Irrigation made simple: History, Benefits, Guides

irrigation made simple

One of humans most needed essential resources is food.  As technology in the agriculture industry has developed the ways and methods for supplying this demand has changed and became more efficient. Throughout time this need/demand has increased. Therefore, depending on rainwater to fulfill these needs is quite unrealistic. Furthermore, irrigation has become a much-needed factor in today’s world crop production.




We have defined Irrigation before but as a reminder it is defined as the supplementation of precipitation by storage and transportation of water to the fields for the proper growth of agricultural crops. There have been studies have revealed that irrigation benefits in agriculture were seen as a fancy process during prehistoric times when there was not appropriate amounts of water available from the rain.


The Sumerians of Mesopotamia were the first to use irrigation for agriculture. They used the waters drawn from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In Iran, the Kareze irrigation system was developed about 3000 years ago. Crop rotation was also practiced at that time in which crops were yearly alternated on the same field. The purpose was to restore nutrients that had been used and depleted. In North America, Spanish and Americans built canals along the Rio Grande. With the development of agriculture, irrigation became more pronounced in the Indus Valley. And the Egyptians utilized water from the Nile River for irrigation.


Today, 689 million acres of agricultural land are equipped with irrigation facilities across the whole world. Out of this, 68% of irrigated land is in Asia, 17% in North America, 9% in Europe, 5% in Africa and 1% in Oceania.


Types of Irrigation


In previous articles, we have referenced many different types of irrigation systems that are utilizes throughout the world.


  • Surface Irrigation: Water flows under gravity and is spread over the area. The water then infiltrates to the subsoil. Quite often, land gets flooded, however. This is called, flood irrigation. Dikes are constructed to control the water level.
  • Localized Irrigation: Water is distributed through a network of pipes under low pressure. Drip irrigation, bubble irrigation, and spray irrigation all come under this category.
  • Drip Irrigation: Water is spread drop by drop onto the root of the plants. The advantage of this method of irrigation is that losses due to runoff and evaporation are reduced to a considerable extent.
  • Sprinkler Irrigation: Water is distributed through high pressure sprinklers. These sprinklers are located in one or more central locations. The sprinklers can also be mounted onto moving platforms.
  • Manual Irrigation: This is labor intensive. In this, buckets and water cans are used to carry and distribute water.


Irrigation Benefits


  • Irrigation helps to increase agricultural production. The yield for irrigated crops are expected to be two to three times higher.
  • It helps to utilize land for agriculture.
  • Diversification of crops like corn, beans, peas and so on can be harvested.
  • High valued cash crops like tobacco, or sugar cane are grown as annual crops with the help of ground water irrigation.
  • From the irrigated fields, the yields are stable and reliable. Assured production targets can be met.
  • Reduces fluctuations in the year-to-year yields and the risk of crop failure due to drought.
  • Allows for continuous cultivation.
  • As pumps and other ancillary equipment are required, there is an increased demand for irrigation equipment.