Irrigation and Types of Irrigation and 10 most Important Questions

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Irrigation and Types of Irrigation and 10 most Important Questions


  • India being the land of diversity, it has different seasons in different parts of the country throughout the year.
  • Cropping is mainly based on seasons, as weather and availability of water play a vital role in irrigation. Water availability in India also varies from place to place.
  • This chapter gives a brief introduction to the irrigation system in India.
  • So, for the crops with high water requirements, free flooding, furrow flooding or border flooding is preferred and for the crops with low water requirements, drip irrigation, or subsurface irrigation can be adopted.

What is irrigation?

Irrigation: It is the science of artificial application of water to the land according to the 'crop requirement' throughout the 'crop period' for full-fledged nourishment of the crop.


Presently, most of the population (around seventy percent) depends directly on ag-riculture, and the remaining depends indirectly on agriculture. In India, there is a total agriculture area of 328 million hectares, and about 184 million hectares are cultivable.

Adequate artificial irrigation facilities are required to save this area and to ensure the full growth of crops.

advantages and disadvantages of irrigation

advantages of irrigation

Increase in food production:

  • Irrigation helps in increasing crops yields, and hence, to attain self-sufficiency in food.

Optimum benefits:

  • Optimum utilisation of water is made possible by irrigation. It means obtaining maximum crop yield with the required amount of water.

Elimination of mixed cropping:

  • In areas where irrigation is not assured, generally mixed cropping is adopted. But if irrigation is assured, mixed cropping can be eliminated.

General prosperity:

  • Revenue returns in well-developed irrigation are sometimes quite high and helps in all round development of the country and prosperity of the entire nation and community.

Generation of hydro-electric power:

  • Cheaper power generation can be obtained from water developed projects like dams, primarily designed for irrigation alone.

Domestic water supply:

  • Irrigation facilities in an area helps in augmenting water supply in nearby villages and town.

Facilities of communication:

  • Irrigation channels are generally provided with embankments and inspection roads, which provides good roadways to village people.

Inland navigation:

  • Sometimes, larger irrigation canals can be used and developed for navigation purpose.


  • Trees are generally grown along the bank, which reduces soil erosion and air pollution, and increases timber wealth.

disadvantages of irrigation

Increase in food production:

  • It causes water pollution, i.e., seepage of nitrates into the ground water that have been applied to soil as fertiliser.

Optimum benefits:

  • Over irrigation can cause colder and damper climate, which may result in marshy lands. It may also cause breeding of mosquitoes, instigating an outbreak of diseases like malaria and dengue.

Elimination of mixed cropping:

  • Water logging is the main concern of over-irrigation as it reduces crop yields.

General prosperity:

  • Due to negligible revenue returns, procurement and supply of irrigation water is found to be complex and expensive.


  1. Mixed cropping means sowing together two or more crops in the field.
  2. Inferior crops are those crops, which can be cultivated in inferior condition, shows low yields and high suicide rate and here inferior conditions corresponds to:
    • Poor quality of soil
    • Less availability of water
      Examples: Bajra, jowar.

types of irrigation

Types of Irrigations

Surface irrigation:

In this method, water is distributed to the agricultural land through small channels, which flood the area up to the required depth.

The further classification is given below:

Lift irrigation:

It is defined as the water available at a low level lifted to a higher level by mechanical or manual means, and then supplied for irrigation.

Examples: Use of tube wells open wells for supplying irrigation water, for supplying irrigation water to the land at a higher level than the storage reservoir.

flow irrigation:

Water available at higher level is supplied to a lower level by the action of gravity.

The further classification is given below:

a) Perennial irrigation:

In this case, constant and continuous water supply is assured to the crop according to the crop requirement throughout the 'crop period'.

b) Direct irrigation:

When river runoff is diverted into the main canal for irrigation using diversion head work (weir or barrage) across the river, it is known as direct irrigation.

c) Storage irrigation:

Storage irrigation is when a dam is built across a river to store water during the monsoons so that it can be used during the dry season.

d) Flood irrigation:

Inundation irrigation is an alternate name for flood irrigation. In this situation, the soil is kept buried and completely saturated with water to create sand/soil saturation.

sub-Surface irrigation:

1) In this method, water does not wet the surface of the ground.

2) But the underground flow of water reaches the plant roots by capillarity.

3) Pipe networks are used for water application.

4) It consists of the main pipe, sub-main pipe and lateral perforated pipes.

5) It is further classified as:

a) Natural sub-irrigation:

i) Leakage of water from channels during the passage through sub soil irrigates crops sown on lower lands.

b) Artificial sub-irrigation:

i) When an artificially laid system of open jointed drains is laid below the soil to feed water to the crops by capillary action.

ii) It is a very costly process.


  1. Sowing two or more crops on the same field is known as mixed cropping.
  2. Irrigation is divided into surface irrigation and sub-surface irrigation.
  3. Water that is accessible at a low level is mechanically or manually lifted to a higher level, and then supplied for irrigation.
  4. Water available at higher level is supplied to a lower level by the action of gravity is known as flow irrigation.
  5. Flood irrigation is also called as inundation irrigation.
  6. In sub-surface irrigation, by capillarity, water moves underground and nourishes plant roots.

important quesstions about irrigation and types of irrigation

Question: What is the primary purpose of irrigation in civil engineering?

Answer: The primary purpose of irrigation in civil engineering is to supply controlled and adequate water to agricultural lands, urban areas, and various construction projects to support growth and development.

Question: What are the main objectives of irrigation systems in civil engineering?

Answer: The main objectives include providing water to crops, controlling flooding, and enhancing water resource management to optimize agricultural productivity and land use.

Question: How are irrigation systems categorized in civil engineering, and what are their differences?

Answer: Irrigation systems are categorized as surface irrigation (e.g., flood, furrow), localized irrigation (e.g., drip, sprinkler), and sub-irrigation. They differ in the method of water application, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

Question: What are the key components of an irrigation system used in civil engineering projects?

Answer: Essential components include water sources (like reservoirs or rivers), conveyance systems (canals or pipelines), distribution networks (ditches or pipelines), and application methods (drip, sprinklers, or flood irrigation).

Question: How does hydrology play a role in the design of irrigation systems in civil engineering?

Answer: Hydrology is critical for assessing water availability and determining water requirements for irrigation. It helps in designing systems that ensure a consistent water supply.

Question: How can engineers optimize the efficiency and sustainability of irrigation systems in civil engineering projects?

Answer: Efficiency and sustainability can be improved through better design, monitoring, and management. Techniques like soil moisture sensors and automated controllers help minimize water wastage and enhance sustainability.

Question: What challenges are associated with integrating irrigation systems with other civil engineering infrastructure?

Answer: Integrating irrigation with drainage and transportation networks is essential to manage water runoff and ensure efficient land use. Challenges include coordinating infrastructure design and maintenance.

Question: How does climate change affect irrigation practices in civil engineering, and how can systems adapt?

Answer: Climate change can alter precipitation patterns and water availability. Adaptation involves using more efficient irrigation methods, enhancing water storage, and improving infrastructure resilience.

Question: What are the environmental and ecological implications of irrigation projects in civil engineering?

Answer: Irrigation projects can impact local hydrology, water quality, and ecosystems. Mitigation strategies include sustainable water management, habitat restoration, and monitoring.

Question: How can modern technology and automation be integrated into irrigation systems for improved control and performance in civil engineering applications?

Answer: Modern technology, such as remote sensing, data analytics, and automation, can enhance irrigation control and performance by providing real-time data and enabling precision irrigation practices, resulting in improved resource use efficiency.

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