Irrigation is the artificial application of water made for supplementing the moisture in the soil that is deficient and does not meet the full requirements of growing crops. Irrigation is essentially a practice of supplementing the natural precipitation for increasing production of agricultural and horticultural crops.
(a) Effective irrigation – It is the controlled and uniform application of water to cropland in required amount at the required time, to produce optimum yields. The cost of irrigation must be kept minimum and irrigation should be done without any wastage of water, which may cause adverse effect on the soil in the form of soil salinity and water logging problems. Almost all major crops are grown under irrigated condition. The most important one is rice in Tamil Nadu, which constitutes 67.5% of the total area under irrigation. The crops irrigated with flow irrigation from rivers and tanks are mostly rice and sugarcane and to a smaller extent banana and turmeric.
(b) Irrigation management – Regulating the activities based on the various resources for its efficient use and better out put i.e., allocation of all the resources for maximum benefit and to achieve the objectives, without eroding the environment is called management. Otherwise, it can be stated as planning, executing, monitoring, evaluating and re-organizing the whole activities to achieve the target. Management of water based on the soil and crop environment to obtain better yield by efficient use of water without any damage to the environment. Management of water, soil, plants, irrigation structure, irrigation reservoirs, environment, social set up and it’s inter liked relationship are studied in the irrigation management. Knowledge on the following aspects is necessary to device proper irrigation management.
• The soil physical and chemical properties,
• Biology of crop plants,
• Quantity of water available,
• Time of application of water,
• Method of application of water,
• Climatological or meteorological influence on irrigation, and
• Environment and its changes due to irrigation.
Management of all the above said factors constitute Irrigation Agronomy: Management of irrigation structures, conveyances, reservoirs constitute Irrigation Engineering; and social set up, activities, standard of living, irrigation policies, irrigation association and farmer’s participation, cost of irrigation etc., constitute Socio-economic study.
Irrigation management is a complex process of art and science involving application of water from source to crop field. The source may be a river or a well or a canal or a tank or a lake or a pond. Maintaining the irrigation channels without leakage and weed infestation, applying water to field by putting some local check structure like field inlet and boundaries for the area to be irrigated etc., need some skill.
These practices are the art involving practices in irrigation management. Time of irrigation and quantity of water to be applied (when to irrigate? and how much to irrigate?) based on soil types, climatic parameters, crop, varieties, growth stages, season, quality of water, uptake pattern of water by plants, etc., and method of application (How best to irrigate) includes conveyance of water without seepage and percolation losses and water movement in soil, are the process involving scientific irrigation management. Simply, it is a systematic approach of art and science involved in soil, plant and water by proper management of the resources (soil, plant and water) to achieve the goal of crop production.
(c) Importance – Irrigation management is very important
• To the development of nation through proper management of water resources for the purpose of crop production and other activities such as industrialization, power generation etc., which in turn provides employment opportunities and good living condition of the people.
• To store and regulate the water resources for further use or non-season use.
• To allocate the water with proper proportion based on area and crop under cultivation. (Balanced equity in distribution).
• To convey the water without much loss through percolation and seepage (Efficiency in use).
• To apply sufficient quantity to field crops (Optimization of use).
• To utilize the water considering cost-benefit (Economically viable management).
• To distribute the available water without any social problem (Judicial distribution).
• To meet the future requirement of agricultural and other sections (Resource conservation).
• To protect the environment from over use or misuse of water (Environment safe use).
(d) Impact of excess and insufficient irrigation water in crops – Avoid excess or insufficient water to the crops. Excess irrigation leads to wastage of large amount of water, leaching of plant nutrients, destruction of beneficial microbes, increase of expenses on drainage, accumulation of salt leading to salinity and alkalinity, water-logging leading to physiological stress and yield loss or crop failure.
Insufficient irrigation leads to reduction in quality of food grains, loss in crop yield or crop failure, poor soil environment etc. Water becomes a limiting resource due to the multi-various demand from sectors like agriculture, livestock, industries, power generation and increased urban and rural domestic use. The increasing population increases the needs of industrial complexes and urbanization to meet the basic requirement and also to provide employment opportunities. So the demand for water is increasing day by day and hence, it is essential to study water potential and its contribution to agriculture, which in turn is going to feed the growing population.
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