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pivot 03rIt is well known that converting to pivot irrigation will produce higher yields and save water thanks to Valley pivots and linear irrigators.

So, why convert from flood irrigation to mechanized irrigation systems?

Mechanical move irrigation is a proven method for conserving water, time, labour and chemicals while greatly reducing runoff and contamination of streams and wetlands. And best of all, studies show that in nearly every case, mechanical move irrigation produces higher yields. Switching from flood/furrow irrigation to a mechanized system results in:

  • Uniformly applying the correct amount of water at the right time 
  • Using less water for less waste 
  • Lower energy costs 
  • Lower labour costs 
  • Years and years of use 
  • Fewer maintenance hassles 
  • Less stress on the environment

Flood irrigation is one of the oldest methods of irrigation and can also be referred to as surface or furrow. Flood irrigation is a rather self-explanatory process. In this irrigation type, the field is flooded with water and then absorbed. This is a common type of irrigation; however, it does present with a few downsides. The biggest downside is the sheer amount of water used. As the name suggests, water used in flood irrigation is almost “uncontrolled” and is applied in large amounts to large areas. Because of how the water is applied to the field, the efficiency of this irrigation type is 40-50%.

Soils and plants can only absorb water so quickly, and that’s why it’s important to know how your field will respond to different water applications. Because flood irrigation saturates the soil so quickly, the plant roots cannot take advantage of all the water available. As a result, large amounts of water can trickle down past the roots, also known as leeching, and waste resources. Other water loss can include runoff and evaporation.

Another risk associated with flood irrigation is waterlogging. Waterlogging occurs when a plant’s roots have too much water, and the plant’s growth will be stunted until enough water has drained from the root zone. Situations like this also run the risk of plants becoming increasingly susceptible to disease. The over-abundance of water is likely to negatively impact crop yields.

There have been many successful flood irrigation operations in the past and there are likely to be many more. Unfortunately, the need to conserve resources is growing and most producers will not be able to support the amount of water required for high yields. Before deciding on flood, we recommend that one should learn about additional methods like drip or mechanized systems. These are typically much more efficient in the application of water, nutrients, and chemicals.