Surface irrigation utilizes evenly spaced channels, or furrows, to direct free-flowing surface water into the basin or field. The land must be sloped, and the water enters the field on the high end and flows to the low end where the excess is collected and returned to a distribution ditch. Surface irrigation has the following advantages: (1) high application rates, (2) low capital investment, and (3) effectiveness on soils with surface crusting. Limitations and disadvantages include (1) the potential for excessive soil erosion, (2) concentration of salts on the furrow ridges through evaporation of water from the soil, (3) ineffectiveness on sandy or coarse-textured soils, (4) subsurface water loss, (5) high water loss from evaporation, and (6) a requirement for land leveling.
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