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How farmers irrigate their crops

Irrigation is the the controlled application of water for agricultural purposes through manmade systems to supply water requirements not satisfied by rainfall. Crop irrigation is vital throughout the world in order to provide the world’s ever-growing populations with enough food. Many different irrigation methods are used worldwide, including:

  • Center-Pivot: Automated sprinkler irrigation achieved by automatically rotating the sprinkler pipe or boom, supplying water to the sprinkler heads or nozzles, as a radius from the center of the field to be irrigated. Water is delivered to the center or pivot point of the system. The pipe is supported above the crop by towers at fixed spacings and propelled by pneumatic, mechanical, hydraulic, or electric power on wheels or skids in fixed circular paths at uniform angular speeds. Water is applied at a uniform rate by progressive increase of nozzle size from the pivot to the end of the line. The depth of water applied is determined by the rate of travel of the system. Single units are ordinarily about 1,250 to 1,300 feet long and irrigate about a 130-acre circular area.
  • Drip: A planned irrigation system in which water is applied directly to the Root Zone of plants by means of applicators (orifices, emitters, porous tubing, perforated pipe, etc.) operated under low pressure with the applicators being placed either on or below the surface of the ground.
  • Flood: The application of irrigation water where the entire surface of the soil is covered by ponded water.
  • Furrow: A partial surface flooding method of irrigation normally used with clean-tilled crops where water is applied in furrows or rows of sufficient capacity to contain the designed irrigation system.
  • Gravity: Irrigation in which the water is not pumped but flows and is distributed by gravity.
  • Rotation: A system by which irrigators receive an allotted quantity of water, not a continuous rate, but at stated intervals.
  • Sprinkler: A planned irrigation system in which water is applied by means of perforated pipes or nozzles operated under pressure so as to form a spray pattern.
  • Subirrigation: Applying irrigation water below the ground surface either by raising the water table within or near the root zone or by using a buried perforated or porous pipe system that discharges directly into the root zone.
  • Traveling Gun: Sprinkler irrigation system consisting of a single large nozzle that rotates and is self-propelled. The name refers to the fact that the base is on wheels and can be moved by the irrigator or affixed to a guide wire.
  • Supplemental: Irrigation to ensure increased crop production in areas where rainfall normally supplies most of the moisture needed.
  • Surface: Irrigation where the soil surface is used as a conduit, as in furrow and border irrigation as opposed to sprinkler irrigation or subirrigation.

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