Importance of Sprinkler System

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Irrigation is the controlled application of water for agricultural purposes through artificial systems to supply water requirements not satisfied by rainfall. Crop irrigation is vital worldwide to provide enough food to the world’s ever-growing population. Several different irrigation methods like drip irrigation, center-pivot irrigation, and sprinkler irrigation are practiced. All irrigation techniques have their pros and cons.

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Here we will discuss everything about sprinkler systems.

What is Sprinkler System Irrigation

Sprinkler irrigation is one of the pressurized irrigation methods. In the sprinkler method, water gets sprayed into the air and falls on the ground surface giving the impression of rainfall. Water flow develops the water spray under pressure through small nozzles or orifices. The pressure created by the pump makes the water flow out through the sprinkler nozzles at high speed.

These nozzles are mounted on the pressurized pipe system. It would be best if you had to carefully select nozzle sizes, sprinkler pipe spacing, operating pressure, and nozzle spacing. The amount of water required to fill the crop root zone can be applied uniformly at the sprinkling rate to suit the soil’s infiltration rate.

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Pipes used for the sprinkler system are generally light in weight and can be installed conveniently. Subsequently, you can transport it in the field from one place to another. The pipes need to be flexible, durable, crack and impact-proof, and capable of sustaining the desired pressure and temperature.

Sprinkler systems offer better livelihood to farmers by maximizing land productivity, saving excess water and fertilizers, and revitalizing the soil with essential nutrients. The sprinkler irrigation systems ensure reliability, high quality, affordability, ease of installation, and maximum water saving.

Components of a Sprinkler System

A typical sprinkler irrigation system comprises of the following components:

  • Pumping station or Header Assembly
  • By-pass valve
  • Fertilizer tank
  • Filtration system
  • Pressure gauges
  • Control valves
  • HDPE / PVC Pipes
  • QRC Pump connector
  • Sprinkler Nozzles
  • Service Saddle

The sprinkler system can be categorized into three types depending on precipitation rates. The precipitation rate is measured in terms of mm per hour. A low-volume sprinkler system has a precipitation rate of less than 13 mm per hour.

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A medium-volume sprinkler system has a precipitation rate between 13 mm per hour to 25 mm per hour. Finally, we have a rain gun or large volume sprinkler with a precipitation rate of more than 25 mm per hour.

Advantages of Sprinkler System

  • In sprinkler irrigation, the water flows through the network of pipes from the source to the field. Consequently, it minimizes the water losses that would otherwise occur in transport and distribution. Global studies showed that this method could save water by 30 percent compared to surface irrigation. Consequently, the sprinkler irrigation method has the distinct advantage of water saving over surface irrigation methods.
  • The sprinkler irrigation method allows frequent water application and depths matching crops’ water requirements. Consequently, it is possible to maintain the soil moisture in the root zone of crops within the allowable depletion level for a specified type of soil.
  • Due to the absence of overland flow, and water is not moved on the land surface, the sprinkler irrigation method is suitable for irrigating all types of soils except very heavy clay. This method is ideal for irrigating close-growing crops where the plant population per unit area is much higher than the average.
  • It is suitable for cereal, oil seeds, and vegetable crops.

Benefits of Sprinkler Systems

  • It is not necessary to overland flow by gravity. Consequently, expenditure on land leveling and smoothening are not required in surface irrigation methods.
  • There is no necessity to make bunds, ridges, field channels, etc., for ponding or guiding water. The land used for these constructions is saved and can be used for crop cultivation.
  • Due to the high-pressure requirement, the nozzles are less susceptible to clogging than drip irrigation.
  • You can apply chemicals and fertilizers along with water.

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  • This method saves fertilizers and other nutrients as there is no deep percolation and leaching.
  • You can protect the damage to vegetables, citrus, apple, mango, and other fruit crops from fog, frost, and high solar radiation.
  • Proper planning and a sprinkler irrigation system design can achieve high water use efficiency.
  • You can apply plant protection chemicals to a distant part of the plant, which is not possible in other methods of irrigation.

Disadvantages of Sprinkler System

In addition to the different benefits offered by this method, as explained above, there are certain limitations. These limitations are stated below.

