What Are the Common Types of Irrigation?

There are three common types of irrigation: surface, traveling sprinkler, and storage. These irrigation methods use gravity to distribute water, following the land’s contour and flowing downhill from higher elevations to all crops. 

Sub-Surface Drip Irrigation

A common type of irrigation system, sub-surface drip irrigation, is a method that applies irrigation water below the surface of the soil. The depth of the water table determines the type of irrigation method to use. Sub-surface drip irrigation emitters are buried just below the soil surface, within the root zone of the plants. This method of irrigation has many benefits according to most irrigation services near me. It saves energy and money by using less water, and the system’s effectiveness is greatly improved over other forms of irrigation.

While conventional surface drip irrigation is the most popular method, sub-surface drip irrigation is the most efficient method for water use because it minimizes evaporation and uses water more effectively. Depending on tillage and crop type, lateral depths vary greatly. However, while it can be highly effective, it does require expert design and maintenance. The benefits of SDI are well worth the costs. However, it can be subject to leaks and root intrusion.

Traveling Sprinklers

There are several types of traveling sprinklers, from the basic impact-driven types to more advanced, gear-driven sprinklers. They can be used for large areas but are generally more expensive and do not provide even coverage. Impact sprinklers are the most common, using a spinning wheel to fling water. Gear-driven sprinklers are the next level of quality. They require little maintenance and can cover large areas in one pass.

Other traveling sprinkler systems are called cable-tow systems. They consist of a large sprinkler head mounted on a wheeled cart. A motor attached to the cable pulley system secures the cable to anchor points at each end of the travel path. The sprinkler cart rolls through the field while the hose winds itself onto a large reel mounted on the cart to operate. This system is ideal for irrigating larger areas or irregularly-shaped areas.

A common type of travel sprinkler is a part circle sprinkler, which rotates to cover a larger area in a circle. The nozzles are placed at opposite ends to ensure maximum coverage and uniform water distribution. These travel sprinklers are most effective for large acreages and require good drainage and coarse soil. 

Storage Irrigation

This type of irrigation is more effective than a sprinkler system because it applies water at periodic intervals. It is often called seepage irrigation and allows water to reach the plant’s root zone from beneath the soil surface. The system is most effective for field crops with high water tables. Its benefits include water conservation, nutrients, and labor, but the outfitting cost is considerable. The main problem with subirrigation is an increase in disease in recycled water.

Another common type of irrigation is dew and wastewater. Both methods use atmospheric conditions to trap dew and use it for irrigation. Wastewater from municipalities and industries can also be used to irrigate small acreages. The use of wastewater in irrigation has increased due to water purification from streams. Storage irrigation can also help save money by reducing water bills, as the soil doesn’t need to be flooded to keep crops watered.

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