil.

Summer crops will require more irrigation water than winter crops.

Modern irrigation methods are much different from ancient ones.

They include reservoirs, tanks, and dams to supply water. More on this later!

First, let’s find out about the different types of irrigation.

man using a type of irrigation system


Types of Irrigation System

The purpose of irrigation is to improve crop yield and increase production.

There can be different systems depending on the type and quality of the soil as well as the resources available and whether it suits the crops.

These include:

  • Localized Irrigation

Plants get water supply through a system of pipes with very little pressure.

  • Microirrigation or Drip Irrigation

As the name suggests, the system provides drops of water to the Root Zone of the plant.

It is a planned irrigation type that uses applicators such as emitters and perforated pipes.

The water is supplied in low pressure through the applicator which is below the ground or on the surface.

However, this type of system is hardly in use and requires proper maintenance.

  • Sub Irrigation

This supplies water below the surface of the ground.

You need to raise the water table for the distribution of water through canals and pumping station gates, near the roots.

Or you could also use perforated pipes as a water source that go directly to the root zone.

  • Surface Irrigation/Flood Irrigation

Water gets to all plants because of gravity. No pump or system is required to provide water to all crops.

This is also called the flood or furrow method. Pond water covers the entire soil surface.

It is as simple as collecting water from a well in a bucket and pouring it into the entire field.

This is an ancient type of irrigation method that does not supply water to crop separately.

Water is either manually brought to the fields or pumped there and flows through different crops without any external help.

However, it still retains its popularity and is one of the most common types of irrigation as it does not use any technology so is energy efficient and cheap.

This simple method is widely used in developing countries and is effective.

  • Surge Flooding

Traditional flooding irrigation just allows water to flow seamlessly to the crops, however, that results in unwanted runoff of water and wastage.

Surge flooding allows water to be released at pre-arranged levels which does not result in any water wastage and unwanted runoff.

With water scarcity in the world, it is better to waste as little water as possible.

  • Sprinkler Irrigation

This system involves the flow of water from sprinkler heads which are either on a central location or any moving platform.

These sprinklers are actually perforated pipes and nozzles.

When water flows through them with the pressure they release water in the form of spray reaching a wider area.

This is a modern method with automatic irrigation without an irrigation controller but is quite expensive.

  • Centre Pivot

This type also uses a sprinkler system but one that moves.

The sprinkler pipe automatically rotates as water is supplied to the pivot point of this system.

This pipe is placed above the crops and sprays and sprinkles water in a circular pattern.

This is done by the mechanical and electric power on the wheels that allow the water to be sprayed uniformly at a fixed angle.

Water goes uniformly because of the increased nozzle size that goes from the pivot to the end line.

This system can irrigate around 130 acres of the circular area and will have a water depth of up to 1300 feet long.

  • Manual Labor

Using manual labor for irrigation is an ancient practice.

However, it may still be in use in developing countries.

This is a time-consuming method to provide water to plants and crops through manual labor.

The labor will distribute water through watering cans.

Hence, it requires a lot of time and is labor-intensive as well.

methods of giving water to plants in field

Methods of Irrigation System?

Irrigation can be widely divided into two categories, Traditional and Modern Irrigation.

Traditional methods include manual labor or the farmer does it themselves.

They carry water from rivers or nearby wells and drip it on the crops.

Though, there is a lot of water loss and uneven distribution even if this method is cheap and labor-intensive.

Modern methods help to reduce water loss and provide water to a large area.

One such modern method is Sprinkler Irrigation.

water sprinklers on field


Sprinkler Irrigation

The sprinklers provide water in the form of droplets all across the field.

This system maintains the balance of the groundwater, avoids wastage and runoff, and there is no waterlogging.

In this method, water passes from the tube wells to the pipelines that are connected to the main pipeline.

Water is given under high pressure which sprays through in the form of tiny droplets.

This method is ideal for places where there is less water or where the ground is uneven.

It is also the need for time in places where there is fluctuating humidity, temperature change and environment.

The spray will eventually reach the entire farming field as it distributes water evenly.

This irrigation system might be expensive but it has many advantages. 

Constant spraying of water on the land improves the soil, its composition and conserves it. Hence, it increases the productivity of the soil.

While it improves the soil it does not harm its physical condition but maintains it.

Also, it protects the yield from extreme temperatures.

Moreover, this system also facilitates the application of fertilizer and insecticide on crops.

Another method of Modern Irrigation is Drip Irrigation Systems.

dripping water


Drip Irrigation

This method is also used to supply water in the form of tiny droplets to the field.

It uses narrow pipes laid all around the field to provide water to the roots of the crops in drops.

When these roots absorb water they supply it to the rest of the crop and plant.

This method utilizes the Root Zone and gives water directly to where it is needed. Hence, there is no water wastage.

Drip Irrigation increases crop yield and minimizes wastage.

This water can be used for other irrigating and harvesting purposes.

Since the water only reaches the roots so there are no weeds and bacterial growth.

Hence, you may not require any pesticides to get rid of the pests which will now not be able to invade your harvest.

Both these methods save water and limit its use for agricultural purposes.

Hence, these systems can be considered eco-friendly and can facilitate crop yield.

irrigation system importance on a flower land


Importance of Irrigation System

Now that you know different systems and their use you must realize how much these are beneficial to farmers and the general public.

Areas that do not get adequate rainfall benefit from irrigation.

Moreover, areas that have drier climates and droughts can still carry on their agriculture if there is irrigation in place. Otherwise, it may lead to a famine.

Constant irrigation also conserves the soil and makes it fertile.

Hence, irrigated land will show more productivity and yield than un-irrigated land.

This also means that the output and yield levels can be stabilized.

Moreover, irrigation also increases the water supply in that area.

This leads to more production and higher income for agriculturists and farmers.

Irrigation also facilitates multiple cropping and water availability is not limited to a certain time period.


Irrigation helps to increase crop yield and harvest efficiently and effectively.

It is almost inevitable for farmers and agriculturists to have use irrigation in these uncertain times.

As global warming increases, more farmers will rely on an irrigation system that on rain to harvest their crops.

Moreover, you can also use irrigation installs and certain watering systems for vegetable gardening.

You can do this simply by applying water through a garden hose regularly to your plants.

This way you can easily control the amount of water you provide to plant roots.

Hence, you can make use of irrigation for both personal and professional reasons.

If you found this article useful, let us know in the comments.









14 thoughts on “Irrigation System: Types, Methods and Importance

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  14. sprinkler irrigation system

    Excellent post! Thanks for sharing such brief information about irrigation systems. Irrigation system helps in agricultural growth, landscape maintenance and reduces the water wastage. Keep sharing more information,

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