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L-T-P-C: 4-0-0-3


1. Definition: Irrigation is the controlled application of water
on the field for crop/plant production. It is also adopted for
maintenance of landscapes and revegetation of disturbed soils
in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall.
2. Aims and Objectives:

Ensure enough moisture essential for plant growth.

Provide crop insurance against short duration drought.

Cool the soil and atmosphere to provide a suitable surrounding.

Wash out or dilute harmful salt, chemical in the soil.

Reduce hazards of soil piping.

Soften the tillage pan.

3. Necessity:

Uncertainty of Monsoon rainfall both in time and place.

Irregularity in distribution of rainfall throughout the year.
Excessive rainfall causing flood.
Draught is an annual event in some areas.
India is a land of Rabi Crops. But there is no rainfall in winter months.
Some soils need more water.
Introduction of H.Y.V seeds and multiple cropping need water throughout the year.

4. Benefits and Ill-effects of irrigation:

1. Increase in food production 1. Water logging and salinity
2. Protection from famine
2. Breeding places for mosquitoes & Malaria
3. Cultivation of Cash crops (sugarcane, cotton)
4. Increase in prosperity of people (good yield) 3. Unhealthy Climate: Due to intense irrigation the
5. Inland Navigation climate becomes damp during summer due to
humidity, the climate is sultry and in winter it
6. Communication: Main canals in large irrigation becomes excessively cold.
projects are provided with inspection roads. These
roads can be used as a means of communication. 4. Careless use of water leads to wastage of useful
7. Canal plantation irrigation water for which any government will have
8. Improvement in ground water storage incurred huge amounts.

5. Irrigation Development in India:

Can be traced back to prehistoric times.

Vedas, Ancient Indian writers have made references to wells, canals, tanks and dams.

These irrigation technologies were in the form of small and minor works, operated by small households

In the south, perennial irrigation may have begun with construction of the Grand Anicut by the Cholas as
early as second century to provide irrigation from the Cauvery River.

The entire landscape in the central and southern India is studded with numerous irrigation tanks which
have been traced back to many centuries before the beginning of the Christian era.

In northern India there are a number of small canals in the upper valleys of rivers which are very old.

5.1 Irrigation during Medieval India

Ghiyasuddin Tughluq (1220-1250) is credited to be the first ruler who encouraged digging canals.

Fruz Tughlug (1351-86) is considered to be the greatest canal builder.

Irrigation was the reason for expansion of the Vijayanagar Empire in southern India in the 15th century.

Babur, in his memoirs called Baburnamah gave a vivid description of prevalent modes of irrigation
practices in India at that time.

The Gabar Bunds captured and stored annual runoff from surrounding mountains to be made available to
tracts under cultivation.

5.2 Irrigation Development under British Rule

Close to 19th century according to sources of irrigation; canals irrigated 45 %, wells 35 %, tanks 15 %
and other sources 5%. Famines of 1897-98 and 1899-1900 necessitated British to appoint first irrigation
commission in 1901, especially to report on irrigation as a means of protection against famine in India.
As a result of recommendations of first irrigation commission total irrigated area by public and private
works increased to 16 Mha in 1921. From the beginning of 19th century to 1921 there was no significant
increase in tube well irrigated area. During 1910 to 1950 growth rate of irrigation was estimated at 2.0 %
per annum for government canal irrigation, 0.54 % per annum for well irrigation and 0.98 % per annum
in respect of irrigation from all sources.

5.3 Irrigation Development at Time of Independence

At time of independence net irrigated area of India under British rule which include Bangladesh and
Pakistan was 28.2 Mha. After partition net irrigated area in India and Pakistan being 19.4 Mha and 8.8
Mha respectively. [12]

5.4 Plan Development

CADWM Programme AIBP Programme Bharat Nirman

Under the Irrigation Component of Bharat Nirman, the target of creation of additional irrigation potential of
1 crore hectare in 4 years (2005-06 to 2008-09) is planned to be meet largely through expeditious
completion of identified ongoing MAJOR and MEDIUM irrigation projects. Irrigation potential of 42 lakh
hectare is planned to be created by expeditiously completing such ongoing major and medium projects.

5.5 Irrigation Potential Created So Far

The total irrigation potential created till the end of 11th Plan 113 million ha
(from Major, Medium and Minor Irrigation Schemes) (81% of Ultimate)
Ultimate Irrigation Potential 140 million ha
Utilization efficiency 30-40%

Irrigation Scheme Classification:

(The Planning Commission, GoI)

Major irrigation Scheme : > 10,000 ha of CCA

Medium irrigation Schemes : 2,000-10,000 ha of CCA
Minor Irrigation Scheme : Up to 2000 ha of CCA

6. Periodicity of droughts in different regions

Region Recurrence of the period
deficient rainfall
Assam Very rare, once in 15

West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Konkan,

Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Bihar, Orissa Once in 5

South interior Karnataka, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Vidarbha Once in 4


Gujarat, eastern Rajasthan, western Uttar Pradesh,

Tamil Nadu, Kashmir, Rayalaseema, Telengana Once in 4

Western Rajasthan Once in 2 years

7. Status of Irrigation in the NER: ASSIGNMENT-1

8. Types of Irrigation (20-1-17):

A. Surface Irrigation B. Sub-surface irrigation.

(A) Surface Irrigation: In this type WATER WETS THE SOIL SURFACE. Its classified into:
Flow Irrigation: When water is supplied from
higher level to lower level by the action of gravity
then it is called flow irrigation. The irrigation from
canal water or river water is the example of flow

Lift Irrigation: When water is lifted up by any

manual or mechanical means such as Persian wheel,
pumps, etc. and then supplied for irrigation then it is
called lift irrigation.

Flow irrigation can be further subdivided into:

(a) Perennial irrigation (b) Flood irrigation

Perennial Irrigation- In this type of irrigation system, the water requirement for irrigation is supplied
constantly and continuously in accordance with crop requirements throughout the crop period. In this system
of irrigation, water is supplied through the storage canal head works and canal distribution system.
Perennial canal system may be further sub-divided as follows:

Direct Irrigation- When irrigation is done from direct run off of a river, or by diverting the river runoff water
into some canal by constructing a diversion weir or barrage across the river. For example, Ganga Irrigation
canal system.

Storage Irrigation- When a dam is constructed across a river to store water during the
monsoon and the stored water is supplied in the off taking channels during periods of
low flow, it is called storage irrigation. For example, Ram Ganga dam project in UP. In
coastal areas where rivers are not perennial storage irrigation becomes a necessity.
However, it is more expensive and difficult to construct.

Flood Irrigation- This kind of irrigation is sometimes called as Inundation

irrigation. In this method of irrigation soil is kept submerged and flooded
with water, so as to cause thorough saturation of the land.

(B) Sub-surface Irrigation: In this type of irrigation, WATER DOES NOT

WET THE SOIL SURFACE. In this system of irrigation the supplied water
comes directly in touch with root zone of the crops. This system of irrigation may
be employed usefully under the following conditions:

(a) Topography of an area is uniform.

(b) Land slope is moderate.
(c) The quality of irrigation water is good.
(d) The soil in the roof zone is permeable in nature.

Sub-surface irrigation may be classified into two types:

(a) Natural sub-irrigation and (b) Artificial sub-irrigation.

Natural Sub-irrigation- When underground irrigation can be achieved simply

by natural processes without any extra efforts it is called natural sub-
Irrigation. In fact leakage water from channel, etc. goes underground and
during seepage through the sub soil, it may irrigate the crop in the lower

Artificial Sub-irrigation- When the open jointed system of drain is

artificially laid below the soil so as to supply the water to the crop by
capillary action, then it is known as artificial sub-irrigation. This process is
not adopted in India because it is very costly (disadvantage).

9. Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Irrigation Types:


Farmers/irrigators generally have minimal understanding of how to operate

and maintain the system.
These systems can be developed at the farm level with minimal capital
The control and regulation structures are simple, durable and easily
Essential structures being located at edges of fields, they facilitate operation
and maintenance activities.
Energy requirements come from gravity. This is a significant advantage in
today's economy.
They are less affected by climatic and water quality characteristics.
Salinity problem is less under surface irrigation than the pressurized systems.
Surface systems are better able to utilize water supplies that are available less
frequently, more uncertain, and more variable in rate and duration.
The gravity flow system is a highly flexible, relatively easily-managed
method of irrigation.


The soil which must be used to convey the water over the field has properties
that are highly varied both spatially and temporally.

They become almost undefinable except immediately preceding the watering or

during it. This creates an engineering problem in which at least two of the primary
design variables (discharge and time of application), must be estimated not only
at the field layout stage but also judged by the irrigator prior to the initiation of
every surface irrigation event.

Thus while it is possible for the new generation of surface irrigation methods to
be attractive alternatives to sprinkler and trickle systems, their associated design
and management practices are much more difficult to define and implement.

Although they need not be, surface irrigation systems are typically less efficient in
applying water than either sprinkler or trickle systems.

The need to use the field surface as a conveyance and distribution facility
requires that fields be well graded if possible.

Land levelling costs can be high so the surface irrigation practice tends to be
limited to land already having small, even slopes.
Surface systems tend to be labour-intensive.

Difficulty in applying light, frequent irrigations early and late in the growing season
of several crops.

For example, in heavy calcareous soils where crust formation after the first
irrigation and prior to the germination of crops, a light irrigation to soften the crust
would improve yields substantially. Under surface irrigation systems this may be
unfeasible or impractical as either the supply to the field is not readily available or
the minimum depths applied would be too great.

10. Irrigation Schemes in India & NER:


1. Soil Characteristics of Irrigation Water:

Both soil and water are essential for plant growth.

The soil provides a structural base to the plants and allows the
root system (the foundation of the plant) to spread and get a
strong hold.
The pores of the soil within the root zone hold moisture which
clings to the soil particles by surface tension in the driest state or
may fill up the pores partially or fully saturating with it useful
nutrients dissolved in water, essential for the growth of the plants.
The roots of most plants also require oxygen for respiration.
Hence, full saturation of the soil pores leads to restricted root
growth for these plants. (There are exceptions, though, like the
rice plant, in which the supply of oxygen to the roots is made from
the leaves through aerenchyma cells which are continuous from
the leaves to the roots).
Since irrigation practice is essentially, an adequate and timely
supply of water to the plant root zone for optimum crop yield, the
study of the inter relationship between soil pores, its water-holding
capacity and plant water absorption rate is fundamentally
In this lesson we discuss the essentials which are important to an
Irrigation Engineer contemplating development of a command
area through scientifically designed irrigation system.

Soil-water system
Soil is a heterogeneous mass consisting of
a three phase system of solid, liquid and
gas. Mineral matter, consisting of sand, silt
and clay and organic matter form the
largest fraction of soil and serves as a
framework (matrix) with numerous pores
of various proportions. The void space
within the solid particles is called the soil
pore space. Decayed organic matter
derived from the plant and animal remains
are dispersed within the pore space.

The soil air is totally expelled from soil when water is present in excess amount than
can be stored. On the other extreme, when the total soil is dry, the water molecules
surround the soil particles as a thin film. In such a case, pressure lower than
atmospheric thus results due to surface tension capillarity and it is not possible to
drain out the water by gravity. The salts present in soil water further add to these
forces by way of osmotic pressure. The roots of the plants in such a soil state need to
exert at least an equal amount of force for extracting water from the soil mass for their
growth. In the following sections, we discuss certain important terms and concepts
related to the soil-water relations.
Soil Properties: The important properties that classify soil according to its
relevance to making crop production (in turn affecting the decision making process
of irrigation engg.) are: Soil texture Soil structure
Soil texture: This refers to the relative sizes of soil particles
in a given soil. According to their sizes, soil particles are
grouped into gravel, sand, silt and clay. The relative
proportions of sand, silt and clay is a soil mass determines
the soil texture.
Sand : 2.0-0.05 mm
Silt : 0.05-0.002 mm
Clay : <0.002 mm
According to textural gradations a soil may be broadly classified as:
Open/light textured soil: mainly coarse or sandy with low
content of silt & clay.
Medium textured soil: contains sand, silt & clay in sizeable
proportions (loamy soil)
Tight or heavy textured soils: these contain high proportion
of clay.
The Figure BELOW presents the textural classification of 12 main textural classes as
identified by the USDA, which is also followed by Soil Survey Organizations of India.

Tell me what the textural class is if we have: What would we have if we had a soil with
42% sand, 35% silt, & 23% clay. 8% sand, 32% clay, and 60% silt?
Ans: We would have a loam!! Ans: We would have a Silty Clay loam!!

NOTE: Each textural class name indicates the size of the mineral particles that
are dominant in the soil.

Importance of Soil Texture:

It greatly affects land use and management.
It affects the amount of water & nutrients that a soil can hold & supply to
Soil structure & movement of air & water through the soil are affected by
Organics in Soil Texture:
Sand, silt, and clay are the only particles used to determine soil texture.
Soil texture refers only to the mineral fraction of the soil.
Organic matter is not considered when determining texture or textural
A precise analysis of soil texture requires that organic matter be removed.

