Why do we need Irrigation?
Irrigation refers to the regulated application of water to soil, crops or farmland to meet their water needs. Proper irrigation improves agricultural production, minimises water waste and maintains high crop yields.
What’s more, the agriculture sector is directly impacted by changes in climate patterns. This has resulted in unpredictable rainfall, increased temperatures, and prolonged droughts, which has affected the availability and quality of water for irrigation. Changing weather and rainfall patterns are leading to reduced crop yields, increased water stress, and decreased agricultural productivity. As such, there is a need for the development and implementation of a sustainable irrigation method that can tackle these effects on agriculture.
Impact of Irrigation
Water use and management is an important area to be mindful of in agriculture. The efficient use of water resources through irrigation has the potential to increase crop yields and improve food and water security. However, improper irrigation can lead to soil degradation, waterlogging, over-abstraction, and salinisation – which can have negative impacts on the environment and agricultural productivity.
Therefore, it is essential to implement sustainable irrigation techniques that balance the needs of agriculture and the environment. By adopting sustainable irrigation methods, we can ensure the long-term viability of agricultural production while protecting our valuable water resources.
Rainfall vs Irrigation
The natural occurrence of rainfall is frequently regarded as the perfect supply of water for crops, but its availability and reliability can be unpredictable. Rainfall is dispersed throughout different seasons and regions, so farmers who rely on rainfall alone can only grow at certain points during the year.
Irrigation technologies, on the other hand, give a more regulated and continuous supply of water to crops even in the dry season. Irrigation water can come from a variety of sources like wells, surface water, rivers, lakes, storage tanks etc. and can be coupled with water harvesting and saving for use when there is less rainfall.
Types of Irrigation
There are various types of irrigation systems that are commonly used in agriculture. These include surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation, and central pivot irrigation. Each system has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of system depends on factors such as soil type, crop type, and water availability.
Drip irrigation and sprinkler systems are two of the most popular types of irrigation we see on small-scale farms around the world. To select the best one you need to research them in-depth to determine which is best for your land needs.
Fortunately, we’ve done the work for you! This blog can help you understand the differences and guide you to select the best option.
|Sprinkler Irrigation||Drip Irrigation|
|Suitable for||Irregular topography,|
|Horticulture, Steep land,|
|Water efficiency||Med-High||Very High|
|Initial Setup cost||Low-Med||High|
|Irrigation labour required||Low/Moderate||Low|
Using sprinklers for irrigation purposes is a common practice in agriculture and horticulture. Sprinkler systems are designed to distribute water evenly over a designated area, providing the necessary moisture for plant growth and development.
Through small-diameter sprinkler heads, such as the popular butterfly sprinklers, they discharge water in a way that’s similar to rainfall. Sprinkler irrigation uses a series of pipes to distribute water around a farm to sprinkler heads. Sprinklers can be used on most types of soil but may struggle on more sloped land. They are also easy to use and are good at conserving water if there is a limited source.
Another good side of sprinklers is that they don’t require much labour. Sprinkler irrigation is also suitable where plant population per unit area is high. Sprinklers can cover a large wetted area and are less costly per m2 than other irrigation types, such as drip systems. On the down side, there are still some initial set-up costs which need to be considered, as well as awareness of the climate where you are irrigating. When the wind blows it can distort sprinkler patterns and cause uneven distribution of water or overwatering in some cases.
Our low pressure sprinklers are selected for max efficiency with our solar water pump. They are easy to set up and move around the farm. Check out more about our sprinklers to get detailed info.
Overall, the use of sprinklers for irrigation is a valuable technique in modern agriculture and plays a crucial role in sustaining crop production.
Drip irrigation is a modern agricultural practice that includes applying water to crops in a controlled manner via a network of tubes or pipes. This irrigation technology is intended to supply water directly to plant roots, minimising water loss due to evaporation or runoff.
Drip irrigation systems are generally made up of a water supply, a pump, a filter, and a network of tubes or pipes. The tubes have small holes, sometimes with emitters attached, which slowly and steadily discharge water, ensuring that the plants receive a regular supply of water. Drip irrigation has been proven to be an effective and efficient technique for irrigation, saving up to 50% more water than standard irrigation systems.
Because drip irrigation allows control over the amount of water provided directly to the plants, it can boost agricultural yields and quality. Along with this, drip irrigation is easy to operate once it is set up and prevents soil erosion. The downsides of drip are that it can not be moved easily like a sprinkler system and takes more time, planning, and money to set up.
Overall, drip irrigation is a significant technique for modern agriculture since it is very efficient, saving water and boosting the sustainability of farming practices.
|Sprinklers||Can work with any type of soil|
Can easily cover large area (with movement)
Easy to set up and move around
|Can lose significant water to runoff and evaporation|
Water can drift if there is a lot of wind
A stable water supply is required
Need to buy sprinklers
|Drip Irrigation||Reduced water waste|
Can be more cost effective for individual plant watering
Prevents soil erosion
Easy to operate
|Need to check to ensure no clogs |
The initial cost is high
Cannot easily be moved around
How are sprinklers and drip being used?
Recently we asked our followers on social media about their thoughts on irrigation. The question was “Which Irrigation system do you want to upgrade to next – Sprinklers or Drip”. So who was the winner…? The poll result showed that 77% of the audience chose drip irrigation and the remaining 23% audience voting for sprinkler systems.
Customers experience using sprinklers and drip system irrigation
Sprinklers and drip irrigation are used widely across the globe. Many of our customers have caught on and are very happy as they have added these systems on their farms alongside our solar water pumps.
Matthew from Kenya uses sprinklers to irrigate his farm using our SF2 solar water pump. Matthew used to have a treadle pump before switching to the solar pump with a sprinkler system. “Once you’ve connected the system, it’ll run automatically while you can focus on other work” – Matthew
A Kenyan vegetable dealer Ann has a drip irrigation system on her farm. She pumps water from an underground source using an SF2 solar pump connected to the drip system.
After everything is discussed, the final question is which system to go with, Drip or Sprinklers? Which system is better for your land? As with a lot of farming conundrums, there is no definite answer…
Choosing the best irrigation depends on the size of area you need to water and what is plant requirement. Drip irrigation is more water efficient & precise but it isn’t suitable for large areas. Whilst sprinkler systems are less water efficient due to run off and evaporation, they can be automated and can cover a larger area, they are also portable.
Now you know how two of the most popular forms of irrigation for small farms could work for you and how by using them you can keep your plants watered instead of relying on the rain or watering cans.