Because irrigation is a critical part of modern farming today, there are many different farm irrigation systems available to do this. With the right installation, it is possible to keep unlimited acres of fields productive, even when they are far from any water source of water or if rainfall is not sufficient. Deciding on the best irrigation method for each farm requires some planning, so working with an experienced farm irrigation system supply company is a farmer’s best choice.

Categories of Agricultural Irrigation

There are many different types of farm irrigation systems currently in use today and are included in the four main categories of flood, sprinkler, drip, and micro irrigation.

1. Flood Irrigation

Companies that supply farm irrigation systems have equipment to distribute water for flood irrigation in these ways:

  • Furrow IrrigationIrrigation water is directed down furrows that have usually been graded to a specific gradual slope for the most uniform application. Water to the furrows is supplied by above-ground PVC pipe with an opening called a “gate” at each furrow. The opening of the gate can be varied to adjust the flow to the furrow. In some cases, a large diameter thin wall poly pipe is used and a hole is punched to divert water to each furrow.

  • Graded Border IrrigationIrrigated water is directed down a narrow strip of a field with raised earth borders on each side. The length of the border is graded to a specific gradual slope for the most uniform application. Water is usually supplied to the high end of the border from an underground pipeline with a riser and valve.

2. Sprinkler Irrigation

Sprinkler irrigation can be used to irrigate fields of most any size, slope, or shape. Listed below are the different ways sprinklers are used in farm irrigation systemsto distribute water over a field.

  • Hand Move PipeSprinklers are attached to the end of a thirty or forty foot section of aluminum or PVC pipe. These pipes are installed end to end down a row or section of field and are called a lateral. Laterals are usually spaced about forty feet apart.

  • Solid Set – Permanent underground PVC pipe is installed throughout a field with risers coming off of them with a sprinkler installed on top. Spacings between the sprinklers can be from forty to over one hundred feet depending on the size and type of sprinkler used.

  • Center Pivots or Other Mechanical Move Irrigation SystemsSprinklers for this irrigation method are installed along the machine suspended from rigid or hose drops. They are usually installed just above the top of the crop but can be put close to the ground for some farm irrigation systems.

  • Hose Reel or Traveling Gun Systems – One large sprinkler is installed on a cart attached to hose on a larger reel. The cart is connected to a tractor and is pulled down the field for setup, unreeling the hose from the reel. When water runs through the system, the sprinkler operates and the reel turns, winding up the hose and pulling the sprinkler and cart in.

3. Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation involves the use of small diameter poly tubing with emitters and is used to apply water to a small area directly to the root zone of a crop. The emitters can be installed into the tubing by hand to water a specific tree or plant. Also used is emitter tubing which has drip emitters installed at the factory on a specific spacing to reduce installation costs. Drip systems can be installed above ground or can be buried to reduce damage to the tubing. Drip tape is a type of drip irrigation which has drip emitters installed in a very thin tube which is shipped flat in coils or rolls. The emitters are spaced from 6 to 12 inches apart. Drip tape is usually used to irrigate vegetable crops and gardens but can be buried to irrigate crops such as cotton or corn.

4. Micro Irrigation

Micro irrigation involves the use of small, low volume sprinklers called micro-sprinklers on farm irrigation systems that irrigate orchards and vineyards. In most cases, the micro-sprinkler is installed at the base of a tree to water only that tree. In some cases, the micro-sprinkler is installed between two trees. Water can be provided to the micro-sprinklers from above ground polyethylene or poly pipe, or by PVC pipe buried below ground.

Deciding on which system installation is best for farm or field irrigation requires a farmer to consider many different things: water source, budget, crops being grown, watering requirements, setup and convenience, and numerous other factors. When considering the purchase of a new farm irrigation system, it is so helpful to work with a company that provides farm irrigation system supplies and repair services, a company that can help a farmer make the best choices for their individual farm irrigation needs!

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