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Why is irrigation so important in agriculture?

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Note: this is a partnered post and consideration was received for its publication. CC-licensed photo by ukgardenphotos.

Irrigation is mainly a way of keeping plants watered, and it’s especially important in areas where rainfall might not be adequate. Although it’s often used in gardens, its most important application is in agriculture, where you’ll often see large irrigation systems put in place. However, irrigation wasn’t always as high-tech as it is now, and the concept was invented over 5,000 years ago. So, what is irrigation, and what is it used for?

Surface irrigation

When most people think of irrigation, they’re talking about surface irrigation, where sprinklers move across the surface of the land, wetting the soil. This allows for crops to be watered easily, and means farmers don’t have to worry about lack of rain.

Sprinkler systems

Sprinklers are a type of irrigation often used in people’s back yards, but they’re also useful in agriculture. Sprinklers can be placed at set points, and programmed to water efficiently, or you may see travelling sprinklers which move around different points of the farm.

Watering

Most people think that irrigation is all about watering the crops, and this is certainly the primary function. They’re either watered overhead, or via the soil, and this form of reticulation uses only the necessary amount of water for environmental reasons.

Revegetation

Irrigation can sometimes be used in revegetation, which is the process of rebuilding previously dead soil. Soil that has been dried out or disturbed can be revived through the right irrigation techniques, and this is important for farmers who want to reclaim their land.

Protecting plants

Protecting crops from frost is essential to their survival, and irrigation helps to stop frost from settling on plants. However, the irrigation system needs to be set up by professionals such as TLC Services Perth, as the sprinkler needs to work uniformly to prevent additional freezing of the plants.

Weed control

In some areas, irrigation is used to help with weed control, especially in rice and other grain fields. This is mostly when managing aquatic weeds, although a system called buried drip irrigation can be used, where drip tape deprives the weeds of water, while keeping plants hydrated.

Soil types

There are many different types of soil, and each one will benefit from different kinds of irrigation. That’s why it’s so important to find the right one, and to get the equipment properly fitted and calibrated. Improper irrigation can be counterproductive, and agricultural experts will know the right amount of water and methods to make the most of every drop.

Irrigation systems are a common sight on farms, and they make life easier for farmers. However, there’s more to them than simply watering plants. They are water efficient, which saves money and is environmentally friendly, and can help revive damaged areas of soil. Irrigation isn’t just a case of installing sprinklers. It’s a complex system which often needs re-calibrating for maximum efficiency, and there’s a real science behind it. Next time you pass a field and see crops growing, see if you can spot the complex irrigation systems in use.

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