Soil Structure:

Refers to arrangement of soil particles/aggregates w.r.t. to each other.

Aggregates are groups of individual soil particles adhering together.
Soil structure is an important property, because it influences-
Aeration Permeability Water holding capacity, etc.
Three (3) indicators to Classify Soil Structure:
Indicator-1 (Type): 4 types of primary structures-
Indicator-2 (Class): 5 recognized classes-


Indicator-3 (Grade): termed as-

(depending on the stability of the aggregates when disturbed)


Soil Classification (India)
Soils vary widely in their characteristics and properties. In order to establish
the inter-relationship between their characteristics, they need to be classified. In
India, the soils may be grouped into the following types:

Alluvial soils Black soils Red soils

Laterites and Lateritic soils Desert soils Problem soils

2. Soil Water Classifications (Physical):

Though the soil particles often lie close to each other yet some angular space
is always present there.
All such spaces in the soil are collectively called pore space.

Pore space comprises a fairly constant volume in soil (40-60% of total soil
volume), which remains filled with water and gases in varying proportions.

In a dry soil, water occupies a very small proportion of this space.

In a wet soil, it is water that occupies most of this space. The soil, in fact,
acts as a water reservoir for plants.

The water stored in the soil may be classified into the following
four (4) groups (Fig. 2.1):

Water present in soil is following type:

(a) Gravitational water: free water that moves through the soil due to the force of gravity.

It is found in the macro-pores.

It moves rapidly out of well-drained soil and is not considered to be available
to plants.
Drains out of the soil in 2-3 days

(b) Capillary water (Water of Cohesion): Water in the micro-pores, the soil solution.

Most, but not all, of this water is available for plant growth
Capillary water is held in the soil against the pull of gravity
Forces Acting on Capillary Water micropores exert more force on water than do
Capillary water is held by cohesion (attraction of water molecules to each other)
and adhesion (attraction of water molecule to the soil particle).
The amount of water held is a function of the pore size (cross-sectional
diameter) and pore space (total volume of all pores)
This means that the tension (measured in bars) is increasing as the soil dries out.

Capillary Water-Types:

(A) Inner Capillary Water: It is that part of capillary water, which is nearest to the hygroscopic water and
is in the form of a thinner film, held more tightly and moves rather very slowly than outer capillary

(B) Outer Capillary water: It is that part of capillary water which is not very tightly held in the soil and
there after moves readily from place to place. It is the most useful water for plants as it is very quick

Note: A soil which has a finer texture & granular structure indicating larger proportion of
micro pores than macro pores holds more amount of capillary water than a single grained
sandy soil having more percentage of macro pores. Soil rich organic matter content also
holds much greater quantity of capillary water.

c. Hygroscopic water (Water of Adhesion): This water forms very thin films around soil
particles and is not available to the plant.
The water is held so tightly by the soil that it cannot be taken up by roots.
Not held in the pores, but on the particle surface.

This means clay will contain much more of this type of water than sands because of
surface area differences.

Hygroscopic water is held very tightly, by forces of adhesion & is NOT AVAILABLE
to plant.

Gravity is always acting to pull water down through the soil profile. However, the force
of gravity is counteracted by forces of attraction between water molecules and soil
particles and by the attraction of water molecules to each other.
d) Chemically combined water: The amount of water present in the chemical
compounds, which are present in the particles of soil. This is not available to
the plants.

(e) Atmospheric humidity:

This is water vapor present in air, which can be absorbed by hanging roots of the
epiphytes due to presence of spongy velamen tissue and hygroscopic hairs.
3. Field Capacity, Wilting Point and Available Moisture:

4. Soil Moisture Tension or Soil Water Potential

When working with water we are interested in the force with
which water is held in soil.

bar is the term used to measure this force.

one bar equals one atmosphere of pressure
1 BAR= Pressure exerted by a water column of 1023 cm in
height = to 1 atmosphere = 760 mm of Hg

Atmospheric pressure, sometimes also called barometric pressure, is the
pressure exerted by the weight of air in the atmosphere of Earth (or that of
another planet). In most circumstances atmospheric pressure is closely
approximated by the hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of air above the
measurement point. Low-pressure areas have less atmospheric mass above their
location, whereas high-pressure areas have more atmospheric mass above their
location. Likewise, as elevation increases, there is less overlying atmospheric
mass, so that atmospheric pressure decreases with increasing elevation. On
average, a column of air one square centimetre [cm 2] (0.16 sq in) in cross-
section, measured from sea level to the top of the atmosphere, has a mass of
about 1.03 kilograms (2.3 lb) and weight of about 10.1 newtons (2.3 lbf). That
force (across one square centimeter) is a pressure of 10.1 N/cm 2 or 101,000
N/m2. A column 1 square inch (6.5 cm2) in cross-section would have a weight of
about 14.7 lb (6.7 kg) or about 65.4 N.

Surface tension is measured as the energy required to increase the

surface area of a liquid by a unit of area.

The surface tension of a liquid results from an imbalance of intermolecular

attractive forces, the cohesive forces between molecules:

A molecule in the bulk liquid experiences cohesive forces with other

molecules in all directions.
A molecule at the surface of a liquid experiences only net inward cohesive
Adhesive Forces: Forces of attraction between a liquid and a solid surface are
called adhesive forces. The difference in strength between cohesive forces and
adhesive forces determine the behavior of a liquid in contact with a solid surface.

Water does not wet waxed surfaces because the cohesive forces within the
drops are stronger than the adhesive forces between the drops and the wax.
Water wets glass and spreads out on it because the adhesive forces between
the liquid and the glass are stronger than the cohesive forces within the
Formation of a Meniscus

When liquid water is Hg does not wet glass - the cohesive

confined in a tube, its forces within the drops are stronger
surface (meniscus) than the adhesive forces between the
has a concave shape drops and glass. When liquid mercury
because water wets is confined in a tube, its surface
the surface and (meniscus) has a convex shape
creeps up the side. because the cohesive forces in liquid
mercury tend to draw it into a drop.

Capillary Action: Capillary action is the rise of a liquid that wets

a tube up the inside of a small diameter tube (i.e., a capillary)
immersed in the liquid.

The liquid creeps up the inside of the tube (as a result of

adhesive forces between the liquid and the inner walls of the
tube) until the adhesive and cohesive forces of the liquid are
balanced by the weight of the liquid.

The smaller the diameter of the tube, the higher the liquid
Soil Moisture Content in the field (Measurement Units)

Volumetric Soil Moisture Content refers to volume of water in a given

volume of soil measured in m3.m-3 (so how much of a cubic metre is
water out of the entire cubic metre of soil sample).
Alternately, the Volumetric Soil Moisture content can be referred to as
a % of volume (which is much easier).
Effect of Soil Type
Soil moisture content is very dependent on soil type.
A saturated coarse, sandy soil can hold far less water than a saturated heavy silty
clay because SAND has large particles which take up a lot of physical space.
Also, as sand particles do not bind water, a lot of water will drain out of the sand due
to gravity before field capacity is reached.
For these two reasons, sand has a much lower maximum and minimum water content
than a clay soil does.
What this means for you is that if you are monitoring a number of sites, the soil
moisture content values should not be compared with different types of soil.
Reading 20% moisture in one pocket and 20% in another does not mean that the
plants will be equally happy.
In sand, plants in 20% moisture will be very happy as sand readily releases its
moisture and the most sand can hold is around 30%.
However, in clay, a plant in 20% moisture will be extremely stressed, because clay
soils often have a maximum moisture reading of 50% or more, so 20% is very dry.
The clay particles also bind water to themselves and at low moisture contents like
20%, the clay will not give the water up for the roots to use.
Therefore each site needs to be considered individually!
Irrigation Scheduling: When you start out, you have to learn what the various
content values mean for your soil. What is the maximum reading you are getting
after heavy rain? As the soil dries out, compare the values you are getting to how
the soil looks when you dig around a bit and to how water stressed the plants are.
What is the minimum reading you are getting in very dry soils at the end of summer
when you've not irrigated for a while? All of this information will give you a good
start on working out at which soil moisture % you need to start irrigating and when
you should stop.

Which sensors measure Soil Moisture Content?

Measures soil moisture using Capacitance (Frequency Domain Reflectometry)
Soil Moisture Tension in the Field

Measurement Units: You will hear both kPa and negative 'something' kPa
bandied around in reference to Soil Moisture Tension. KiloPascals (kPa) are
units of pressure measurements. Suction is a negative pressure which is also
referred to as a tension.

Soil Moisture Tension is a measure of suction, and the correct way to refer to it
is minus or negative X kPa. However, it is quite common for the minus to be

It can be a little counter intuitive when thinking of wet soil vs dry soil with soil
moisture tension as smaller numbers that are closer to zero don't mean less
water. In fact these low numbers indicate more water, wetter soils. They show
how much suction is needed to extract water from the soil. So small numbers,
mean it's easy for the plant roots to get a drink. As a soil dries out the kPa
values becomes larger (more negative) & the hard it is to extract water. And
the hangover starts. (ha ha)

Effect of Soil Type: One great thing about measuring Soil Moisture Tension is
that soil type is largely irrelevant. -25kPa in clay is the same as
-5kPa in sand. Plants in these conditions in either of these soils are working
exactly the same to extra moisture from the soil.

Irrigation Scheduling: Permanent crops, such as tree crops and vines are
relatively forgiving to irrigation practices - they have extensive root zones,
which can access large volumes of stored water; and episodes of water stress
may damage the current year's crop or reduce the following season's fruit set
but rarely lead to loss of the plants.

The picture for seasonal crops is much more critical - a single episode of water
stress can lead to the immediate and complete loss of the plants. Whilst tree
crops may be happy extracting water to -60 kPa, most of the annuals can only
extract to levels of -20 or -30 kPa.

A bit of research on the internet or a chat to your agronomists can tell you
which kPa level you should be stressing your crop type to, before irrigation is
required. You can also do this by ground truthing, digging in the soil and
watching crop water stress responses.

Which sensors measure Soil Moisture Tension?

1 Gypsum blocks 2 Tensiometers

How do you measure soil moisture? There are two ways to measure soil moisture:

1 Soil Moisture Tension and 2 Soil Moisture Content

Soil moisture tension: Soil moisture tension tells you how easy it is to extract water from soil. When a
soil is saturated, there is plenty of water in the pore spaces and plenty of water coating the soil particles.
All this moisture makes it very easy for plant roots to get water and the soil moisture tension is low.

Imagine sucking on an ice slushy - when you first start slurping, it's easy to get a drink. The more you
drink the harder it is to get liquid from the ice and the harder you have to suck - it's the same for the plant
root, as water in the pores decreases, the suction or tension that the roots need to apply to get moisture

When soil tension reaches a certain threshold, the plant can no longer extract water from the soil even if
there is water present, it is stuck to the soil particles and they won't let it go. This water is unavailable to
the roots. At this point the plant will become stressed, begin to wilt and will eventually die if water is not

Soil moisture content: Soil moisture content tells you how much water is in the soil - usually as a
percentage - representing what percentage of total 'volume' of soil is moisture.

Imagine a cubic metre of topsoil. Pull out all the soil particles and compact them to remove all gaps
between them (suppose it squashes down to about 40% of the original volume). Do the same for the
organic matter - this would occupy about 5% of the volume. What is left? The rest of the volume is made
up of pore spaces which can be occupied by either air or water. So, in a totally saturated sample of this
soil, the water component would be 55% of the original cubic meter - the rest is the soil. Given that the
soil holds onto a layer of water that is inaccessible to plants, the value of "dry" soil when roots cannot get
any more moisture and plants become stressed, wilt and die will not be 0% but something slightly more.
5. Soil Moisture Tension and Soil Moisture Content
As water content decreases tension on the water becomes greater or
soil water potential becomes less.
Tension (suction) is measured in bars. 1 bar = 14.7 lbs. per sq. in. If water
tension = 1 bar, a plant root must exert a pull (suction) greater than
14.1 psi to get water from the soil.
Soil Water Potential Moisture Condition
0 bar saturation
-1/3 bar (4.1 psi) field capacity
-15 bar (220 psi) wilting point
-31 bar air dry

from 0 to -1/3 bar all gravitational water drains

from -1/3 to -31 bars capillary water
from -31 bar on we have hygroscopic water
Important Note: These terms are most important in irrigation. We irrigate
soils so that the bar pressure stays between -1/3 & -1 bar, in most cases.

