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23 October 2023

The Most Common Methods Used to Irrigate Farms

What Type of Irrigation Is Used for Farmland?

Farmers use three principal methods to irrigate their crops and land. Crop yield increases dramatically from efficient watering. Irrigating methods depend on the geographical location, type of soil, and crops.

There are 3 common methods for irrigating farmland. These are surface irrigation, overhead irrigation, and drip irrigation:

How Best Is Surface Irrigation Applied & Used for Farming?

Surface Irrigation has a 55% WUE.( WUE stands for Water Use Efficiency). This is a measure of how efficiently farmers use water for the irrigation of crop production. Water use efficiency plays a vital role in sustainable agriculture and water management. It is especially important in areas where there is water scarcity.

  • Surface irrigation is best suited to irrigate lands when the sediments are too high for drip or overhead watering.
  • This method of irrigation is unsuitable for high infiltration sandy soil conditions.
  • Surface irrigation exposes fields and renders them vulnerable to floods and erosion.
  • There is a high possibility of salinisation occurring during surface irrigation. Salination is a genuine threat because of the capillary action drawing salts to the surface.
  • Surface irrigation is not suitable for fertigation. Fertigation is the combining of irrigation and fertilising. Commercial crop growers mostly use this method of fertilising. However, there is no limit to the amount of fertilisers and other biocides added during surface irrigation.
  • Surface irrigation does not limit germination, and the foliage remains dry. The result is a lower chance of crops succumbing to fungal diseases.
  • Weeds receive an equal amount of water as crops during surface irrigation.
  • Although there is an initial labour output, the cost of labour in the long-term for surface fertilisation is low.


How Does Surface Irrigation Work?

Surface irrigation flows directly onto the farmland from a body of water. It is suitable for any shape field. This method is uncontrolled, with water bodies flowing directly to the land without disturbing soil quality. Surface irrigation is best suited to areas with unlimited water where there is little or no wind. Farmers need little knowledge of surface irrigation. This type of irrigation requires field levelling and initially it is labour intensive.

What are the Benefits of Overhead Irrigation & How To Use It?

Overhead  Irrigation has a 75% WUE. (Water Use Efficiency). Water safety for animal and human consumption is important. The quality of the water should be potable.

The initial cost of investing in an overhead irrigation system is usually high and labour intensive. These systems are also costly to maintain.

  • Overhead irrigation is the most common type of irrigation for the effective surface watering of crops and plants. This method of irrigation, however, is sporadic.
  • Overhead irrigation is suited to all soil types.
  • It is best suited to areas with unlimited water resources with little wind.
  • Preparing and maintaining requires levelling of land, pipe maintenance, and operational knowledge.
  • The irrigated field shape dictates the sprinkler system shape and pivots.
  • Soil erosion could occur if the water pools.
  • Salts could easily leach out of the rooting zone.
  • Fertigation is a possibility. However, the loss and waste of nutrients could occur.
  • There is no limit to the addition of fertilisers and biocides. These include pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.
  • Germination is not limited.
  • When foliage gets wet during overhead irrigation, it increases the disease of certain crops.
  • Weeds will get equal amounts of water as crops.

Why is Drip Irrigation Cost Effective & an Efficient Irrigation Method?

Drip irrigation delivers water through a network of pipes, tubes and emitters to the base of each plant. Emitters release water in controlled amounts. These are usually in small droplets or a slow trickle. Water is applied at a rate matching the uptake of water of the individual plant. This ensures minimal runoff and efficient utilisation.

Initially, drip irrigation is expensive to install. However, it is cost-effective because it reduces the need to retrieve pipes for maintenance purposes. As water becomes scarcer throughout South Africa, this method of irrigation is probably the irrigation system of choice in the future.

There is no soil erosion with drip irrigation. Unlike that associated with sprinklers and flood irrigation.

  • Drip irrigation is an effective water-saving method for irrigating farmlands. It delivers water directly to the root zone of plants. This is executed in a slow, deliberate and steady manner. This method of irrigation is a targeted approach which minimises water wastage. Drip irrigation reduces over and under watering of crops.
  • The WUE (Water Use Efficiency) of drip irrigation is 90%.
  • Farmers can use non-potable and recycled water for drip irrigation.
  • Drip irrigation is suitable for all soil types, and irrigation is both controllable and uniform.
  • Drip irrigation is well-suited to areas with limited water, and areas where the wind might cause high evaporation.
  • Drip irrigation requires no levelling of fields.
  • This form of irrigation requires the regular maintenance of pipes and filtration. Maintenance of components will prevent blockages of irrigation systems. A high level of knowledge is essential for best results.
  • Drip irrigation systems are suitable for any field shape.
  • With drip irrigation, soil erosion is minimal.
  • If the system is not flushed from time to time, salinity challenges could arise.
  • With drip irrigation, soil is easily fertigated without wastage.
  • Farmers need to select biocides and fertilisers that need no surface wetting.
  • There is limited germination, as they limit this to wet areas.
  • Foliage remains dry, resulting in minimised fungal disease.
  • There are fewer weeds because drip irrigation targets watering the plants and crops.

Irrigation Pump Options

Centrifugal pumps serve as the primary choice for various irrigation techniques. When it comes to irrigation, no other pump types are as well-suited for the task. Whether you’re looking to supply water for irrigation from a borehole, centrifugal and progressive cavity pumps are your go-to options. On the other hand, if you need to dose chemicals, diaphragm or peristaltic pumps are the recommended choices.

Find out Everything About Irrigation Systems by Contacting AxFlow AQS Liquid Transfer 

What are the most common methods used to irrigate farms in South Africa today? Contact AxFlow AQS Liquid Transfer on +27 12 548 7204 or fill out our enquiry form. We are a team of professionals ready to help with the most updated information about irrigation systems in the agricultural sector.

Source – Irrigation Of Farmland, 3 Types And Importance – Ofarms

Do you still have questions? Give our AQS Liquid Transfer team a call on +27 12 548 7204 or fill out our enquiry form, our friendly team will get back to you with first-hand expertise on how to select a borehole pump for your needs.

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