Types of Irrigation in India

Agriculture is the backbone of our country as it is needed for survival of living beings and contributes to our country’s GDP on a large scale. And for agriculture we need to take care of our crops. Irrigation is also one of them. As humans need water for survival, similarly, the crops require water for their growth and development.

The process of supplying water to the crops artificially to fulfill their water requirements is known as irrigation. Irrigation is one of the major processes of agriculture. It is described as the artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is the substitute or supplement of rainwater with another source of water.

Nutrients may also be applied to the crops through irrigation. It is used in dry areas and during periods of insufficient rainfall. It is considered to be the basic infrastructure and vital input required for agricultural production. Growing of agricultural crops and vegetation by maintaining with the minimum amount of water required is the main aim of irrigation.

The various sources of water for irrigation are wells, ponds, lakes, canals, tube-wells, and even dams. Irrigation offers moisture required for growth and development, germination, and other related functions. Water moistens the soil and thus helps in penetration of roots even into the dry field. Crops are irrigated by several methods: flooding an entire field, channeling water between rows of plants, spraying water through large sprinklers, or letting water drop onto plants through holes in pipes.

Importance of Irrigation

The importance of irrigation can be explained in the following points:

  1. Irrigation helps to increase productivity even in low rainfall.
  2. Irrigation facilities make it possible to grow more than one crop in most of the areas of the country.
  3. Irrigation has helped to bring most of the fallow land under cultivation.
  4. Irrigation has stabilized the output and yield levels.
  5. Irrigation increases the availability of water supply, which in turn increases the income of the farmers.

Type of Irrigation in India:

In different parts of India there are various techniques of irrigation practices. These practices differ in how the water obtained from the source is distributed within the field. Generally, the goal of irrigation is to supply water homogeneously throughout the field, so that each plant has the required amount of water.

1. Surface Irrigation:

In this technique water spreads over the surface of the land as no irrigation pump is involved. Flow of water under surface irrigation comes under wobbly flow. Suitable surface irrigation system is adopted after taking into consideration different factors

  1. Surface slope of the field
  2. Roughness of the field surface
  3. Depth of water to be applied
  4. Size and shape of water-course
  5. Field resistance to erosion

2. Free Flooding:

This system of irrigation is being used since ancient times. In free flooding method, water is applied to the land from field ditches without any check or guidance to the flow. Water is spread over the field from watercourse. The irrigation operation begins at the higher area and proceeds towards the lower levels. The flow is stopped when the lower end of the field has received the desired depth of water.

3. Border Strip Method:

In this technique of irrigation, a field is divided into number of strips. The width of strip varies from 10 to 15 meters and length varies from 90 m to 400 m. The water is diverted from the field channel into the strips. The water flows gradually towards lower end, wetting the soil as it advances. When the slope is steeper, special arrangement is made to prevent soil erosion.

4. Well and Tube Well Irrigation:

Well: A well is a hole dug in the ground to get the subsoil water (generally 3-5 meters deep). This system of irrigation is being used in India since ancient time. Various methods are used to lift the ground water from the well for irrigation, drinking, bathing and for other purposes. Well irrigation is more popular in those regions where ground water is in ample.

Tube well: A tube well is a deeper well (generally over 15 meters deep) from which water is lifted with the help of a pumping set operated by an electric motor, a diesel engine or solar power.

5. Canal irrigation:

Canals are most important source of irrigation since 1960s. It constitutes the second most important source of irrigation in India. It is more effective in areas of low level relief, deep fertile soils, perennial source of water and extensive command area. The main concentration of canal irrigation is in the northern plain of India.

6. Localized Irrigation

In this system, water is applied to each plant through a network of pipes under low pressure.

7. Drip Irrigation

In this type of irrigation, drops of water are delivered near the roots of the plants. This type of irrigation is rarely used as it requires more maintenance. This irrigation method was used to the ancient custom in certain parts of India of irrigating a tulsi plant. This method can also be used in regions where water availability is less.

8. Sprinkler Irrigation

In this irrigation method, water is distributed from a central location by overhead high-pressure sprinklers or from sprinklers from the moving platform. This method is much advisable in areas facing water scarcity.