Soil Moisture Retention Curves

6. Soil Moisture Constants

These are the terms most commonly used when working with soil water
and for making soil moisture calculations.
S Soil Moisture Details
N Constant
1 Saturation All soil pores are filled with water. This condition occurs right after
a rain.- this represents 0 bars.
2 Field Capacity Moisture content of the soil after gravity has removed all the water it
can. Usually occurs 1-3 days after a rain. - This would be -1/3 bar.
3 Wilting point soil moisture percentage at which plants cannot obtain enough
moisture to continue growing. - this is -15 bars.
4 Permanent Even after adding water to soil, the plants wont come back to life.
Wilting point
5 Hygroscopic When the soil is about air dry. Water is held at potential <-31 bar.
water This water is not available to plants.
6 Oven dry Soil that has been dried in oven at 105 0C for 12 hours. All soil
moisture has been removed. This point is not important for plant
growth but is important for calculations since soil moisture
percentage is always based on oven dry weight.
7 Plant available It is that held in the soil at a water potential between:
water -1/3 bar (FC) & -15 bar (WP).

6. Elements Essential for Plant Growth: ASSIGNMENT-2

7. Major Functions of Soil Water:

Soil water serves as a solvent and carrier of food nutrients for plant growth
Determines the Yield of crop than the deficiency of other food nutrients
Soil water acts as a nutrient itself
Soil water regulates soil temperature
Soil forming processes and weathering depend on water
Microorganisms require water for their metabolic activities
Soil water helps in chemical and biological activities of soil
It is a principal constituent of the growing plant
Water is essential for photosynthesis



Water requirement of crop is the quantity of water regardless of source,
needed for normal crop growth and yield in a period of time at a place and
may be supplied by precipitation or by irrigation or by both.

Water is needed mainly to meet the demands of-

o Evaporation (E) Transpiration (T) & Metabolic needs of plants

All together (above three) is known as consumptive use (CU).

Since water used in the metabolic activities of plant is negligible (<1% of

quantity of water passing through the plant), evaporation (E) and
transpiration (T), i.e. ET is directly considered as = Consumptive Use (CU).

In addition to ET, water requirement (WR) includes-

o Losses during the application of irrigation water to field (percolation,
seepage, and run off) and
o Water required for special operation such as land preparation,
transplanting, leaching etc.
WR= (CU + Application Losses + Water Needed for Special Operations)

Water requirement (WR) therefore talks of the DEMAND SIDE


SUPPLY would consist of contribution from irrigation, effective rainfall (ER)

and soil profile contribution including that from shallow water tables (S)

Thus, WR = IR + ER + S
IR: irrigation requirement.
Under field conditions, it is difficult to determine E & T.
They are estimated together as ET.

Crop Water Requirement
Rice 900-2500
Wheat 450-650
Sorghum 450-650
Maize 500-800
Sugarcane 1500-2500
Groundnut 500-700
Cotton 700-1300
Soybean 450-700
Tobacco 400-600
Tomato 600-800
Potato 500-700
Onion 350-550
Chilly 500
Sunflower 350-500
Castor 500
Bean 300-500
Cabbage 380-500
Pea 350-500
Banana 1200-2200
Citrus 900-1200
Pineapple 700-1000
Gingelly 350-400
Ragi 400-450
Grape 500-1200
3.1 Factors Affecting Water Requirement of Crops:

The crop water requirement varies from place to place, from crop to crop
and depends on agro-ecological variation and crop characters.

The features which mainly influence the crop water requirement are:

1) Crop factors

a) Variety b) Growth stages c) Duration

d) Plant population e) Crop growing season

2) Soil factors

a) Structure b) Texture c) Depth

d) Topography e) Soil chemical composition

3) Climatic factors

a) Temperature b) Sunshine hours c) Relative humidity

d) Wind velocity e) Rainfall

4) Agronomic management factors

a) Irrigation methods used b) Frequency of irrigation &

its efficiency
c) Tillage & other cultural operations
(weeding, mulching, intercropping etc)

Note: Based on all these factors, average crop water requirement for various
crops are worked out.

3.2 Definition of Important Irrigation Terms:

(a) Gross Defined as total area that can be irrigated by a system on the
Command Area perception that unlimited quantity of water is available
It is the total area that may theoretically be served by the
irrigation system.
But this may include inhibited areas, roads, ponds,
uncultivable areas etc, which would not be irrigated.
(b) Culturable The area which can be irrigated from a scheme and is fit for
Command Area cultivation.
It is the cultivable area in the Gross Command Area of an
irrigation system
(c) Unculturable The area where crops cannot be grown e.g. marshy land,
Area barren land, lakes, ponds, forest, habitation etc
(d) Intensity of It is defined as the percentage of the AREA proposed to
Irrigation be irrigated annually.
The areas irrigated during each crop season (Rabi, Kharif
etc) is expressed as a %age of the CCA which represents
the Intensity of Irrigation for the crop season.
By adding the intensities of irrigation for all crop
seasons the yearly intensity of irrigation is obtained.

(e) Crop It is defined as the ratio of the land irrigated during the two
Ratio main crop season RABI and KHARIF.
(f) Crop The sequence during a year or period of years in which
Rotation different crops are grown (or planned) in the same land.
(g) Crop The Indian cropping season is classified into two main
Seasons seasons-(i) Kharif and (ii) Rabi based on the monsoon.
The kharif cropping season is from July October during the
south-west monsoon and the Rabi cropping season is from
October-March (winter). The crops grown between March
and June are summer crops.
(h) Cropping The percentage of the total crop area during a crop year or
Intensity season to the CCA.
(i) Delta The total quantity of water required by the crop for its full
growth may be expressed in hectare-meter or simply as depth
to which water would stand on the irrigated area if the total
quantity supplied were to stand above the surface without
percolation or evaporation. This total depth of water is called
delta ().
(j) It is defined as the number of hectares of land irrigated for full growth of a
Duty given crop by supply of 1 m3/s of water continuously during the entire
BASE PERIOD of that crop. Simply we can say that, the area (in hectares)
of land can be irrigated for a crop period, B (in days) using one cubic
meter of water.
Factors Affecting Duty:
o Type of crop o Climate and season o Useful rainfall
o Type of soil o Efficiency of cultivation method

Importance of Duty:

It helps us in designing an efficient canal irrigation system.

Knowing the total available water at the head of a main canal & the
overall duty for all crops required to be irrigated in different seasons of
the year, the area which can be irrigated can be worked out.

Inversely, if we know the crop-wise areas to be irrigated & their

duties, we can work out the discharge for designing the channel.
Measures for improving duty of water

The duty of canal water can certainly be improved by effecting economy in

the use of water by resorting to the following precautions and practices:
Precautions in field preparation and sowing:
o Land to be used for cultivation should, as far as possible, be leveled
o The fields should be properly ploughed to the required depth
o Improved modern cultivation methods may preferably be adopted
o Porous soils should be treated before sowing to reduce seepage of water
o Manure should be added to increase water holding capacity of the soil

Precautions in handling irrigation supplies:

o Irrigation water source should be situated within the prescribed limits
o Canals carrying water should be lined to reduce seepage & evaporation
o Water courses may be lined to reduce on field requirement of water
o Water should be economically used by proper control on its distribution
o Free flooding of fields should be avoided and furrow irrigation method may
preferably be adopted, if surface irrigation is resorted to.
o Sub-surface & Drip irrigation may be preferred to surface irrigation.
(k) Base The time between the FIRST WATERING of a crop at the time of its
Period sowing to its LAST WATERING before harvesting.
(l) Crop The time period from the INSTANT OF ITS SOWING to the INSTANT
Period OF ITS HARVESTING is called the crop period.
(m) Kor The period during which kor watering is done is known as kor Period.
(n) Kor The depth of water applied for the kor watering is called Kor depth.
(o) Kor The first watering is done when the crop has grown to about 3 cm.
Watering This watering is known as Kor watering.
3.3 Consumptive Use (CU) of Water:


It is the quantity of water used by the vegetation growth of a given


It is the amount of water required by a crop for its vegetated growth

to evapotranspiration and building of plant tissues plus evaporation
from soils and intercepted precipitation.

It is expressed in terms of depth of water.

3.4 Factors Affecting CU: Consumptive use varies with-

o Temperature

o Humidity

o Wind speed

o Topography

o Sunlight hours

o Method of irrigation

o Moisture availability

3.5 Potential ET (PET), Reference ET (ETo) & Actual ET (ETc):

PET: It is the demand or maximum amount of water that would be evapo-

transpired if enough (unlimited) water were available (from precipitation
and soil moisture).

ET0: Sometimes incorrectly referred to as potential ET, is a representation of the

environmental demand for evapotranspiration and represents the
evapotranspiration rate of a short green crop (grass), completely shading the
ground, of uniform height and with adequate water status in the soil profile. It is
a reflection of the energy available to evaporate water, and of the wind available
to transport the water vapour from the ground up into the lower atmosphere.

Actual ET i.e. ETc = Reference ET i.e. ETo (when there is ample water)

3.6 Methods to Determine PET:

3.6.1 Penman-Monteith Equation: ASSIGNMENT-3

3.6.2 Thornthwaite's formula

This formula is based mainly on temperature with an adjustment being

made for the number of daylight hours. An estimate of the potential evapo-
transpiration, calculated on a monthly basis, is given by:
3.7 Depth of Irrigation:

3.8 Irrigation Interval and Frequency:

3.9 Irrigation Efficiency: Conveyance Efficiency, Distribution Efficiency,

Application Efficiency & Storage Efficiency
Estimating actual evapotranspiration from potential
The calculation of potential evaporation (PE) from readily available meteorological data is
simpler than the computation or measurement of actual ET (ETc) from a vegetated surface.
However, water loss from a catchment area does not always proceed at the potential rate,
since this is dependent on a continuous water supply. When the vegetation is unable to
abstract water from the soil, then the actual evaporation becomes less than potential. Thus
the relationship between ETc and PET depends upon the soil moisture content. Here is an
example of the relationship between PET and ETc, according to Bergstrm, 1992:
Surface Irrigation Methods Sub-Surface Irrigation Methods
Drip Irrigation Sprinkler Irrigation

4.1 Surface Irrigation Methods and their Advantages and Disadvantages:

Surface irrigation has evolved into an extensive array of configurations which can
be broadly classified as:
4.1.1 Basin Irrigation 4.1.3 Furrow Irrigation
4.1.2 Border Irrigation 4.1.4 Uncontrolled Flooding

4.1.1 Basin Irrigation

It is the most common form of surface irrigation, particularly in regions with
layouts of small fields.
If a field is level in all directions, is encompassed by a dyke to prevent runoff,
and provides an undirected flow of water onto the field, it is called a basin.

A basin is typically square in shape but exists in all sorts of irregular and
rectangular configurations.

It may be furrowed or corrugated, have raised beds for the benefit of certain
crops, but as long as the inflow is undirected and uncontrolled into these
field modifications, it remains a basin.
A. When to Use Basin Irrigation

A.1 Suitable crops A.2 Suitable land slopes A.3 Suitable soils

This chapter indicates which crops can be grown in basins, which land
slopes are acceptable and which soil types are most suitable. Chapter 7
discusses under which circumstances to choose basin irrigation.

A.1 Suitable crops

Basin irrigation is suitable for many field crops. Paddy rice grows best
when its roots are submerged in water and so basin irrigation is the best
method to use for this crop (Figure 7).

Figure 7 Basin irrigation; transplanting paddy rice

Other crops which are suited to basin irrigation include:

- pastures, e.g. alfalfa, clover;
- trees, e.g. citrus, banana;
- crops which are broadcast, such as cereals;
- to some extent row crops such as tobacco.

Basin irrigation is generally not suited to crops which cannot stand in wet or
waterlogged conditions for periods longer than 24 hours. These are usually root
and tuber crops such as potatoes, cassava, beet and carrots which require loose,
well-drained soils.
2.1.2 Suitable land slopes

The flatter the land surface, the easier it is to construct basins. On flat land only
minor levelling may be required to obtain level basins.

It is also possible to construct basins on sloping land, even when the slope is
quite steep. Level basins can be constructed like the steps of a staircase and these
are called terraces (Figure 8).

Figure 8 Terraces

2.1.3 Suitable soils

Which soils are suitable for basin irrigation depends on the crop grown. A
distinction has to be made between rice and non-rice or other crops.

Paddy rice is best grown on clayey soils which are almost impermeable
as percolation losses are low. Rice could also be grown on sandy soils
but percolation losses will be high unless a high water table can be
maintained. Such conditions sometimes occur in valley bottoms.

Although most other crops can be grown on clays, loamy soils are
preferred for basin irrigation so that waterlogging (permanent saturation of
the soil) can be avoided. Coarse sands are not recommended for basin
irrigation as, due to the high infiltration rate, percolation losses can be
high. (How to determine the infiltration rate of the soil is explained in detail
in Annex 2.) Also soils which form a hard crust when dry (capping) are not

2.2 Basin Layout

Basin layout not only refers to the shape and size of basins but also to the shape
and size of the bunds. What is the shape of the basin: square, rectangular or
irregular? What is the size of the basin: 10, 100, 1000 or 10 000 m 2? How high
should the bund be: 10, 50 or 100 cm? What is the shape of the bund? These
aspects are discussed in the following sections.

