Irrigation is what made humans settle on earth. It was a eureka moment for our ancestors when they finally decided to quit hunting and gathering and embark on building civilization through farming.
That was because of the water that comes from the ground in the form of springs or above it in the form of rainfall and eventually flows through the soil. With it, a novel mode of survival was born. Art, philosophy, science, and sports, everything is indebted to humanity’s decision of cultivating the land and growing food out of it. Since the remote ages, irrigation has been an important source of human civilization.
The early civilizations used rivers for their needs, which were later replaced with artificial canals. The ancient Romans even built the first canal system in the world. Contemporary irrigation systems are semi- to fully automated, thanks to IoT-based systems.
Today, the global population stands at 7.68 billion and is expected to swell further in the coming decades. The population explosion coupled with the increased demand for food has led to a huge rise in the demand for freshwater as well. This demand has also resulted in the depletion of groundwater resources in many parts of the world. In order to meet this need, many new technologies are being developed to grow more crops with fewer water resources in hand.
Some of these technologies include desalination plants and water pumping systems. However, these have their own problems, such as the high cost and environmental impact. With groundwater vanishing out of proportion and surface water lowering to extents that are now causing droughts and flash floods worldwide, cutting-edge irrigation technologies are the only way out of the impending scenario of water and food shortages worldwide.
To meet the evergrowing food demand worldwide and the extremely acute water shortages ahead, modern methods have been valuable in putting a stop to unworthy conventional farming practices. Coupled with technology and assisted by science, the prospects are bright that the world can get away with the looming food security and water shortage crises.
Benefits of Modern Irrigation Systems
The benefits of having a modern, well-designed, and well-installed irrigation system are numerous.
- First, it is the most cost-effective way to get water on your crops.
- Secondly, a properly designed irrigation system will last for years without maintenance and can save you money in the long run.
- Thirdly, when used in conjunction with other types of crop rotation, it is the ideal tool to help avoid soil erosion.
- Lastly, the use of irrigation systems also helps in controlling weeds and insects.
The key thing is to have a reliable and sustainable water source that works for all seasons, especially during dry spells. A good irrigation system will make all the difference between the success or failure of your farming.
Types of Modern Irrigation Systems
Contemporary irrigation systems are strikingly similar to the farming practices adopted by early farmers. However, technology has been the dividing force that makes modern irrigation more rewarding and less labor-intensive. If you are ready to switch from age-old irrigation practices to modern ones that are inexpensive, labor-free, green, and clean, these are the four best irrigation systems for your crop.
1. Drip Irrigation System
With low maintenance costs and less pricey equipment, drip irrigation has been a successful practice for small and medium crop yielders. In water-scarce lands, drip irrigation is the most thriving mode of irrigation and has many advantages over outdated rainfall irrigation or the more expensive artificial subsurface irrigation methods.
The components of the drip irrigation method comprise a pipe network, nozzles, and a control head. The control head further includes a water pressure device, a filter, a water storage tank, and a water pump. The water is emitted through multiple emitters to the plant roots. A drip irrigation system eliminates the possibility of evaporation and water wastage.
In addition, it reduces the need for soil tillage and other labor-intensive activities. In short, the drip irrigation system is efficient in terms of labor-saving and low maintenance costs.
2. Artificial Subsurface Irrigation
In the artificial subsurface irrigation method, there are multiple pipes buried in parallel to maintain and distribute water flow below the ground. When water is passed through the pipe perforations by the pumping system, it only irrigates the roots instead of flooding the entire surface. This method also reduces evaporation and helps in obtaining higher crop yields for certain fruits and vegetables.
The upfront costs i.e., purchase, installation, and maintenance are far higher than drip irrigation. However, artificial subsurface brings more profit than any other irrigation system when applied to the right kind of crop.
3. Surface Irrigation
The modern surface irrigation system works on the same principles as the ancient rainwater collection and storage system. The major difference is that the water in the pipes is under high pressure, rather than being at atmospheric pressure, and is transported by pipes through electric pumps or turbines.
Surface irrigation systems are made up of a number of components, which are watersheds, pipelines, sprinkler heads, and water meters. The watersheds capture the rainfall from the land that they cover or the groundwater from wells through a water pump. The pipework then transports this water from the watershed to the sprinkler heads, where it can be distributed to plants, lawns, orchards, or other crops. The water meters measure the amount of water used by the individual users of the system.
3. Sprinkler System
The sprinkler system is one of the most efficient methods to water the fields without requiring an extensive labor force or energy. Sprinkler systems were invented a long time ago, and have been used in various forms ever since. They do the job by flooding the soil with water through the use of nozzles attached to an automatic timer or a manual one. The sprinklers can be installed on lawns, gardens, golf courses, parks, large swathes of agricultural land, or on a small ranch.
A few things make sprinklers work better than other types of irrigation systems, which are:
- They require less effort. The IoT-based automatic sprinklers require no labor work at all.
- They do not require constant power to operate; the solar sprinklers can run even if there is no electricity.
- They are very reliable and long-lasting. They emulate natural rainfall on the crop and deliver great results.
- They reduce the risk of water damage to the agricultural land and the crops on it. They work best on surfaces where there is insufficient water for the crop.
- They are very cost-effective in the long run and require low maintenance.