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Unit 5

5.5 Irrigation Methods

2 min readmay 1, 2020

Mark Little

AP Environmental Science ♻️

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Irrigation accounts for approximately 70% of freshwater use worldwide. There are various types of irrigation.  These include spray irrigation, flood irrigation, furrow irrigation and drip irrigation.  

Spray Irrigation

Water is distributed and sprayed over the field from a central location. This method is more efficient than flood irrigation because it requires less water and a lot less water is lost to evaporation or runoff.   

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Flood Irrigation

Is a type of surface irrigation. Water is dumped onto the land and distributed all over the field. 

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Furrow Irrigation

This Is a type of surface irrigation that uses trenches that are dug between rows of crops. Furrow irrigation is inexpensive and there is some water loss.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Drip Irrigation

A localized irrigation system that conserves water and distributes water close to the plant roots. Drip irrigation uses a hose with holes in it and is by far the most efficient way to irrigate but it is the most costly as well. 

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia


A process by which salt remains in the soil after the water evaporates.  This salt buildup overtime is toxic to plants. Monitoring your soil, maintaining proper vegetation and the utilization of proper irrigation techniques for the soil conditions help reduce the chances of salinization occurring. Aquifers are underground water storage for groundwater. It gathers water that seeps through porous rock, permeable rock (like sandstone or soil), and percolates down to where the water is trapped in by non porous rock, such as clay. One of the largest aquifers is the Ogallala aquifer found in the great plains. To use the water from an aquifer, the water needs to be pumped out and an aquifer can be recharged with water, but it takes a long time to replenish.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia


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