2.2.1 Shape and size of basins

The shape and size of basins are mainly determined by the land slope, the soil type,
the available stream size (the water flow to the basin), the required depth of the
irrigation application and farming practices.


The main limitation on the width of a basin is the land slope. If the land slope is
steep, the basin should be narrow, otherwise too much earth movement will be
needed to obtain level basins. Table 1 provides some guidance on the maximum
width of basins or terraces, depending on the land slope.
Three other factors which may affect basin width are:

- depth of fertile soil - method of basin construction - agricultural practices.

If the topsoil is shallow, there is a danger of exposing the infertile subsoil when the
terraces are excavated. This can be avoided by reducing the width of basins and
thus limiting the depth of excavation.

Maximum width (m)
Slope %
average range
0.2 45 35-55
0.3 37 30-45
0.4 32 25-40
0.5 28 20-35
0.6 25 20-30
0.8 22 15-30
1.0 20 15-25
1.2 17 10-20
1.5 13 10-20
2.0 10 5-15
3.0 7 5-10
4.0 5 3-8
Basins can be quite narrow if they are constructed by hand labour but will need to
be wider if machines are used so that the machines can easily be moved around.
If hand or animal powered tillage is used then basins can be much narrower than if
machines are used for cultivation. If machines are used then it is important to make
sure that basin widths are some multiple of the width of the machines for efficient


The size of basins depends not only on the slope but also on the soil type and the
available water flow to the basins. The relationship between soil type, stream size
and size of the basin is given in Table 2. Values are based on practical experience,
and have been adjusted in particular to suit small-scale irrigation conditions.

Stream size (l/sec) Sand Sandy Clay loam Clay
5 35 100 200 350
10 65 200 400 650
15 100 300 600 1000
30 200 600 1200 2000
60 400 1200 2400 4000
90 600 1800 3600 6000

Example of how to estimate Basin Sizes

Question: Estimate the dimensions of basins, when the soil type is a deep clay loam
and the land slope is 1%. As basin construction is mechanized, the
terraces should be as wide as possible. The available stream size is 25
Answer: From Table 1 the maximum basin or terrace width for a slope of 1% is 25
m (range 15-25 m).
From Table 2 the maximum basin size for a clay loam soil and an available
stream size of 25 l/sec is 1000 m2.
If the total basin area is 1000 m 2 and the width is 25 m, the maximum
basin length is 1000/25 = 40 m.
Note: This example shows how to estimate the maximum basin dimensions. This
basin can be made smaller than this if required and still be irrigated
efficiently with the available stream size.
The size of the basin is also influenced by the depth (in mm) of the irrigation
application. If the required irrigation depth is large, the basin can be large. Similarly,
if the required irrigation depth is small, then the basin should be small to obtain good
water distribution. This is further explained in Annex 3.
The size and shape of basins can often be limited by farming practice. Many farms
in developing countries are very small and cultivation is by hand. In these
circumstances basins are usually small as they are easy to level and efficient
irrigation can be attained with relatively small stream sizes.

On the large mechanized farms, basins are generally made as large as possible to
provide large uninterrupted areas for machine movements. Basin dimensions are
chosen to be some multiple of the width of the machines so as to use the equipment
as efficiently as possible. Other reasons to make basins as large as possible are
that less land is wasted in this way (less bunds) and large stream sizes and a
relatively large application depth can be used.

The shape of the basin can be square, rectangular or irregular. The shape is mainly
determined by the slope. On steep and irregular sloping lands, the basins may be
long and narrow. The long side of the basin is along the contour line. If the slope and
thus the contour line is irregular, the shape of the basin will also be irregular.

1. slope of the land is steep
2. soil is sandy
3. stream size to the basin is small
4. required depth of the irrigation application is small
5. field preparation is done by hand or animal traction.


1. slope of the land is gentle or flat
2. soil is clay
3. stream size to the basin is large
4. required depth of the irrigation application is large
5. field preparation is mechanized.

2.2.2 Shape and dimensions of bunds

Bunds are small earth embankments which contain irrigation water within basins.
They are sometimes called ridges, dykes or levees. The height of bunds is
determined by the irrigation depth and the freeboard. The freeboard is the height
above the irrigation depth to be sure that water will not overtop the bund. The width
of bunds should be such that leakage will not occur, and that they are stable.

Temporary bunds are normally 60-120 cm wide at the base and have a height of
1.5-30 cm above the original ground surface, including a freeboard of 10 cm (which
means an irrigation depth of 5-20 cm). Temporary bunds surround fields on which
annual crops are grown; these bunds are rebuilt each season.
Figure 9 Shape and dimensions of permanent bunds

Figure 9 Shape and dimensions of temporary bunds

Permanent bunds usually have a base width of 130-160 cm and a height of 60-90
cm when constructed. The settled height will be 40-50 cm. This settling (compaction
of the soil) will take several months.

Permanent bunds are mostly used in rice cultivation, where the same crop is planted
on the same fields year after year. The bunds are used as paths in the rice fields as
well. Temporary bunds may be used to subdivide the various fields further, for
example as indicated in Figure 15.

2.3 Basin Construction

The following steps are involved in the construction of basins: setting out; forming
the bunds; and smoothing the land within the basins.

Step 1: Setting Out

Before construction can begin the location of the basins and bunds must be set out
on the ground. This can be done using pegs, string lines or chalk powder to mark
the lines of the bunds.

On flat land basins may be square or rectangular in shape (Figure 10). Setting out is
relatively simple and involves only straight lines. On sloping or undulating land
basins may be irregular in shape and terracing required. Terraces are set out so that
the bunds are located along contour lines; the differences in elevation within each
basin should not be excessive so that the amount of earth movement required to
obtain a level land surface is small (see Table 1).
Figure 10 Setting out the markers

A terrace is set out by first locating a suitable contour line across the land slope
(Figure 11; see also Volume 2). This is the line along which the first bund is
constructed. A second line is then set out along a contour further up the slope to
mark the location of the next bund.

Figure 11 Marking a contour line

Step 2: Forming the bunds

Both temporary and permanent bunds can be formed by hand labour or by animal or
tractor powered equipment. When soil is gathered from an area close to the bund a
'borrow-furrow' is formed. This furrow can be smoothed out later or be used as a
farm channel or drain. When forming bunds for terraces, soil should only be taken
from the uphill side of the bund.

A useful piece of equipment for forming bunds is an A-frame (Figure 12). This
consists of two boards set on edge and cross-braced, with a wide opening at the
front and a narrow opening at the rear. The boards act as blades for cutting into the
soil and crowding it into a ridge or bund (Figure 13). A typical A-frame suitable for
drawing by animals has blades 20 cm deep and 2 m long spaced 1.5 m apart at the
front and 30 cm apart at the rear.
Figure 12 Wooden A-frame

Figure 13 Making the bunds

Before forming bunds with an A-frame it is useful to loosen the top soil to a depth of
10-15 cm so that the blades can easily collect sufficient soil. Whichever method is
used it is important that the bunds are properly compacted so that leakage cannot

Step 3: Smoothing the land

This can be the most difficult part of basin construction and involves very careful
levelling of the land within each basin.

On flat land this involves smoothing out the minor high and low spots so that the
differences in level are less than 3 cm. This can be done by hand or by a tractor-
drawn land plane depending on the size of the basin. However, 3 cm level
differences are almost impossible to judge by eye and only when applying water will
it become obvious where high and low spots still exist. Thus several attempts may
be required to correct the levelling.

Levelling rice basins can be much simpler. These are first cultivated and then filled
with water. As the water surface is level, it will be obvious where the high spots are.
These can be smoothed put and the water in the basin gradually lowered to reveal
other high areas. The smoothing is usually done by an animal or tractor drawn float.
This method of smoothing usually destroys the soil structure. This is not a problem
when growing rice, but it is not a recommended procedure for other crops.
On sloping land, where terraces are constructed, levelling is achieved by moving soil
from the upper part of the slope to the lower part (Figure 14). Care is needed when
filling in the borrow furrow to ensure the bund height is maintained so that
overtopping is avoided.

Figure 14 Construction terraces (Construction first bund)

Figure 14 Construction terraces (Levelling 1st field)

Figure 14 Construction terraces (Construction 2nd bund)

2.4 Irrigating Basins

2.4.1 Wetting patterns

There are two methods to supply irrigation water to basins: the direct method and
the cascade method.

The direct method

Irrigation water is led directly from the field channel into the basin through siphons,
spiles or bundbreaks (see also Annex 1). Figure 15 shows that "Basin a" is irrigated
first, then "Basin b" is irrigated and so on. This method can be used for most crop
types and is suitable for most soils.

Figure 15 Direct method of water supply

The cascade method

On sloping land, where terraces are used, the irrigation water is supplied to the
highest terrace, and then allowed to flow to a lower terrace and so on. In Figure 16
the water is supplied to the highest terrace (a.1) and is allowed to flow through
terrace a.2 until the lowest terrace (a.3) is filled. The intake of terrace a.1 is then
closed and the irrigation water is diverted to terrace b.1 until b.1, b.2 and b.3 are
filled, and so on.

Figure 16 Cascade method of water supply

This is a good method to use for paddy rice on clay soils where percolation and
seepage losses are low. However, for other crops on sandy or loamy soils,
percolation losses can be excessive while water is flowing through the upper
terraces to irrigate the lower ones. This problem can be overcome by using the
borrow-furrow as a small channel to take water to the lower terrace. The lower
terrace is irrigated first and when complete the bund is closed and water is diverted
into the next terrace. Thus the terrace nearest the supply channel is the last to be

When long cascades are used for growing rice it is common practice to allow water
to flow continuously into the terraces at low discharge rates. The water demand in
the cascade can easily be monitored by observing the drainage flow. If there is no
drainage then more water may be required at the top of the cascade. If there is a
drainage flow then it is possible to reduce the inflow.
2.4.1 Wetting patterns

For good crop growth it is very important that the right quantity of water is supplied
to the root zone (see also Volume 3: Irrigation Water Needs) and that the root zone
is wetted uniformly.

If crops receive too little water, they will suffer from drought stress, and yield may be
reduced. If they receive too much water, then water is lost through deep percolation
and, especially on clay soils, permanent pools may form, causing the plants to
drown. How much irrigation water should be supplied to the root zone - in other
words "the net irrigation depth" - has been discussed in Volume 3. How the irrigation
water can be evenly distributed in the root zone is explained below, and an example
of the evaluation of basin irrigation performance is given in Annex 4.

Ideal wetting pattern

To obtain a uniformly wetted root zone, the surface of the basin must be level and
the irrigation water must be applied quickly. Figure 17 shows an ideal wetting
pattern: the basin is level and the right quantity of water has been supplied with the
correct scream size. As can be seen from Figure 17, it is not possible to have the
wetting pattern and root zone coincide completely. The part of the basin near the
field channel is always in contact with the irrigation water longer than the opposite
side of the basin. Therefore percolation losses will occur near the field channel, if
sufficient water is supplied to the opposite side of the basin.

Figure 17 Ideal wetting pattern

Poor wetting patterns: Poor wetting patterns can be caused by:
- unfavourable natural conditions, e.g. a compacted subsoil layer, or different soil
types within one basin;

- poor layout, e.g. a poorly levelled surface;

- poor management, e.g. supplying incorrect stream size, applying too little or too
much water.

i. Unfavourable natural conditions

A compacted sub-soil layer can sometimes occur in a basin some 30-50 cm below
the soil surface. Infiltration through this layer may be very slow and so water tends
to accumulate above this layer: a "perched" water table is formed (Figure 18). This
may result in waterlogging.

Figure 18 A nearly impermeable layer above which

a perched water table is formed

This situation may be very helpful for growing rice but will be harmful for other crops.
The compacted layer can be removed by using deep ploughs or rippers which break
up the subsoil.

Different soil types within a basin can cause very uneven water distribution. This
problem can be solved by re-aligning basin boundaries so that each basin contains
only one soil type.

ii. Poor layout

Figure 19 shows what happens to the wetting pattern if the soil surface is not level.
Some parts of the root zone receive too little water and in the lower parts water may
pond or be lost through deep percolation. Plants in the drier parts receive too little
water and wilt. Plants may also suffer in the wet parts; plant nutrients are carried
away from the rootzone to the subsoil and, especially on clay soils, the plants may
drown. These faults can easily be corrected by careful land levelling.
Figure 19 Wetting pattern of a poorly levelled basin

iii. Poor management

Figure 20 shows what happens if the basin is irrigated too slowly, by using a stream
size which is too small. The part of the basin which receives irrigation water first
(near the supply channel) and thus the longest, receives too much water.
Percolation losses occur, nutrients are washed away and the plants may drown. The
other end of the basin remains too dry. The plants there do not receive enough
water and wilt.

Figure 20 Wetting pattern when the flow rate is insufficient

The solution to the problem is to:

- increase the stream size so that the basin will be flooded more rapidly, or

- subdivide the basin into smaller basins; smaller basins need a smaller stream size
than larger basins.

