Irrigation systems: what they are and why you need one - AGRIVI (2023)

Irrigation systems are a crucial component of modern farm management that optimize crop quality and yield.

Some of the most productive crops thrive in deserts thanks to irrigation. For example, Yuma County, Arizona is geographically part of the Sonoran Desert. YetYuma County farmers harvestMore than 90% of lettuce and crucifer crops in the US come from fields that are 100% irrigated by the Colorado River. However, due to scarce water resources, farmers are looking for digital farm management solutions to optimize the irrigation systems they use. Modern farm management solutions such asAGRIVIMonitor all types of field irrigation systems, regardless of the irrigation method, irrigation service, irrigation system or technology used.

Dive into the different types of systems or browse to see their benefits using the table of contents below.

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What are irrigation systems?

Irrigation itself is the artificial supply of moisture for the benefit of growing plants. Agriculture without irrigation is considered rainfed agriculture and is often referred to as rainfed agriculture.

Irrigation systems are therefore simply the method by which a farmer transports water from its source to his fields. Irrigation water comes from underground sources such as aquifers, springs and wells, or from surface sources such as rivers, ponds or ponds. Modern farm management solutions like AGRIVI monitor all types of field irrigation systems, regardless of the irrigation method used, the irrigation service, the system or the irrigation technology.

Irrigation systems: what they are and why you need one - AGRIVI (1)

The history and development of irrigation systems

Irrigation systems developed hand in hand with the advancement of agriculture and human civilization.

That oneoldest evidenceof irrigation systems dates back to 6000 BC. back. and the Jordan Valley, part of an area often referred to ascradle of civilizationWherever civilization flourished, people built ancient dams, reservoirs and intricate irrigation canal systems. In America, the Aztecs created miles of aqueduct systems to transport water to their fields.

Modern irrigation technology isbelieved to have startedwith the development of Utah's Great Salt Lake Basin in the mid-19th century. Between the 1890s and the end of the 21st centuryirrigated area in the US has increasedfrom less than 3 million acres to over 58 million.

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5 types of irrigation systems currently used by farmers

heufive main types of irrigation systemsused by farmers.

  • surface irrigation(also called flood or furrow irrigation)
  • Drip irrigation or micro irrigation
  • sprinkler irrigation
  • kingpin irrigation
  • sub-irrigation

surface irrigation systems

Surface or flood irrigation systems are man's oldest irrigation method.

A surface irrigation system floods a cultivated field with runoff, usually from a water source such as a canal. Fields are leveled so that they gradually slope away from the water source (or may even be terraced) so that water moves across the entire area. Plants are usually stacked in parallel beds, allowing water to flow easily through the grooves between the plant roots.

Furrow irrigation differs from flood irrigation only in that the irrigation installation is accomplished through the use of pipes or hoses to direct water away from the original source.

Drip irrigation systems or micro irrigation

In a drip or micro-irrigation system, water flows through a network of tubes that are placed in the soil next to a plant's root zone. Slow drip emitters or micro sprinklers distribute the water. Because a drip irrigation system delivers water so accurately, they use less water than other irrigation methods.

Drip or micro irrigation systems do not require a lot of pressure to work. Therefore, they can be used with low water pressure. Drip irrigation systems are relatively new but are expanding rapidly, particularly in the production of specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables. However, farmers in areas with high levels of iron should avoid using drip irrigation and micro irrigation systems due to clogging of emitters.

Irrigation systems: what they are and why you need one - AGRIVI (2)

sprinkler irrigation systems

Sprinkler irrigation systems use a pressurized water system to deliver water through sprinklers. The pressure is obtained by a pump.

Sprinkler irrigation systems can be stationary or portable. In addition, many different types of nozzles and spray heads can be used. This creates flexibility in terms of coverage and spray patterns.

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pivoting irrigation system

Pivot irrigation systems, or center pivot irrigation (CPI) systems, are technically a type of sprinkler system. But they have enough unique qualities and are popular enough to warrant a separate list.

