Irrigation in India: Types and Methods of Irrigation in India

The process of Watering of agricultural plants and crops through artificially is called irrigation. Water is an essential element for humans, animals, and trees. The human body contains about 70% water. Plants and trees contain 90% water for their survival. India is a hot country. Due to seasonal and irregular rainfall in India, it is difficult to carry out agricultural activities during the dry period. Beside erratic rainfall, the prevalence of high temperatures, the cultivation of annual crops, commercial farming, and porous soil make irrigation essential for agriculture in our country. Here read more about irrigation in India.

Sources of Irrigation in India

Different sources of irrigation are used in India depending upon the various reasons:

  • topography
  • soils
  • rainfall
  • availability of groundwater
  • nature of river
  • requirements of crops etc.

The main sources of irrigation used in the various parts of India are;

  • Canal irrigation
  • Well irrigation
  • Tank irrigation

Canal Irrigation

Canal Irrigation is the second most important source of irrigation in our country. Canals are the most effective source of irrigation in areas of low level relief, deep, fertile soils, perennial source of water and extensive command area.

Canals are of two types in India:

  • Inundation Canals
  • Perennial Canals
Inundation Canals:

Without making any barrage or dam, water is used directly from the rivers.

Perennial Canals:

This type of canals is developed from perennial rivers by constructing barrage or a dam to regulate the flow of water. In our country, most of the canals fall under this category. These canals are useful for irrigation.

The total area under canal irrigation is about 15.8 million hectares in India as of 2014. About 60% of the canal irrigated area falls in the northern plains of India.

Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu are the important states where canal irrigation is found.

Well Irrigation

Well irrigation is the most important source of irrigation. Because it contributes about 62% of the net irrigated area in India. It is a cheap, dependable, and popular source of irrigation in India.

Well irrigation is more necessary in the areas of low rainfall and where the canals and tank irrigation are not available.

Wells are of two types in India

  1. Open wells
  2. Tube wells
Open Wells

The Open Well irrigation is widely used in the areas where groundwater is sufficiently available. These types of areas are found in below valleys;

  • Ganga Plains
  • The deltaic region of Mahanadi
  • Godavari
  • Krishna
  • Cauvery
  • some parts of Narmada and Tapti valleys
Tube Wells

Tube wells are used in the areas where groundwater is sufficiently unavailable. Tube wells are mostly used in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

Tank Irrigation

A tank is a natural or man-made hollow on the surface developed by constructing a small bund around it across a stream. It is used to collect and store water for irrigation and other purposes. Tank Irrigation is a very old system in India. It also includes irrigation from lakes and ponds.

The tank irrigation is popular in peninsular India due to the following reasons:

  • The undulating relief and hard rocks make it difficult to dig canals and wells.
  • Absence of perennial rivers.
  • Impermeable rock structure which does not permit percolation.
  • The scattered nature of population and agricultural fields

Tank Irrigation is mostly used in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka

Also Read Wild life of India

Modern Irrigation methods in India

In this modern era, Modern Irrigation mostly used. In India, methods are used for irrigation:

  • Drip System
  • Sprinklers System
  • Central pivot irrigation

Drip System

Drip System is used to water like drops near the roots of the plant. It will cover a tiny area at the plant. It is also used for big trees and horticulture plants.

In the Drip system, Narrow pipes with small holes are laid on the fields. When water flows through the pipes, it drips at the place of the roots of the plants. No water wasted in this method.

Sprinklers System

Sprinklers System is used to spread water like rain. In this system water distributed through pumps and Pipes. Here a pump is connected to pipes that generate pressure and water is sprinkled through nozzles of pipes.

It used to serve for crops that used to grow up to 4 feet or high also but we have to adjust sprinkler’s height as per crop size. Typically Sprinklers System used in sugarcane, maize crops. Sprinklers System is known as Rain Gun System.

Center-pivot irrigation System

Center-pivot irrigation also called central pivot irrigation, waterwheel, and circle irrigation. Center-pivot irrigation is a method of crop irrigation in which equipment rotates around a pivot and crops are watered with sprinklers.

River Valley Projects for Irrigation

It is the scientific management of water resources in our country. Construction of dam across rivers is aimed at many purposes.

It is termed as multi-purpose river valley projects. Because these are used for multi-purposes like:

  • Irrigation
  • Hydropower generation
  • Water supply for drinking purposes
  • Water supply industrial purpose
  • controlling floods
  • development of fisheries etc.

Generally, the majority of multipurpose projects are a combination of irrigation and hydro-power which are the major aims of the projects.

Projects in India

(SQ K.M.)
Damodar Valley projectDamodarJharkhand, West Bengal             5,150          0.26
Bhakra-Nangal ProjectSutlejPunjab, Haryana and Rajasthan           52,609        1,500
Hirakud ProjectMahanadiOdisha       1,41,600        347.5
Kosi ProjectKosiBihar & Nepal             8,750          19.2
Tungabhadra ProjectTungabhadraAndhra Pradesh and Karnataka             1,968              35
Tehri DamBhagirathiUttarakhand             6,000        1,000
Chambal Valley ProjectChambalRajasthan and Madhya Pradesh                    –                 –  
Nagarjuna Sagar ProjectKrishnaAndhra Pradesh                    –                 –  
Sardar Sarover ProjectNarmadaMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan           18,450           250
Indira Gandhi Canal ProjectSatlajRajasthan, Punjab and Haryana                    –                 –  
Mettur DamKaveriTamil Nadu                    –                40

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