Figure 21 shows what happens If insufficient water is applied to fill the root zone.
This is called "under-irrigation" and is caused by under-estimating the time needed
to fill the root zone.
Figure 21 Under-irrigation

There are no percolation losses during under-irrigation. Although water may be used
efficiently by this approach, frequent irrigation will be necessary to meet crop water
needs. However, continual under-irrigation will eventually restrict root development
and the crop may suffer when there are delays in irrigating, e.g. when water is in
short supply or the supply system breaks down.

Figure 22 shows what happens if too much water is supplied to a basin. This is
called "over-irrigation". The percolation losses are high, the plant nutrients are
washed away and, on clay soils, the plants may even drown. The obvious solution is
to apply less water.

Figure 22 Over-irrigation
2.5 Maintenance of Basins

Bunds are susceptible to erosion which may be caused by, for example, rainfall,
flooding or the passing of people when used as footpaths. Rats may dig holes in the
sides of the bunds. It is therefore important to check the bunds regularly, notice
defects and repair them instantly, before greater damage is done. Before each
growing season, the basins should be checked to see that they remain level. During
pre-irrigation it can easily be seen where higher and lower spots are; there should
be smoothed out. Also, the field channels should be kept free from weeds and silt
4.1.2 Border Irrigation
Border irrigation can be viewed as an extension of basin irrigation to sloping,
long rectangular or contoured field shapes, with free draining conditions at
the lower end as shown below.

In a typical border configuration a field is divided into sloping borders.

Water is applied to individual borders from small hand-dug checks from the
field head ditch. When the water is shut off, it recedes from the upper end to
the lower end.
Sloping borders are suitable for nearly any crop except those that require
prolonged ponding.

Soils can be efficiently irrigated which have moderately low to moderately

high intake rates
Borders are usually long, uniformly graded strips of land, separated by earth bunds. In Contrast to basin
irrigation these bunds are not to contain the water for ponding but to guide it as it flows down the field
(Figures 47 and 48).
Figure 47 Border irrigation

Figure 48 Border irrigation, field not properly levelled

4.1 When to Use Border Irrigation

Border irrigation is generally best suited to the larger mechanized farms as it is

designed to produce long uninterrupted field lengths for ease of machine operations.
Borders can be up to 800 m or more in length and 3-30 m wide depending on a
variety of factors. It is less suited to small-scale farms involving hand labour or
animal-powered cultivation methods.

Suitable slopes: Border slopes should be uniform, with a minimum slope of 0.05%
to provide adequate drainage and a maximum slope of 2% to limit problems of soil

Suitable soils: Deep homogenous loam or clay soils with medium infiltration rates
are preferred. Heavy, clay soils can be difficult to irrigate with border irrigation
because of the time needed to infiltrate sufficient water into the soil. Basin irrigation
is preferable in such circumstances.

Suitable crops: Close growing crops such as pasture or alfalfa are preferred.
4.2 Border Layout

The dimensions and shape of borders are influenced in much the same way as
basins and furrows by the soil type, stream size, slope, irrigation depth and other
factors such as farming practices and field or farm size.

Many of the comments made about basins and furrows are generally applicable to
borders also and so do not require repetition here. Table 4 provides a guideline to
determine maximum border dimensions. It must, however, be stressed that this table
is for general guidance only as the values are based on field experience and not on
any scientific relationships.


Border Slope Unit flow per metre Border Width Border Length
Soil type
(%) width (l/sec) (m) (m)

SAND 0.2-0.4 10-15 12-30 60-90

Infiltration rate >25 mm/h 0.4-0.6 8-10 9-12 60-90

0.6-1.0 5-8 6-9 75

LOAM 0.2-0.4 5-7 12-30 90-250

Infiltration rate of 10-25 mm/h 0.4-0.6 4-6 6-12 90-180

0.6-1.0 2-4 6 90

CLAY 0.2-0.4 3-4 12-30 180-300

Infiltration rate < 10 mm/h 0.4-0.6 2-3 6-12 90-180

0.6-1.0 1-2 6 90
Note: The flow is given per metre width of the border. Thus the total flow into a border is equal to the unit
flow multiplied by border width (in metres).

4.3 Irrigating Borders: Borders are irrigated by diverting a stream of water from the
channel to the upper end of the border. The water flows down the slope. When the
desired amount of water has been delivered to the border, the stream is turned off.
This may occur before the water has reached the end of the border. There are no
specific rules controlling this decision. However, if the flow is stopped too soon there
may not be enough water in the border to complete the irrigation at the far end. If it
is left running for too long, then water may run off the end of the border and be lost
in the drainage system. As a guideline, the inflow to the border can be stopped as
- On clay soils, the inflow is stopped when the irrigation water covers 60% of the
border. If, for example, the border is 100 m long a stick is placed 60 m from the farm
channel. When the water front reaches the stick, the inflow is stopped.

- On loamy soils it is stopped when 70 to 80% of the border is covered with water.

- On sandy soils the irrigation water must cover the entire border before the flow is

However, these are only guidelines. Realistic rules can only be established locally
when testing the system.

4.3.1 Wetting patterns

It is important to ensure that adequate irrigation water is supplied to the borders so

that it fills the root zone uniformly. However, there are many common problems
which result in poor water distribution. These include:

- poor land grading; - wrong stream size; - stopping inflow at the wrong time.

i. Poor land grading

If the land is not graded properly and there is a cross-slope, the irrigation water will
not spread evenly over the field. It will flow down the slope always seeking the
lowest side of the border (Figure 49). This can be corrected by regrading the border
to eliminate the cross-slope or by constructing guide bunds in the border to prevent
the cross flow of water.
Figure 49 Effect of a cross-slope on the water movement in a border

ii. Wrong stream size

A stream size which is too small will result in deep percolation losses near the field
channel (Figure 50), especially on sandy soils.

Figure 50. Stream size too small

If the stream size is too large the water will flow too quickly down the border and the
point where the flow should be stopped is reached before sufficient water has been
applied to fill the root zone (Figure 51). In this situation the flow will need to be left
running until the root zone has been adequately filled and this results in
considerable losses from surface runoff. Large stream sizes may also cause soil
Figure 51 Stream size too large

iii. Inflow stopped at the wrong time

If the inflow is stopped too soon, the water may not even reach the end of the
border. In contrast, if the flow is left running too long, water will run off the border at
the downstream end and be lost in the drainage system.

4.4 Maintenance of Borders

Maintenance of borders consists of keeping the border free from weeds and
uniformly sloping. Whatever damage occurs to the bunds must be repaired and the
field channel and drains are to be weeded regularly. By checking frequently and
carrying out immediate repairs where necessary, further damage is prevented.

Figure 52 Irrigating a border

4.1.3 Furrow Irrigation

Furrows are small, parallel channels, made to carry water in order to

irrigate the crop.

The crop is grown on the ridges between the furrows (Fig 23 & 24).

Figure 24 Top view and cross-section of

Figure 23 Furrow irrigation furrows and ridges

Avoids flooding the entire field surface by channeling the flow along the
primary direction of the field using 'furrows,' 'creases,' or 'corrugations'.
Water infiltrates through the wetted perimeter and spreads vertically and
horizontally to refill the soil reservoir.
Furrows are often employed in basins and borders to reduce the effects of
topographical variation and crusting.

Distinctive feature of furrow irrigation is that flow into each furrow is set &
controlled independently as opposed to furrowed borders and basins where
the flow is set and controlled on a border by border or basin by basin basis.

Furrows provide better on-farm water management flexibility under many

surface irrigation conditions.

(Graded Furrow Irrigation)

(Contour Furrow Irrigation)
Disadvantages with Furrow Irrigation:
1) Accumulation of salinity between furrows;
(2) Increased level of tailwater losses;
(3) Difficulty of moving farm equipment across the furrows;
(4) Added expense and time to make extra tillage practice (furrow construction);
(5) Increase in the erosive potential of the flow;
(6) Higher commitment of labour to operate efficiently; and
(7) Generally furrow systems are more difficult to automate, particularly with
regard to regulating an equal discharge in each furrow.
3.1 When to Use Furrow Irrigation

3.1.1 Suitable crops 3.1.2 Suitable slopes 3.1.3 Suitable soils

Furrow irrigation is suitable for a wide range of soil types, crops and land slopes, as indicated below. Under
which circumstances to choose furrow irrigation is further discussed in Chapter 7.

3.1.1 Suitable crops

Furrow irrigation is suitable for many crops, especially row crops. Crops that would be damaged if water
covered their stem or crown should be irrigated by furrows.

Furrow irrigation is also suited to the growing of tree crops. In the early stages of tree planting, one furrow
alongside the tree row may be sufficient but as the trees develop then two or more furrows can be
constructed to provide sufficient water. Sometimes a special zig-zag system is used to improve the spread of
water (Figure 25).

Corrugation irrigation, frequently mentioned in literature, is a special type of furrow irrigation, used for
broadcast crops. Corrugations are small hills pressed into the soil surface. The application of this method is
limited and is not included in this manual.

In summary, the following crops can be Irrigated by furrow irrigation:

- row crops such as maize, sunflower, sugarcane, soybean;

- crops that would be damaged by inundation, such as tomatoes, vegetables, potatoes, beans;
- fruit trees such as citrus, grape;
- broadcast crops (corrugation method) such as wheat.
Figure 25 Zig-zag furrows - A: Zig-zag furrows Figure 25 Zig-zag furrows - B: Another zig-zag
used for irrigating trees on land with a moderate pattern for furrow irrigation on fairly flat slopes
slope (0.5-1.5%) (under 0.5%)

3.1.2 Suitable slopes

Uniform flat or gentle slopes are preferred for furrow irrigation. These should not exceed 0.5%. Usually a
gentle furrow slope is provided up to 0.05% to assist drainage following irrigation or excessive rainfall with
high intensity.

On undulating land furrows should follow the land contours (see Figure 26). However, this can be a difficult
operation requiring very careful setting out of the contours before cutting the furrows (see section 3.3
Furrow Construction).

Figure 26 Contour furrows

3.1.3 Suitable soils

Furrows can be used on most soil types. However, as with all surface irrigation methods, very coarse sands
are not recommended as percolation losses can be high. Soils that crust easily are especially suited to furrow
irrigation because the water does not flow over the ridge, and so the soil in which the plants grow remains

3.2 Furrow Layout

3.2.1 Furrow length 3.2.2 Furrow shape 3.2.3 Furrow spacing

This section deals with the shape, length and spacing of furrows. Generally, the shape, length and spacing
are determined by the natural circumstances, i.e. slope, soil type and available stream size. However, other
factors may influence the design of a furrow system, such as the irrigation depth, farming practice and the
field length.

3.2.1 Furrow length

Furrows must be on consonance with the slope, the soil type, the stream size, the irrigation depth, the
cultivation practice and the field length. The impact of these factors on the furrow length is discussed below.


Although furrows can be longer when the land slope is steeper, the maximum recommended furrow slope is
0.5% to avoid soil erosion. Furrows can also be level and are thus very similar to long narrow basins.
However a minimum grade of 0.05% is recommended so that effective drainage can occur following
irrigation or excessive rainfall. If the land slope is steeper than 0.5% then furrows can be set at an angle to
the main slope or even along the contour to keep furrow slopes within the recommended limits. Furrows can
be set in this way when the main land slope does not exceed 3%. Beyond this there is a major risk of soil
erosion following a breach in the furrow system. On steep land, terraces can also be constructed (see Basin
Irrigation) and furrows cultivated along the terraces.

Soil type

In sandy soils water infiltrates rapidly. Furrows should be short (less than 110 a), so that water will reach the
downstream end without excessive percolation losses.

In clay soils, the infiltration rate is much lower than in sandy soils. Furrows can be much longer on clayey
than on sandy soils. The determination of the infiltration rate is explained in Annex 2.

Stream size

Normally stream sizes up to 0.5 l/sec will provide an adequate irrigation provided the furrows are not too
long. When larger stream sizes are available, water will move rapidly down the furrows and so generally
furrows can be longer. The maximum stream size that will not cause erosion will obviously depend on the
furrow slope; in any case, it is advised not to use stream sizes larger than 3.0 l/sec (see Table 3).

Irrigation depth

Applying larger irrigation depths usually means that furrows can be longer as there is more time available
for water to flow down the furrows and infiltrate.
Cultivation practice

When the farming is mechanized, furrows should be made as long as possible to facilitate the work. Short
furrows require a lot of attention as the flow must be changed frequently from one furrow to the next.
However, short furrows can usually be irrigated more efficiently than long ones as it is much easier to keep
the percolation losses low.

Field length

It may be more practical to make the furrow length equal to the length of the field, instead of the ideal
length, when this would result In a small piece of land left over (Figure 27). Equally the length of field may
be much less than the maximum furrow length. This is not usually a problem and furrow lengths are made to
fit the field boundaries.

