What is automatic irrigation?
Irrigation refers to the artificial application of water to land or soil that aids in the cultivation of agricultural crops in case of inadequate natural rainfall. A form of automatic irrigation refers to a system where irrigation operations are carried out with little to no manual intervention besides the surveillance of the system. Most modern irrigation systems can be automized with the help of timers, sensors, computers and mechanical appliances. Automation makes the irrigation process much more efficient and workers can concentrate on other important farming tasks. This process has various benefits and positive effects.
The process of distributing water to plants becomes more standardizes and felids or gardens do not have to be constantly controlled by an irrigator. The water is evenly distributed among all plants across the installed area. There are several solutions to create modern-day large-scale systems that allow vast areas to be covered by a single operator.
Sprinklers systems, drip irrigation systems and surface/ sub-surface irrigation systems require pumps and certain specifically designed high-tech components that can be used for large surfaces by skilled operators. However, automation of the irrigation systems can be done on a small scale as well with simple mechanical appliances.
Types of automated irrigation:
- Surface irrigation: This is the oldest form of automatic irrigation where the system water moves by following gravity or the slope of the land.
- Drip irrigation: This refers to a system where water is delivered to the roots of the plants drop by drop and is extremely water efficient.
- Sprinkler irrigation: This refers to an irrigation system where the pipe is set overhead to a central location and water is sprayed through pressure sprinklers or irrigation guns that are also mounted overhead.
- Water wheel irrigation: This refers to a type of irrigation where water is sprinkled to the plants in a circular pattern and the water is fed from a pivot point at the center of an arc. Hence this system is also known as center-pivot irrigation.
- Micro irrigation: This refers to a system where each plant is adjacent to the pipe where water is distributed at a low pressure. This is a very common and localized irrigation system in India.
- Lawn sprinkler irrigation: This refers to a system which consists of one or more zones and capacity water sources leading to the size limitation. These are commonly referred to as permanent sprinklers that are installed mainly in lawns, commercial landscapes, schools, gold courses etc.
Solar Powered Automatic Irrigation Systems:
This refers to the form of using an irrigation where the power used for the process of irrigation is obtained through solar panels which is connected to the power circuit. Solar energy is generated from the solar panels which is used for operating the irrigation pumps. Various sensors and monitors are installed across the entire set up to prevent any damages or accidents due to overheating. This mode of irrigation not only reduces human labor through automation but also reduces energy consumption through the used of solar instillations.
Advantages of irrigation automation:
- Time saving: Since the process of irrigation reduces and often removes manual labor, the entire irrigation can be completed much faster and more precisely than other traditional modes of irrigation.
- Reduction in water bill: The irrigation system provides the exact amount of water needed to the plants and this can be pre-decided and any excess wastages can be easily avoided with automatic irrigation
- Reduction in electricity bill: Out of the various irrigation modes available, choosing the right irrigation technique for the field will not only save water but also reduce the energy consumption during irrigation.
- Flexible: Irrigation systems that are automated are extremely flexible and can be programmed for the exact farmers needs at all times. Installing sensors and monitors to give information on the levels of water and temperature readings give a clear picture on the exact needs of the crops as well.
- Scheduled irrigation: Using automatic irrigation systems ensures that mistakes during the irrigation process are avoided and the schedule is followed automatically. Manual monitoring needs to be performed only in filling up the water tank and this gives farmers an added level of comfort by saving their time and energy.
- Other: Improves standard of living for farmers, prevents deforestation and famines, prevents the growth of weeds, improves soil fertility etc.
Disadvantages of irrigation automation:
• Cost: Depending on the size of the area to be covered, irrigation automating systems can vary in each case. Apart from this, certain portions of the lawn/ farm will have to be dug up in order to install the initial pipework to connect the plumbing system to the automated irrigation system.
• Repairs and maintenance: In case of any repairs and maintenance work, the regular farming activities will have to be paused and the land will have to be repaired post this. Its best to install irrigation automation systems before installing sod or performing any extensive landscaping as some of it may be torn apart and will require repairs post irrigation instalment. This may add to farmers cost and can be easily avoided if planned beforehand and properly.
• Natural factors: Even the most advanced irrigation systems can face certain disruptions due to natural calamities like hurricanes, wind storms and sand storms. These factors can wreak havoc on the entire irrigation system and cause the water direction to change and be in effective. Underground pests and insects can damage the water delivery systems below ground level resulting in water pooling or broken parts of the system. The repairs cost to fox such damages is drastically higher as compared to fixing or replacing a garden hose.
There are various types of automatic irrigation system and each type comes with its own set of pros and cons. Its best to get in touch with our team of highly trained members who can analyse and interpret the exact farming and farmers needs and provide the right type of irrigation automation system to suit the needs. This will not only increase farming efficiency but also help save costs and expenses in the long run.
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