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Irrigation System in India, Types, Features, Advantages, Disadvantages

Irrigation System

In the vast realm of agriculture, the significance of a reliable irrigation system cannot be overstated. As water scarcity and unpredictable rainfall patterns continue to pose challenges to crop cultivation, an efficient and sustainable irrigation system becomes an indispensable asset for farmers worldwide. The ability to provide a controlled water supply to crops, ensuring their optimal growth and yield, lies at the core of successful agriculture. In this article, we delve into the world of irrigation systems, exploring its various dimensions. 

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What is Irrigation System?

An irrigation system is a method or infrastructure used to provide water to crops in agricultural fields. It helps in supplementing natural rainfall by delivering water directly to the plant’s root zones. The system typically involves the use of pipes, channels, pumps, sprinklers or drip emitters to distribute water efficiently and effectively across the cultivated area. The main purpose of an irrigation system is to ensure that crops receive adequate moisture for their growth, even in areas with limited rainfall or during dry seasons. It plays a vital role in maintaining crop health, optimizing yield, and supporting sustainable agricultural practices.

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Types of Irrigation System 

Various types of irrigation systems are employed worldwide to meet the diverse needs of different regions and crops. Here is a tabulated description of them.

Irrigation System Characteristics Prominent Areas of Usage
Surface Irrigation Water is distributed over the soil surface and infiltrates the soil through gravity flow.
  • India: Gangetic plains (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh)
  • China: North China Plain
  • United States: Central Valley (California), Mississippi Delta
Sprinkler Irrigation Water is sprayed through sprinklers, creating a fine mist that falls onto the crops.
  • Israel: Negev Desert
  • United States: Great Plains (Kansas, Nebraska)
  • Australia: Murray-Darling Basin
Drip Irrigation Water is applied directly to the plant root zone in small, controlled amounts through drip emitters.
  • Spain: Almería region
  • India: Maharashtra (Grapes), Tamil Nadu (Horticulture)
  • United States: California (Vegetable crops), Arizona (Cotton)
Center Pivot Irrigation Water is distributed from a central pivot point, with sprinklers rotating in a circular pattern.
  • United States: Midwest (Iowa, Nebraska)
  •  Saudi Arabia: Al-Kharj region
  • Brazil: Mato Grosso
Subsurface Irrigation Water is delivered directly to the root zone through buried pipes or tubes.
  • Egypt: Nile River Delta 
  • Netherlands: Greenhouse cultivation
  • China: Xinjiang region

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Irrigation System in India

In India, where agriculture plays a vital role in the economy, the availability and efficient use of water resources are of utmost importance. With diverse climatic conditions and varying water availability across different regions, a range of irrigation systems are utilized to meet the irrigation needs of crops. Here is a tabulated description about the different types. 

Irrigation System Features Advantages Disadvantages Areas of Practice
Canal Irrigation Water supplied through canals from rivers or reservoirs
  • Provides a consistent water supply
  • Facilitates irrigation over a large area
  • Supports a variety of crops
  • Water losses due to seepage and evaporation
  • Requires regular maintenance of canals
Gangetic plains, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan
Tank Irrigation Water stored in tanks or reservoirs during the monsoon
  • Utilizes local water resources
  •  Supports irrigation in areas with irregular rainfall
  • Promotes groundwater recharge
  • Dependence on rainfall for tank replenishment
  • Limited water storage capacity
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Deccan Plateau
Well Irrigation Water extracted from underground wells using pumps
  • Allows access to groundwater resource
  • Reliable water supply
  • Suitable for individual farmers
  • Dependence on groundwater levels
  • High initial investment Risk of over-extraction and groundwater depletion
Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat
Tube Well Irrigation Water extracted from deeper underground sources using tube wells
  • Access to deeper groundwater resources
  • Reliable water supply
  • Supports high-yielding crops
  • High installation and maintenance costs
  • Energy-intensive
  •  Risk of groundwater depletion
Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar
River Lift Irrigation Water lifted from a river and distributed through canals for irrigation
  • Utilizes river water for irrigation
  • Supports a large agricultural area
  • Allows water distribution over long distances
  • Dependence on river water availability
  • High capital and maintenance costs
  • Can be affected by changes in river flow and sedimentation
Punjab, Haryana (from Sutlej River), Tamil Nadu (from Cauvery River), Andhra Pradesh (from Krishna River), Telangana (from Godavari River)
Drip Irrigation Water delivered directly to the plant root zone through small emitters
  • Precise water application
  • Minimized water losses due to evaporation and runoff
  • Improved water and nutrient efficiency
  • Higher initial investment costs
  • Need for regular maintenance and monitoring
  • Potential clogging of drip emitters
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu

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Irrigation System UPSC 

The topic of irrigation systems holds significant importance in the UPSC examination as it aligns with key areas of the UPSC Syllabus, such as Geography, Economy, and Agriculture. Understanding irrigation systems is crucial for comprehending the agricultural landscape, water resource management, and socio-economic aspects of various regions. It is essential for UPSC aspirants to have a comprehensive knowledge of irrigation systems as it aids in formulating effective policies, addressing water-related challenges, and promoting sustainable development. UPSC Online Coaching and UPSC Mock Test can provide candidates with in-depth insights and practical application of concepts related to irrigation systems, enabling them to excel in the examination.

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Irrigation System FAQs

What are the systems of irrigation?

The systems of irrigation refer to various methods used to deliver water to crops for their growth and productivity.

What are the 4 types of irrigation?

The four types of irrigation are surface irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation, and sub-surface irrigation.

What is the main irrigation system in India?

The main irrigation system in India is canal irrigation.

Which state is first in irrigation in India?

Rajasthan is the first state in irrigation in India.

Which is the largest irrigation in India?

The Indira Gandhi Canal, also known as the Rajasthan Canal, is the largest irrigation canal in India.

About the Author

I, Sakshi Gupta, am a content writer to empower students aiming for UPSC, PSC, and other competitive exams. My objective is to provide clear, concise, and informative content that caters to your exam preparation needs. I strive to make my content not only informative but also engaging, keeping you motivated throughout your journey!


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