Figure 27 Field length and furrow length

Table 3 gives some practical values of maximum furrow lengths under small-scale irrigation conditions. The
values shown in Table 3 are lower than those generally given in irrigation handbooks. These higher values
are appropriate under larger scale, fully mechanized conditions.

Clay Loam Sand

Furrow slope (%) Maximum stream size (l/s) per furrow Net irrigation depth (mm)

50 75 50 75 50 75

0.0 3.0 100 150 60 90 30 45

0.1 3.0 120 170 90 125 45 60

0.2 2.5 130 180 110 150 60 95

0.3 2.0 150 200 130 170 75 110

0.5 1.2 150 200 130 170 75 110


This table only provides approximate Information relating furrow slope, soil type, stream size and irrigation depth to
furrow lengths. This should only be used as a guide as the data are based primarily on field experience and not on
any scientific relationships. Maximum values of furrow length are given for reasonably efficient irrigation. However,
furrow lengths can be even shorter than those given in the table and in general this will help to improve irrigation
efficiency. Only by Installing a furrow system, following the guidelines, and then evaluating its performance can an
appropriate system be developed for a given locality.

3.2.2 Furrow shape

The shape of furrows is influenced by the soil type and the stream size.

Soil type

In sandy soils, water moves faster vertically than sideways (= lateral). Narrow, deep V-shaped furrows are
desirable to reduce the soil area through which water percolates (Figure 28). However, sandy soils are less
stable, and tend to collapse, which may reduce the irrigation efficiency.

In clay soils, there is much more lateral movement of water and the infiltration rate is much less than for
sandy soils. Thus a wide, shallow furrow is desirable to obtain a large wetted area (Figure 29) to encourage

Figure 28 A deep, narrow furrow on a sandy soil

Figure 29 A wide, shallow furrow on a clay soil

Stream size

In general, the larger the stream size the larger the furrow must be to contain the flow.

3.2.3 Furrow spacing

The spacing of furrows is influenced by the soil type and the cultivation practice.

Soil type

As a rule, for sandy soils the spacing should be between 30 and 60 cm, i.e. 30 cm for coarse sand and 60 cm
for fine sand.

On clay soils, the spacing between two adjacent furrows should be 75-150 cm. On clay soils, double-ridged
furrows - sometimes called beds - can also be used. Their advantage is that more plant rows are possible on
each ridge, facilitating manual weeding. The ridge can be slightly rounded at the top to drain off water that
would otherwise tend to pond on the ridge surface during heavy rainfall (Figure 30).

Figure 30 A double-ridged furrow

Cultivation practice

In mechanized farming a compromise is required between the machinery available to cut furrows and the
ideal spacings for crops. Mechanical equipment will result in less work if a standard width between the
furrows is maintained, even when the crops grown normally require a different planting distance. This way
the spacing of the tool attachment does not need to be changed when the equipment is moved from one crop
to another. However, care is needed to ensure that the standard spacing provide adequate lateral wetting on
all soil types.

3.3 Furrow Construction

The most common way to construct furrows is with a ridger. Figure 31 shows animal- and hand-drawn

Figure 31 Ridger plough: (a) wooden body, animal-drawn

Figure 31 Ridger plough: (b) iron type, animal-drawn

Figure 31 Ridger plough: (c) hand-drawn version


The following steps are taken to construct furrows: setting out; forming one (or more) ridge(s); forming one
(or more) parallel ridge(s).

Step 1

A straight line is set out in the field along the proposed line of furrows. This can be done by setting up
ranging poles or marking a line on the ground with chalk powder or small mounds of earth. An experienced
ploughman should be able to plough along the line by aligning the poles or earth mounds by eye (Figure 32).
Figure 32 Markers are put along a straight line

Step 2

The ridger is moved along the line. The resulting furrow should be straight. If not, the area should be
ploughed again and the procedure repeated.

Step 3

About every five (5) metres, a new straight line should be set out.

If a ridger-drawbar connected with a tractor is used, four furrows can be drawn simultaneously. On the track
back the left ridger is put in the last furrow track to make sure the new furrows arc parallel to the previous
ones (Figure 33). Also here it should be checked that straight lines are followed: for every track a centre line
is set out (see Figure 33).

Attention: It should always be kept in mind that a new straight line has to be set out before a new furrow
track is made.

Figure 33 A ridger-drawbar behind a tractor makes four ridges simultaneously


Special care is needed to construct furrows along the contour on sloping or undulating land. The following
steps are taken to construct furrows along the contour:

Step 1

A guide furrow must first be set out along the upper edge of the field close to the farm channel using a
levelling device to locate the contour line. Further guide furrows are set out every 5 metres on undulating
ground and every 10 metres on uniformly sloping land (Figure 34).

Figure 34 Making guide furrows

Step 2

Working from each guide furrow, furrows are made to halfway along the next guide furrow (Figure 35).

Figure 35 Making furrows

3.4 Irrigating Furrows

3.4.1 Wetting patterns

Water is supplied to each furrow from the field canal, using siphons or spiles (see Annex 1). Sometimes,
instead of the field canal with siphons or spiles, a gated pipe is used (Figure 36).
Figure 36 Gated pipe

Depending on the available flow in the farm channel, several furrows can be irrigated at the same time.

When there is a water shortage, it is possible to limit the amount of irrigation water applied by using
'alternate furrow irrigation'. This involves irrigating alternate furrows rather than every furrow. Figure 37 is
an example of this procedure. Instead of irrigating every furrow after 10 days, furrows 1, 3, 5, etc. are
irrigated after 5 days and furrows 2, 4 and 6, etc. are irrigated after 10 days. Thus the crop receives some
water every 5 days instead of a large amount every 10 days. Small amounts applied frequently in this way
are usually better for the crop than large amounts applied after longer intervals of time.

Figure 37 Alternate furrow irrigation

Runoff at the ends of furrows can be a problem on sloping land. This can be as much as 30 percent of the
inflow, even under good conditions. Therefore a shallow drain should always be made at the end of the
field, to remove excess water. When no drain is made, plants may be damaged by waterlogging. Light
vegetation allowed to grown in the drain can prevent erosion. Excessive runoff can be prevented by reducing
the inflow once the irrigation water has reached the end of the furrows. This is called cut-back irrigation. It
may also be possible to reuse runoff water further down the farm.

3.4.1 Wetting patterns

In order to obtain a uniformly wetted rootzone, furrows should be properly spaced, have a uniform slope and
the irrigation water should be applied rapidly.

As the root zone in the ridge must be wetted from the furrows, the downward movement of water in the soil
is less important than the lateral (or sideways) water movement. Both lateral and downward movement of
water depends on soil type as can be seen in Figure 38.

Figure 38 Different wetting Figure 38 Different wetting Fig. Wetting patterns in

patterns in furrows, depending patterns in furrows, depending furrows, depending on the soil
on the soil type (A - SAND) on the soil type (B - LOAM) type (C - CLAY)

Ideal wetting pattern

In an ideal situation adjacent wetting patterns overlap each other, and there is an upward movement of water
(capillary rise) that wets the entire ridge (see Figure 39), thus supplying the root zone with water.
Figure 39 Ideal wetting pattern

To obtain a uniform water distribution along the furrow length, it is very important to have a uniform slope
and a large enough stream size so that water advances rapidly down the furrow. In this way large percolation
losses at the head of the furrow can be avoided. The quarter time rule is used to determine the time required
for water to travel from the farm channel to the end of the furrow, in order to minimize percolation losses.
The quarter time rule is further discussed in Annex 3.

Poor wetting patterns

Poor wetting patterns can be caused by:

- unfavourable natural conditions, e.g. a compacted layer, different soil types, uneven slope;

- poor layout, e.g. a furrow spacing too wide;

- poor management: supplying a stream size that is too large or too small, stopping the Inflow too soon.

i. Unfavourable natural conditions

Compacted soil layers or different soil types have the same effect on furrow irrigation as they have on basin
irrigation - see section 2.4.1. The solution to the problem is also similar.

An uneven slope can result in uneven wetting along the furrow. Water flows fast down the steep slopes and
slowly down the flatter slopes. This affects the time available for infiltration and results in poor water
distribution. The problem can be overcome by regrading the land to a uniform slope.

ii. Poor layout

If the furrow spacing is too wide (Figure 40) then the root zone will not be adequately wetted. The spacing
of furrows needs careful selection to ensure adequate wetting of the entire root zone (Figure 40).

Figure 40 The spacing between two adjacent furrows is too wide

iii. Poor management

A stream size that is too small (Figure 41) will result in inadequate wetting of the ridges. Even if the plants
are located at the sides of the ridge, not enough water will be available. A small stream size will also result
in poor water distribution along the length of the furrow. The advance will be slow and too much water will
be lost through deep percolation at the head of the furrow.
Figure 41 Stream size is too small to wet the ridge

If the stream size is too large on flat slopes, overtopping of the ridge may occur (Figure 42). On steeper
slopes with too large a stream size, erosion of the bed and sides of the furrow may take place (Figure 42).

Figure 42 Stream size too large causing overtopping or erosion

A common management fault is to stop the inflow too soon. This is usually done to reduce runoff, but it
results in a poor water distribution and the plants in particular at the end of the furrow do not get enough
water. If the Inflow of irrigation water is not stopped soon enough, the runoff is excessive and plants at the
end of the furrow may drown when an adequate drainage system to evacuate excess water is not provided
(see also Annex 3).

3.5 Planting Techniques

The location of plants In a furrow system is not fixed but depends on the natural circumstances. A few
examples will be mentioned.

- In areas with heavy rainfall, the plants should stand on top of the ridge in order to prevent damage as a result of
waterlogging (Figure 43).

- If water is scarce, the plants may he put in the furrow itself, to benefit more from the limited water (Figure
- As salts tend to accumulate in the highest point, a crop on saline soils should be planted away from the top
of the ridge. Usually it is planted in two rows at the sides (Figure 45). However, it is important to make sure
there is no danger of waterlogging.

- For winter and early spring crops in colder areas, the seeds may be planted on the sunny side of the ridge
(Figure 46). In hotter areas, seeds may be planted on the shady side of the ridge, to protect them from the

Figure 43 Protection against waterlogging

Figure 44 Protection against water scarcity

Figure 45 Protection against accumulation of salt

Figure 46 Winter and early spring crops: seeds planted on the sunny side of the ridge

3.6 Maintenance of Furrows

After construction the furrow system should be maintained regularly; during irrigation it should be checked
if water reaches the downstream end of all furrows. There should be no dry spots or places where water
stays ponding. Overtopping of ridges should not occur. The field channels and drains should be kept free
from weeds.

4.1.4 Uncontrolled Flooding

There are many cases where croplands are irrigated without regard to
efficiency or uniformity.

These are generally situations where the value of the crop is very small or
the field is used for grazing or recreation purposes.

Small land holdings are generally not subject to the array of surface
irrigation practices of the large commercial farming systems.

Also in this category are the surface irrigation systems like check-basins
which irrigate individual trees in an orchard, for example.
4.3 Drip Irrigation, Its Advantages & Disadvantages:

Drip irrigation is sometimes called trickle, localized or micro irrigation

It involves dripping water onto the soil at very low rates (2-20
litres/hour) from a system of small diameter plastic pipes fitted with
outlets called emitters or drippers.
Water is applied close to plants so that only part of the soil in which the
roots grow is wetted (Figure 60), unlike surface and sprinkler irrigation,
which involves wetting the whole soil profile.

With drip irrigation water, applications are more frequent (usually every
1-3 days) than with other methods and this provides a very favourable
high moisture level in the soil in which plants can flourish.

It is one of the methods of irrigation that saves water and fertilizer.

In drip irrigation method, water drips slowly to the roots of the plants

Water is applied either onto the soil surface or directly into the root
zone through a network of valves, pipes, tubing and emitters.
The process is completed in narrow tubes so that water is applied
directly to the root of the plant.

Figure 60: Only the part of the soil in which the roots grow is wetted

Advantages of Drip Irrigation

1. Water is used at maximum level. 2. Weed growth in less.

3. As water is applied locally, leaching is less 4. Operational cost is low.

& thus fertilizer/nutrient loss is minimized.
5. Waste of fertilizers is less. 6. Soil erosion does not take place.

7. Yield of crops are maximum. 8. Soil infiltration capacity is increased.

9. Fertilizer can be used with high efficiency 10. Fertilizers & groundwater is not mixed

11.Seed germination is improved. 12.We can use recycled water safely.

13.It is not necessary to level the fields. 14.We can irrigate in irregular shaped
15.Energy cost is reduced as it is operated in
lower pressure than other irrigation

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation

Expense especially initial cost is high. Problems in moisture


The lifetime of the tubes used in drip irrigation can Salinity problem.
be shortened by the sun causing wastage.

May cause clogging if water is not filtered correctly. Germination problem.

High skills are required.

6.1 When to Use Drip Irrigation

Suitable crops Suitable slopes Suitable soils Suitable irrigation water

6.1.1 Suitable crops

Drip irrigation is most suitable for row crops (vegetables, soft fruit), tree and vine
crops where one or more emitters can be provided for each plant. Generally only
high value crops are considered because of the high capital costs of a drip system.

