Category: Irrigation
Date: 04/08/2022

What is the best irrigation system?

To find out what is the best irrigation system, it would be necessary to go into details of each one and submit these details to a comparison in terms of quality, results and advantages in certain aspects. And right in this blog, we are ready to present this comparison.

Adaptation to the terrain

  • Flooding: It is the best irrigation system for flat or semi-flat land. In high areas and with steeper slopes, the difficulties of properly conveying and distributing the water are very great. In addition, the risks of erosion are high.
  • Aspersion: it is better adapted to flat or semi-flat land. As the slope increases, the risk of erosion increases due to the detachment of soil particles caused by the impact of the drops. In addition, as the slope increases, the distribution of the water becomes more and more uneven, forming a circle of fewer beams on the upper side of the sprinkler, where more water is applied and with more pressure.
  • Drip: it adapts well to land with any slope.

Water consumption

  • Flooding: it is the one that consumes the most water, therefore, flooding systems should be avoided, mainly where water is scarce.
  • Sprinkler: uses less water than the previous one, but at least twice as much as the drip system.
  • Drip: it is the one that is most identified as watersavers irrigation, mainly if it is about widely spaced crops; It consumes little and because it offers a slow distribution, crops tend to take better advantage of it.

Water monitoring

  • Flooding: although it is possible to control the amount of water applied through the use of gates or siphons, it is very difficult to know exactly how much water is being applied at each point on the ground.
  • Sprinkling: the amount of water applied can be controlled either through simple rain gauges or by the flow/time ratio of the sprinklers. However, if the pressure in the water sprinklers drops or is unequal between them, the distribution of the water is also uneven within the irrigated perimeter.
  • Drip: the amount of water applied can be well controlled through the flow/time ratio of the hose drip.

Height differential (level) for water distribution by gravity

  • Flooding: almost no height is needed, just enough for the water to flow from the source to the highest part of the land and from there to the entire surface.
  • Aspersion: it requires enough height to work well by gravity.
  • Drip: requires little height between the water source and the distribution points (2 m. are enough to achieve a good drip).

Environmental risk

  • Flooding: Normally, the amounts of water applied by flooding are excessive and contribute to leaching the more soluble nutrients, mainly in light textured soils, from loam to sandier. As in flood-irrigated areas the water table is usually close to or above the surface, the risk of contamination by ions, such as nitrates and sulphates, is relatively high, especially if high doses of fertilizers are used in the field’s crops.
  • Aspersion: it works as if it were a natural rain, can cause erosion.
  • Drip: apparently the plant drippers do not produce any deterioration process. The energy of the water that reaches the ground is insufficient to produce erosion. As wetting is very slow and controlled, it is more difficult for soluble nutrients to leach out.

Spread of pests and diseases

  • Flooding: Water running through the furrow can carry different pathogens or weed seeds. In the same way, if the soil remains saturated with water for too long it can be fatal for certain crops susceptible to soil fungi.
  • Sprinkling: the splash of water droplets against the soil and their deposit on the stems and leaves of crops can transport certain pathogens, as well as from diseased plants to healthy ones.
  • Drip: as the irrigation is localized and the water does not come into contact with the aerial part of the plants, the danger of pest or disease dispersion through the wetting area is less. In addition, the amount of water can be controlled and excess moisture in the soil can be avoided.

Labor utilization

  • Flooding the labor requirements for the construction and maintenance of canals are usually high. In the irrigation operation, permanent labor is required for water distribution and control operations.
  • Sprinkler: In the installing sprinkler system, the greatest use of labor is in the operation of the system and, more specifically, in the rotation of the equipment on the ground in each irrigation shift.
  • Drip: since these are fixed systems, a large part of the labor is used in the installation of the equipment.

Knowledge and simplicity of the system

  • Flood: It is a system It is easily understood and accepted by producers because it is close to the concept of “putting water on the ground”. However, managing water well, with “irrigation” criteria, in a flood system requires structures (gates, distribution and drainage channels) and constant labor.
  • Sprinkling: similar to the previous one, it is easily understood and accepted by producers because it imitates rain and is close to the concept of “sprinkling water on the ground”. The operation is not difficult: it requires a certain amount of labor to rotate the equipment and control the operation of the pipes and sprinklers.
  • Drip: the installation requires certain knowledge because these systems move away from the traditional concept of “spreading water on the ground”. However, its installation is not complicated and its operation is simple. What they do require is that the crops be planted in such a way that they allow the establishment of irrigation sectors or branches at the level, to avoid pressure differences in the different drippers.

As can be deduced after a detailed study of the behavior of each of the irrigation systems, we can say which is the best irrigation system despite being the one that requires greater knowledge of the system, drip irrigation is the one that best adapts to the terrain, the most efficient, the more environmentally friendly, and the one that requires less labor once installed.

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