  • High initial investment is required compared to surface irrigation methods.
  • The fine-textured soils with a low infiltration rate cannot be irrigated efficiently.
  • Sprinkler irrigation is not feasible in a hot climate and high wind areas. A significant portion of water will be lost through evaporation, affecting water distribution due to high wind speed.
  • The higher energy requirements are the high operational costs of sprinkler systems.
  • It is not suitable for crops that require standing water. However, research experiments on paddy crops have given promising results.
  • It is not suitable for crops prone to diseases due to the moist environment, especially in humid regions.
  • Water with sediments and impurities may damage the system components.

Sprinkler System and Its Adaptability 

The Sprinkler system requires various essential components to enable the water to fall on the soil surface in the form of a spray, and hence it involves a high initial capital cost. Consequently, this method needs more energy than other water application methods.

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The maintenance cost of various components used in the sprinkler system is relatively higher. Hence there exists a need to make an efficient design and layout of the system to utilize its full potential for water saving and crop yield.

The Sprinkler system is adaptable to the following situations:

  • Almost all types of soils and terrains.
  • Successfully irrigate highly permeable soils that are difficult to irrigate using surface irrigation methods.
  • Lands that combine shallow soils and topography prevent proper land grading smoothing.
  • Grounds have steep slopes and erodible soils, and undulating terrain that would be too costly to make smooth for use.
  • In areas prone to frost and fog, you can use this method to minimize the effect of frost and fog on crop damage.
  • Suppressing dust during dust storms during summer and cooling the local environment.

Wetting Patterns in Sprinkler System

The wetting patterns from a single rotary sprinkler are not uniform. Usually, the area wetted is circular in design. The heaviest wetting is near the sprinkler. Several sprinklers are operated close together so that their patterns overlap. This would result in good uniformity. This overlap must be at least 65% of the wetted diameter for good uniformity. This determines the maximum spacing between the sprinklers.

The water pressure and wind can affect the uniformity of sprinkler applications. You can position the sprinklers more closely together to reduce the effects of wind,

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Sprinklers will only work well at the correct operating pressure recommended by the manufacturer. The most common problem is when the pressure is too low. This happens when pumps and pipes wear. Friction increases, and so pressure at the sprinkler reduces. The water jet does not break up, and all the water tends to fall in one area towards the outside of the wetted circle. If the pressure is too high, the distribution will also be poor. A fine spray develops, which falls close to the sprinkler.

Application rate

This is the average rate at which water is sprayed onto the crops and is measured in mm/hour. The application rate depends on the size of sprinkler nozzles, the operating pressure, and the distance between sprinklers. When selecting a sprinkler system, it is essential to ensure that the average application rate is less than the introductory infiltration rate of the soil. 

Sprinkler drop sizes

As water sprays from a sprinkler, it breaks into tiny drops between 0.5 and 4.0 mm. The small drops fall close to the sprinkler, whereas the larger ones fall close to the edge of the wetted circle. Large drops can damage delicate crops and soil, so using smaller sprinklers is best.

Pressure and nozzle size control the drop size. When the pressure is low, drops tend to be much more significant as the water jet does not break up easily. Therefore, to avoid crop and soil damage use small diameter nozzles operating at or above the standard recommended operating pressure.

Final Thoughts

Sprinkler irrigation is the method of applying water in a controlled manner similar to rainfall. The water distribution takes place through a network of pumps, valves, pipes, and sprinklers. You can use sprinkler systems for residential, industrial, and agricultural usage. Spray irrigation is a modern and commonly-used irrigation system but requires machinery. This system is similar to how you might water your lawn at home – stand there with a hose and spray the water in all directions.

Large-scale spray irrigation systems are in use on large farms today. The designs can be long hoses with sprinklers along the length or a center-pivot system that traverses a circle in the fields. This picture shows a simple sprinkler irrigation system—it is one of the less-efficient models because a large part of the water shot into the air evaporates.

Also read similar articles on save water, irrigation system, water table, water sprinkler, heat tolerant plants, yellow leaves, cruciferous vegetables, chicken manure, and more.

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