6.1.2 Suitable slopes

Drip irrigation is adaptable to any farmable slope. Normally the crop would be
planted along contour lines and the water supply pipes (laterals) would be laid along
the contour also. This is done to minimize changes in emitter discharge as a result
of land elevation changes.

6.1.3 Suitable soils

Drip irrigation is suitable for most soils. On clay soils water must be applied slowly to
avoid surface water ponding and runoff. On sandy soils higher emitter discharge
rates will be needed to ensure adequate lateral wetting of the soil.

6.1.4 Suitable irrigation water

One of the main problems with drip irrigation is blockage of the emitters. All
emitters have very small waterways ranging from 0.2-2.0 mm in diameter and these
can become blocked if the water is not clean. Thus it is essential for irrigation water
to be free of sediments. If this is not so then filtration of the irrigation water will be

Blockage may also occur if the water contains algae, fertilizer deposits and
dissolved chemicals which precipitate such as calcium and iron. Filtration may
remove some of the materials but the problem may be complex to solve and
requires an experienced engineer or consultation with the equipment dealer.

Drip irrigation is particularly suitable for water of poor quality (saline water). Dripping
water to individual plants also means that the method can be very efficient in water
use. For this reason it is most suitable when water is scarce.

6.2 Drip System Layout

A typical drip irrigation system is shown in Figure 61 and consists of the following

Pump unit Control head Main and submain lines

Laterals Emitters or drippers.

ure 61 An example of a drip irrigation system layout
The pump unit takes water from the source and provides the right
pressure for delivery into the pipe system.

The control head consists of valves to control the discharge and

pressure In the entire system. It may also have filters to clear the water.
Common types of filter include screen filters and graded sand filters which
remove fine material suspended in the water. Some control head units
contain a fertilizer or nutrient tank. These slowly add a measured dose of
fertilizer into the water during irrigation. This is one of the major
advantages of drip irrigation over other methods.

Mainlines, submains and laterals supply water from the control head
into the fields. They are usually made from PVC or polyethylene hose and
should be buried below ground because they easily degrade when
exposed to direct solar radiation. Lateral pipes are usually 13-32 mm

Emitters or drippers are devices used to control the discharge of water

from the lateral to the plants. They are usually spaced more than 1 m
apart with one or more emitters used for a single plant such as a tree. For
row crops more closely spaced emitters may be used to wet a strip of soil.
Many different emitter designs have been produced in recent years. The
basis of design is to produce an emitter which will provide a specified
constant discharge which does not vary much with pressure changes,
and does not block easily. Various types of emitters are shown in Figure
61 and Figure 62. Figure 63 gives an example of sub-lateral loops.
Figure 62 Types of emitters Figure 63 Sub-lateral loops

6.3 Operating Drip Systems

A drip system is usually permanent. When remaining in place during

more than one season, a system is considered permanent.
Thus it can easily be automated. This is very useful when labour is
scarce or expensive to hire.
However, automation requires specialist skills and so this approach is
unsuitable if such skills are not available.
Water can be applied frequently (every day if required) with drip
irrigation and this provides very favourable conditions for crop growth.
However, if crops are used to being watered each day they may only
develop shallow roots and If the system breaks down, the crop may
begin to suffer very quickly.
6.3.1 Wetting patterns
Unlike surface & sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation only wets part of the root zone.
This may be as low as 30% of the volume of soil wetted by the other methods.
The wetting patterns depend on discharge and soil type.
Figure 64 shows the effect of changes in discharge on two different soil types,
namely sand and clay.

Figure 64 Wetting patterns for sand and clay Figure 64 Wetting patterns for sand and clay soils
soils with high and low discharge rates (SAND) with high and low discharge rates (CLAY)

Although only part of the root zone is wetted it is still important to meet
the full water needs of the crop.
It is sometimes thought that drip irrigation saves water by reducing the
amount used by the crop. This is not true. Crop water use is not
changed by the method of applying water. Crops just require the right
amount for good growth.
The water savings that can be made using drip irrigation are-
o the reductions in deep percolation
o in surface runoff and
o in evaporation from the soil.
These savings, it must be remembered, depend as much on the user of
the equipment as on the equipment itself.
Drip irrigation is not a substitute for other proven methods of irrigation. It
is just another way of applying water.
It is best suited to areas where water quality is marginal, land is steeply
sloping or undulating and of poor quality, where water or labour are
expensive, or where high value crops require frequent water
4.4 Sprinkler Irrigation and its Advantages and Disadvantages:
Sprinkler irrigation is a method of applying irrigation water which is
similar to natural rainfall.

The main objective of a sprinkler system is to apply water as uniformly

as possible to fill the root zone of the crop with water.
Water is distributed through a system of pipes usually by pumping.
It is then sprayed into the air through sprinklers so that it breaks up into
small water drops which fall to the ground.
The pump supply system, sprinklers and operating conditions must be
designed to enable a uniform application of water.
4.4.1 When to Use Sprinkler Irrigation

(A) Suitable crops:

Suited for most row, field and tree crops and water can be sprayed
over or under the crop canopy.
However, large sprinklers are not recommended for irrigation of
delicate crops such as lettuce because the large water drops
produced by the sprinklers may damage the crop.

(B) Suitable slopes:

Sprinkler irrigation is adaptable to any farmable slope, whether
uniform or undulating.
The lateral pipes supplying water to the sprinklers should always be
laid out along the land contour whenever possible. This will
minimize the pressure changes at the sprinklers and provide a
uniform irrigation.

(C) Suitable soils:

Sprinklers are best suited to sandy soils with high infiltration rates
although they are adaptable to most soils.
The average application rate from the sprinklers (in mm/hour) is
always chosen to be less than the basic infiltration rate of the soil
so that surface ponding and runoff can be avoided.

Sprinklers are not suitable for soils which easily form a crust. If sprinkler
irrigation is the only method available, then light fine sprays should be used. The
larger sprinklers producing larger water droplets are to be avoided.
5.1.4 Suitable irrigation water: A good clean supply of water, free of suspended
sediments, is required to avoid problems of sprinkler nozzle blockage and spoiling
the crop by coating it with sediment.

5.2 Sprinkler System Layout: A typical sprinkler irrigation system consists of:

(1) Pump unit (2) Mainline and sometimes sub-mainlines

(3) Laterals (4) Sprinklers

1. The pump unit: It is usually a centrifugal pump which takes water from
the source and provides adequate pressure for delivery into the pipe system.

Figure 53: An example of a sprinkler irrigation system layout

(mainline in the foreground, to which the laterals, with the sprinklers, are connected)

2. The Mainline & Sub-Mainlines:

These are pipes, which deliver water from the pump to the laterals.
In some cases these pipelines are permanent and are laid on the soil surface or
buried below ground.
In other cases they are temporary, and can be moved from field to field. The
main pipe materials used include asbestos cement, plastic or aluminium alloy.
3. The Laterals:
Laterals delivers water from the mainlines or sub-mainlines to the
sprinklers. They can be permanent but more often they are portable
and made of aluminium alloy or plastic so that they can be moved

4. Sprinklers System Layout

The most common type of sprinkler system layout is shown in Figure
54 (A&B). It consists of a system of lightweight aluminium or plastic
pipes which are moved by hand.

Figure 54-A: Hand-moved sprinkler system Figure 54-B: Hand-moved sprinkler system
using two laterals (Laterals 1 & 2 in position 1) using two laterals (Laterals 1 & 2 in position 2)

The rotary sprinklers are usually spaced 9-24 m apart along the lateral
which is normally 5-12.5 cm in diameter.
The lateral pipe is kept in the field until the irrigation is complete.
The pump is then switched off and the lateral is disconnected from the
mainline and moved to the next location (Figure 55).
Figure 55 Moving a lateral

It is re-assembled and connected to the mainline and the irrigation

begins again.

The lateral can be moved 1-4 times a day.

It is gradually moved around the field until the whole field is irrigated.

This is the simplest of all systems. Some use more than one lateral to
irrigate larger areas (see Figure 54).
Problem with Sprinkler Irrigation

A common problem with sprinkler irrigation is the large labour force

needed to move the pipes and sprinklers around the field.
In some places such labour may not be available & may be costly.
To overcome this problem many mobile systems have been
developed such as the hose reel raingun and the centre pivot.

Figure 56 An example of a sophisticated sprinkler irrigation system

4.3 Operating Sprinkler Systems

4.3.1 Wetting patterns 4.3.2 Application rate 4.3.3 Sprinkler drop sizes

5.3.1 Wetting patterns

The wetting pattern from a single rotary sprinkler is not very uniform
(Figure 57). Normally the area wetted is circular (see topview). The
heaviest wetting is close to the sprinkler (see sideview). For good
uniformity several sprinklers must be operated close together so that
their patterns overlap (Figure 58). For good uniformity the overlap
should be at least 65% of the wetted diameter. This determines
the maximum spacing between sprinklers.

Figure 57 Wetting pattern for a single Figure 57 Wetting pattern for a single sprinkler
sprinkler (TOP VIEW) (SIDE VIEW)

Figure 58 Wetting patterns for several sprinklers (TOP VIEW)

Figure 58 Wetting patterns for several sprinklers (SIDE VIEW)

The uniformity of sprinkler applications can be affected by-
o Wind and
o Water pressure.

Spray from sprinklers is easily blown out by even a gentle breeze

and this can seriously reduce uniformity.
To reduce the effects of wind the sprinklers can be positioned more
closely together.
Sprinklers will only work well at the right operating pressure
recommended by the manufacturer.
If the pressure is above or below this then distribution is affected.
The most common problem is when the pressure is too low.
This happens when pumps and pipes wear.
Friction increases and so pressure at the sprinkler reduces.

The result is that the water jet does not break up and all the water
tends to fall in one area towards the outside of the wetted circle.
If the pressure is too high then the distribution will also be poor.
A fine spray develops which falls close to the sprinkler.

5.3.2Application rate

This is the average rate at which water is sprayed onto the crops and is
measured in mm/hour.

The application rate depends on-

o the size of sprinkler nozzles
o the operating pressure and
o the distance between sprinklers.

When selecting a sprinkler system it is important to make sure that the

average application rate is less than the basic infiltration rate of the soil

In this way all the water applied will be readily absorbed by the soil and
there should be no runoff.
5.3.3 Sprinkler drop sizes

As water sprays from a sprinkler it breaks up into small drops between

0.5 and 4.0 mm in size.
The small drops fall close to the sprinkler whereas the larger ones
fall close to the edge of the wetted circle.
Drop size is also controlled by pressure and nozzle size.
When the pressure is low, drops tend to be much larger as the water jet
does not break up easily.
So to avoid crop and soil damage use small diameter nozzles
operating at or above the normal recommended operating pressure.

Figure 59 Sprinkler irrigation

4.2 Sub-surface Irrigation Method and its
Advantages and Disadvantages:

The efficiency of water use depends on soil characteristics,

topography and O & M (operation & maintenance management).
In a good system, the efficiency is 70-75%.
In sub-surface or sub-irrigation wu8ater is applied beneath the
ground by creating and maintaining an artificial water table at
some depth, usually 30 to 75 cm, below the ground surface.
Moisture moves upwards towards the land surface by capillary
action to meet requirements of the crops in plant roots.

Water obtained from wells, streams, lakes etc is applied

through underground distribution system comprising a properly
designed main field ditches, laterals, laid 15 to 30 m apart.

Water is introduced into soil profile through open ditches,

mole drains or tile drains.

Open ditches are preferred because they are relatively

inexpensive and suitable for all types of soils.

Tiles and mole drains are suitable only for organic soils.
Sub-surface irrigation requires little field preparation and

It entails minimum evaporation loss and surface waste.

The irrigation water is essentially required to be of good quality

to prevent excessive soil salinity.

The flow rate in supply ditches is required to be low to prevent

waterlogging of the field.

The use of sub-irrigation is limited because it requires certain

soil condition that is the soil is permeable in root zone,
underlain by an impervious horizon or high water table.
Essential Requirements of Sub-surface Irrigation

(i) Availability of adequate supply of good quality water

throughout growth period of the crop,
(ii) Fields must be nearly level and smooth. Ground slope is
moderate. Land is approximately parallel to water table,

(iii) Availability of a layer of permeable soil such as sandy loam or

loam immediately below the surface soil to permit free and rapid
movement of water laterally and vertically,

(iv) Availability of a relatively impervious layer 2-3 m below

ground surface to prevent deep percolation of water,

(v) A well planned distribution system of main ditches, field

laterals, etc., which raises the water table to a uniform depth
below the ground surface over the entire area,

(vi) Availability of adequate outlet for drainage of the area so

irrigated particularly in humid areas,
(vii) Subsoil water table is within 2-3 m below the ground surface,

(viii) Topographical conditions are uniform, and

(ix) Soil is capable of lifting moisture from the water table to the
root zone.

