What are the Different Types of Field Irrigation?

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  • Written By: Klaus Strasser
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2019
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Field irrigation can be an important part of the agricultural process. Good field irrigation may increase the yield of crops or might help reduce excess water that could contribute to potential flooding. It also can help eliminate the presence of unwanted plants such as weeds, which can inhibit the growth of valuable crops.

Irrigation is a tactic that has been used since the beginning of farming. Basically, irrigation means that water artificially is added to the soil. Many different methods of field irrigation have been used depending on the location of the field, local climate conditions, and the intention of irrigation. With the growth of modern technology, field irrigation techniques have been developed in order to produce better results.

A basic irrigation technique simply is the use of a bucket or watering can. The farmer or worker goes to the individual plant and supplies each with the needed water. According to its simplicity, this approach requires very little infrastructure, needing only a work force, the necessary buckets, and a steady supply of water.


Surface irrigation is a simple form of field irrigation that uses gravity and the incline of the land to either provide water to crops or distribute unwanted water away from a field. In this approach, the farmer calculates the best location in which to dig furrows or trenches. Depending on the goal, water either will flow through these furrows and trenches to the farming area, or excess water will be moved away from the field. Dikes also can be installed to help regulate water levels.

Drip irrigation works by providing water directly to the roots of crops. This technique can be performed manually or by using dripping valves, commonly known as drippers. Each dripper is strategically placed to the benefit of the crops.

Localized irrigation generally refers to a system of pipes that distribute water in appropriate quantities to the field. The location of these pipes usually is carefully planned in advance. Localized irrigation tends to carry water at a low pressure in order not to flood fields, while also providing the plants with the right amount of water.

Sprinkler systems are another common form of field irrigation that generally is used to help make crops healthy and increase their yield. Water is supplied through underground pipes to sprinklers that are located above ground. The sprinklers then spray the collected water to the needed crops. Mobile sprinkler systems also exist. They look like little robots and move around a field, distributing water to areas where it is needed.


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Post 1

we currently supply (well) water to 100 'trailer-sites' using sil-o-flex piping 3/4" to 1/2" feeders. Over the past 40 years, we have developed four sections off of one main line (1&1/2") with several pressure tanks throughout the field at 30-35 psi normal pressure. It works.

We have a landscape 'architect'/engineer(?)suggesting we change the system to 'Loop' like farm irrigation. we can have dozens of sites using water at full pressure (showers, etc.) at any given time.

Why do we want to think about changing our system now?

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