Pros and Cons of Different Irrigation Systems

Irrigation is the regular input of a subsequent amount of water into the root shrubs at consistent levels. It is an artificial method of safeguarding the fast and nutritious growth of plants. Crops mostly need a deluge in the absence of water or drought. There are several sources from which you can collect water, including wells, rivers, lakes, and canals. Countries that depend on agriculture spend a lot of time irrigating their fields. Many factors, such as industrial growth and socioeconomic stability, depend on irrigation in those countries. According to current statistics, water covers about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. There are various irrigation methods. Below are some of the most common methods, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Furrow Irrigation

This is a method of irrigation that involves supplying water to crops through evenly spaced and shallow furrows. Commonly, a hipper makes a furrow. The parallel lines are 30 to 38 inches apart. Lay-flat plastic pipes provide a medium through which water flows from the pump to the furrows.

Advantages of Furrow Irrigation

Furrow irrigation has the following major advantages:

  • It is time-saving and doesn't need a lot of labor.
  • You don't need a lot of money to buy equipment.
  • It is a method that minimizes water loss of the irrigation scheme.
  • Pumped water has a lower unit cost, thus saving you money.
  • It allows you to recirculate irrigation runoff water.
  • It makes it possible to reduce the amount of chemical leaching.

Disadvantages of Furrow Irrigation

Furrow irrigation has the following disadvantages:

  • It makes it difficult to maintain water flow.
  • It needs thorough soil surface evaluation and assessment to set up the number of tubes or open gates. Failure to do so will result in surface runoff or slow water advance.
  • This irrigation method is not ideal for sandy soil.
  • The edges of the soil between the furrows can accumulate salt. The reason is when you replow the area, new crops can redistribute the accumulated salinity.
  • The initial field labor cost can be high.
  • It is difficult to move farm equipment in the furrow fields.
  • It is not suitable for some crops.

Sprinkler Irrigation

This type of irrigation applies water that is under pressure to crops through nozzles. Pumps exert pressure on water as it comes out. With sprinklers, you can continually move or fix the equipment. There are some regions, such as in the Midwest, where sprinklers work very well.

Advantages of a Sprinkler Irrigation System

Sprinklers could easily be the most common method of irrigation. Here are the major advantages:

  • It is very affordable and easy to set up.
  • With sprinkler irrigation, you do not need a large area of your field to set it up.
  • The sprinkler irrigation system does not interfere with cultivation. You won't face any losses when plowing your crops.
  • Pressure from the sprinklers supplies enough water to the plants. Therefore, you won't need to do it yourself.
  • There is an even distribution of water, which ensures consistent growth of plants.
  • You can control the amount of water supply. By doing so, you can regulate the flow of water depending on necessity and plant requirements.
  • It is a type of irrigation system that is suitable for all soil types.

Disadvantages of a Sprinkler Irrigation System

The sprinkler irrigation system has the following disadvantages:

  • Purchasing sprinkling equipment can be very costly.
  • Using this system in supplying saline water can lead to complications.
  • For you to distribute water across the land evenly, you need a constant water supply.
  • There’s the chance of water evaporating from the sprinkler in areas with windy environments and high humidity levels.
  • Water sediments or deposits of debris can clog the nozzles of the sprinklers.

Flood Irrigation

This involves supplying water to a field through ditches or pipes. Water flows over the ground, then to the crops. Gates and levees often control the depth of the water. You see this type of irrigation used in rice fields by side-let methods or cascade. In cascade flood irrigation, water penetrates the field through the highest point. It makes its way to the bottom through several levee gates. On the other hand, side-inlet flood irrigation has pipes placed across levees. There are holes to allow the simultaneous delivery of water in each area of the field.

Advantages of Flood Irrigation

  • It needs a low initial investment for equipment.
  • You can recycle runoff water to improve efficiency.
  • When using the side-let method, you can save up to 60 percent of water compared with cascade.

Disadvantages of Flood Irrigation

  • It is the least efficient form of irrigation.
  • You can lose a lot of water from infiltration, evaporation, or runoff. 
  • Building and constructing levees can be challenging.
  • You need to grade the land before successfully distributing water evenly.

Drip Irrigation

This type of irrigation delivers water drop by drop to the roots of crops. Drip irrigation supplies water under low pressure through plastic pipes manufactured with emitters to control the flow rate. You can bury these pipes beneath the soil or place them on the ground.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation

Here are the advantages of drip irrigation:

  • In soils with improper water supply, nutrients and fertilizers cannot reach each plant. Drip irrigation takes care of this effectively.
  • It is a type of irrigation system that helps you gain efficiency in the application of water.
  • It makes field leveling possible. By doing so, you can plant properly.
  • No matter the size of your property, drip irrigation can work.
  • This type of irrigation reduces weed growth and soil erosion.
  • You can control the amount of water under distribution.
  • Every root in the field can get enough water and nutrients.
  • With drip irrigation, you don't need a helping hand to water your plants.

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation

Here are the disadvantages of drip irrigation:

  • The process of installing it can be long and tedious.
  • In some areas, you might need court approval to install it.
  • The sun might affect the tubes and water pipes.

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