Pivot irrigation delivers water in a circular area over a field. The side tubes are suspended from floor structures (towers). Sprinklers are installed along the length of the pipe or at the ends of overhead pipes. Pivot irrigation runs are often over 1,000 feet in length.

Although CPI systems are used for nearly all crops that do not grow larger than the pivot, they are generally used on larger acreage farms due to cost considerations. As a result, farmers often use CPI systems for crops such as potatoes, small grains, soybeans, corn and forage crops (such as alfalfa).

Secondary irrigation water systems

Sub-irrigation is a method of providing water to plants below the soil surface. Water can be applied through a series of pipes and trenches or even with a drip tape buried at planting time.

Sub-irrigation systems are not used as commonly as other irrigation systems, but they are gaining in popularity because they are water-free and easy to use.

The importance of irrigation systems to our food supply chain

Irrigation systems are vital to food production around the world, ensuring people have enough to eat.

The irrigated land isonly 20%of the total cultivated area, but contributes 40% to global food production. Furthermore, according to one report, irrigated agriculture is at least "twice as productive per unit of land as rainfed agriculture, allowing for greater production intensification and crop diversification".world bank report.

But since water is so important for agricultural production, farmers use it extensively.

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In North America, agricultural food productionconsumes 80%of water use in the US between 1960 and 1995, more than any other industry. And globally, agriculture uses 70% of the world's available fresh water.

Meanwhile, climate change is changing andIntensification of natural water cycles, leading to longer and more intense droughts and rising temperatures. According to one. the driest in 1,200 yearsMarch 2022Study published by Nature Climate Change.

Population growth, especially in developing countries, leads to an increasing demand for more water. Experts predict that agriculture will take the brunt of the water crisis.

  • Experts assume that in the future 25-40% of agricultural water will have to be redistributed to meet increased demand. 🇧🇷The World Bank)
  • Water problems will severely affect agriculture, cause market and trade disruptions, and threaten global food security. Northeast China, northwest India and southwestern states will be severely affected. 🇧🇷OECD)
  • Europe is heading towards more extreme summer droughts. In the Alps, France, the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula, the most extreme summer droughts are 50% more likely to increase. 🇧🇷About UsForum)

Water conservation is driving the explosion of irrigation systems and irrigation technologies

Faced with growing food needs but reduced water availability, farmers are looking for new ways to use water more efficiently. At thesome cases, farmers will not receive the traditional annual allocations of water due to the depletion of water supplies.

Farms that have not yet installed a rainwater-based irrigation system are examining their options. At the same time, farmers are shifting from water-intensive methods such as surface irrigation to more efficient systems such as drip irrigation.

State-of-the-art technology in the management of water-saving irrigation systems

Meanwhile, new technologies are integrating state-of-the-art data management, hardware and software to provide farmers with better tools to manage their irrigation needs.

New technologies for irrigation systems include:

  • Aerial images from satellites or drones to measure soil moisture
  • Wireless soil moisture probes that collect data on moisture needs
  • Weather stations that monitor winds, humidity, evaporation rates and precipitation
  • Probes and monitors that measure the evapotranspiration rates of a plant
  • Variable rate technology connects soil and plant moisture to irrigation systems, allowing precise application of water when and where it is needed

More efficient water systems reduce farmers' water footprint and lower their water bills.For example, according to the USDA, a study in High Plains found that switching irrigation systems from high pressure to low pressure can result in savings of up to $66 per acre. And a 10% improvement in irrigation efficiency would save farmers 8 gallons per acre in their annual diesel usage, or about $18,000 per 1,000 acres.

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In general, farmers are looking for more efficient irrigation systems because they have less access to water and therefore need to make better use of what they have. And because the most efficient systems save you money and reduce your water footprint.

Reduce your farm's water footprint with Agrivi farm management software

Want to find out how to reduce your farm's water footprint, no matter what type of irrigation system you use? AGRIVI and our company-specific queries can help. With each irrigation, AGRIVI tracks its data and records the amount of water used and the costs incurred. AGRIVI analytics provide water use by crop and field production and can be viewed daily, allowing for more informed decision-making at the station to create your irrigation schedule.

Are you ready to become more efficient with your irrigation systems?


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