(x) The soil permits lateral and downward movement of water.

Advantages of Sub-Surface Irrigation Methods

1. In soils having low water holding capacity & high infiltration

rates: where surface methods cannot be used and sprinkler
system: is very expensive, sub-surface irrigation method can
be used effectively.

2. Evaporation loss from ground surface is minimum.

3. In this method, it is possible to maintain the water level at

optimum depths for crops required at different growth stages.

Disadvantages of Sub-Surface Irrigation Systems

1. It is quite expensive and labour intensive in the beginning.

2. The method requires an unusual combination of natural

conditions, therefore its scope is limited.

3. Frequent removal of accumulated soil and other materials

from channels is necessary.

5.1 Components of FI
(i) Storage works (ii) Diversion works
(iii) River training works (iv) Distribution system

A typical sketch of the flow irrigation system is shown in Fig. below.

(i) Storage works: Storage work comprises a reservoir created by

constructing a dam across the river. In the body of the dam a spillway is
provided to pass down the flood flow safely. Also, sluices and outlets are
provided to release the water for irrigation purposes.
(ii) Diversion works: Generally, a diversion work is provided across the
river below the dam in the vicinity of irrigable area. It is also called
headworks. A weir or barrages with its constituent parts raise the water
level in the river. A regulator diverts a measured quantity of water into the
canal system.

(iii) River training works: In order to guide the river flow in proper
direction and to protect the river course some sort of river training work is
constructed at the site of the head works. Commonly constructed training
works are guide banks, spurs or groynes and bank revetment.

(iv) Distribution system: Once the measured quantities are diverted in

the canal, water is carried to the fields by a network of big and small
irrigation canals. The network of the canals is called as canal system and
is made up of-
(a) Main canal (b) Branch canal
(c) Distributary canals (d) Field channels
(v) Other structures: Various other hydraulic structures are constructed
across the canals to carry irrigation water efficiently. These are as follows:
(a) Cross drainage works: the cross drainage works are
constructed to crossover natural drainage.
(b) Falls: The falls are provided to negotiate steep ground slopes

(c) Outlets: The outlets are constructed to divert irrigation supply in

the field channels

5.2 Canals- Classification:

Classification of canals on the basis of their functions are given below:

(a) Irrigation canal (b) Navigation canal (c) Power canal

(d) Carrier canal (e) Link canal (f) Feeder canal

5.3 Canal Alignment & Networks

Irrigation water, in flow type, should reach the fields by gravity.

Thus, irrigation canal is always aligned in such a way that the water
gets proper command over the whole irrigable area.
Obviously if the canal follows a ridge of the area it will get necessary
gravity flow.

Thus a canal which runs over the ridge gets command of area on both
sides of the ridge.

The canal takes off from point H on the river.

If a cross-section of the catchment area at this point is taken, the

level of the river at the head of the canal is say 410, whereas level of
point W on the ridge is 430.

The canal starting at level 410 is to be taken over the ridge at a

suitable point as soon as possible.

This is easily accomplished.

Point P is at level 407 and lies on the ridge.

This is possible because ground level falls very quickly from 430 at
W to 407 at P.
The distance from H to P is say 9 km. So if the canal is laid with a
slope of 1/3000. It is sufficient to bring the canal on the ridge. The
value of slope is also standard for laying the canal. Of course
selection of point P is a matter of trials. In some cases head works
will have to be located according to the conditions of the watershed.
Precautions in Canal Alignment:

i. Canal should be aligned on the ridge or in such a way as to obtain maximum

ii. So far as possible the canal alignment should be kept in the centre of the
commanded area.
iii. The canal should be aligned in such a way that the length is minimum possible.
iv. The alignment should avoid inhabited places/roads/railways/properties etc.
v. Canal should be taken through the area where subsoil formation is favourable.
Waterlogged, alkali, saline, rocky soils create troubles.
vi. The alignment should be straight so far as possible. Where alignment is not
straight simple circular curves of large radius should be provided.
vii. To ensure economy the alignment should be such that excessive cuttings and
fillings are not required. The alignment should not cross hills or depressions.
viii. While aligning the canal, cost of land to be acquired should be considered.
x. The canal should cross minimum number of drainages.

5.4 Canal Classification Based on Nature of Supply

Under this, canals are designated as Inundation and Perennial Canal.
Selection of Site for Inundation Canal

5.4 Canal Classification Based on Discharge

Based on DISCHARGE CAPACITY, canals are classified as-

(a) Main Canal (b) Branch Canal (c) Distributory Chanel (d) Field Channel

Canal Classification based on Alignment

5.5 Canal Lining (Objective, Types, Advantage & Disadvantage,
Selection of Type of Material, Justification of Lining)

Types of Lining:
Advantages & Disadvantages of Lining:

Justification of Lining:
5.6 Maintenance of Irrigation Canals
Carried out as per IS CODE: IS 4839 (Part-2) on MAINTENANCE OF
CANALS (Part-2, LINED CANALS (2nd Revision)
A lined canal should be maintained so that it continues to function efficiently and
serves the purpose for which it has been constructed, throughout its effective
span of life.
In addition to maintaining its imperviousness, the lining should be maintained so
that it also continues to have the same discharge capacity for which it has been
designed & which it had when it started operating after construction was over.

The reduction in discharge may, generally be due to accumulation of silt; cracking

of lining; failure of the drainage; growth of weeds, algae and moss; seepage and
evaporation etc.

Normally no silt deposition should be permitted to take place in a lined canal.

Sometimes the canal may have to be run at less than the designed full supply
discharge on account of fluctuating water demands, over the base periods of the
crops to be irrigated. Also even for a single crop discharge requirements vary
from month to month. Such low discharge conditions include deposition of silt
over the canal bed owing to low velocities of flow. Consequently, the discharge
carrying capacity of the lined canal is adversely affected. Silt deposition in lined
canals can be minimised by judicious operation of gates of cross regulators silt
ejectors/desilting basins, wherever provided. These gates should be lowered for
pending on the upstream side only under the following conditions:

a) To limit the rate of drawdown in the lined canal to a maximum of 0.5 metre
per day either during fluctuations of discharge or when the canal is being

b) To enable channels taking off upstream of the regulator to be fed properly or

to divert flow through escapes.

At all other times, the canal should be run with gates-full open.
Note: Special design features like under-drainage arrangements, humps or
regulators in canal bed, silt ejectors, surface drainage; etc should continue to
function efficiently so that the safety of the lining is not endangered.

Canal Closure: Suitable rules should be framed and observed for each canal
system to ensure that the closure does not create a rate of drawdown which is more
than what is provided for in the design.
Inspections of Lining
Whenever canal is closed for periodical inspection and repairs, the lining, its
auxiliaries and special design features should be carefully inspected. The
following points should be noted while carrying out the inspection:

a) Whether any cavities or pockets have been formed behind the lining.

Note: Where considered necessary these may be checked by sounding the lining
tiles inspection of wet patches on outside slopes on regular basis should be done.
b) Development of any cracks or displacement or damage to lining;
c) Whether the filler material in the joints of the lining is sound, intact and leak-proof
and any weed growth in the joints has taken place;
d) Whether pressure release arrangements/humps/regulators function effectively;
e) Whether pipes and openings provided in the crest of falls are choked;
f) Silt deposits and weed growth; and
g) Bench marks, Boundary pillars, full supply water levels/gauge at suitable intervals
be pointed/fixed to know about the hydraulic efficiency of the canal.

Maintenance of Lining
There can be distress to the lining ranging from small settlement cracks to excessive
heaving displacement and sinking of the lining in the following situations:
a) Cuts in soft fine grained soils, especially when the lining was laid directly on the
soil without any special preparation of the subgrade;
b) High water table situated considerably above the canal bed, especially in fine-
grained soils, where weep holes or other simple drainage devices are not very
c) Freshly laid embankments, especially if composed of clayey soils;
d) High continuous spoil banks, left too near the canal excavation without sufficiently
wide berms & adequate arrangements for draining the rain water away from the
canal & similar situations permitting surface drainage to enter behind the lining;
e) Cavities behind lining caused due to sucking out action on subgrade material by
oscillating waves or fluctuating supplies of water of the canal through cracks, open
joints and holes in lining. Such action as may be necessary to avoid recurrence of
any failure in the lining should be taken by investigating the causes of the failure and
remedying them. The defects or damaged parts of the lining, joint filler, etc, should
be immediately attended to and repaired so as to ensure a sound, stable and
watertight lining.
Reaches with High Subsoil Water Level

The subsoil water level should be observed in such reaches carefully

and regularly during and after the rainy season besides routine observations
from time to time. In case of rise, the adequacy of the pressure release system
or other remedial measures like humps, regulators, etc, provided for the safety
of the lining, should be reviewed and further measures adopted, if necessary.
Seepage through Embankments

Seepage through embankments, if any, should be observed at

reasonable intervals, of time. Where necessary, particularly in high
embankment reaches, observations of seepage flow should be made and any
abnormal increase in the seepage rate and soil particles should be viewed
with caution, its possible causes investigated and remedial measures taken.

Weed Removal: Aquatic weed growth, if observed below the supply level
should be removed. Land weed growing over the free board should also
be controlled.



For the maintenance of canal banks, roads and ramps and sources of earth for
repair, reference may be made to IS 4839 (Part 1):1992.

The canal banks should also be inspected for the seepage conditions at the outer
slope and for some distance beyond the toe, especially in high fill reaches.

An accurate and systematic record of the performance of a canal should be
maintained by periodic observations of-
o Mannings roughness coefficient
o Evaporation and seepage losses
o Life and behavior of the lining adopted
o Surge wave heights and
o Performance of pressure release system/humps/regulators etc.

Brushwood that collects at bridges, siphons and falls should be removed.
When trees fall into canal they shall be removed at once.
6.1 Types

6.2 Sources

6.3 Methods
6.4 Advantages & Disadvantages of Lift Irrigation

Advantages Disadvantages
Lift irrigation made irrigation Power is required to lift water.
possible at higher level
Land acquisition problem is less. Trouble free working of the
machinery (pump etc) is very rare
Water losses are low.
Sometimes cost of well water is so
high that returns are not justifiable.
Man power is less used.
The discharge is low and area
commanded is less.
6.4 Well Irrigation & Its Comparison with Canal Irrigation

Spatial mismatch in resource availability & demand can be effectively

addressed only by surface water projects & not by groundwater projects.
Transfer of Water in bulk is possible in canal irrigation but feasibility of
transferring groundwater in bulk is questionable.

Most of the seepage and deep percolation from flow irrigation systems
replenish groundwater, and is available for reuse by well owners in the
canal command.

This recycling process not only renders many millions of wells productive,
but also saves the scarce energy required to pump groundwater by

Multiple use benefits (fish production, brick making, water for domestic
use and cattle in rural areas) are possible in case of canal irrigation. This is
not possible in case of well irrigation.

6.5 Types of Wells

Drilled Wells:

Drilled wells are constructed by either cable tool (percussion) or rotary-drilling

Drilled wells that penetrate unconsolidated material require installation of casing
and a screen to prevent inflow of sediment and collapse.
They can be drilled more than 1,000 feet deep.
The space around the casing must be sealed with grouting material
(cement/bentonite clay) to prevent contamination by water draining from the
surface downward around the outside of the casing
The most common well drilling methods are:
o Air rotary
o Bucket auger
o Cable tool
o Down-the-hole
o Reverse circulation
Driven Wells:
Driven wells are constructed by driving a small-diameter pipe into shallow water-
bearing sand or gravel.
Usually a screened well point is attached to bottom of the casing before driving.
These wells are relatively simple and economical to construct, but they can tap
only shallow water and are easily contaminated from nearby surface sources
because they are not sealed with grouting material.
Hand-driven wells usually are about 30 deep; machine-driven wells can be 50
deep or more.

Dug Wells:
Historically, dug wells were excavated by hand shovel to below the water table
until incoming water exceeded the diggers bailing rate.
The well was lined with stones, bricks, tile, or other material to prevent collapse,
and was covered with a cap of wood, stone, or concrete tile.
Because of the type of construction, bored wells can go deeper beneath the
water table than can hand-dug wells.
Dug & bored wells have a large diameter and expose a large area to the aquifer.
The wells can obtain water from less-permeable strata of very fine sand/silt/clay
Disadvantages of the well are that they are shallow & lack continuous casing &
grouting, making them subject to contamination from nearby surface sources
They go dry during periods of drought if water table drops below the well bottom.
6.6 Construction of Open Wells
6.7 Determination of Yield of Open Well
7.1 Terms Relating to Canal Section
7.2 Design of Lined (Rigid Boundary) Canals (17-4-17)
Rigid channels are those in which the boundary is not deformable.
The lined canals are not designed making use of Lacey or Kennedy Theory
because the section is rigid.

Generally Mannings equation is used in design.

To carry a certain discharge number of channel sections may be designed with
different bed widths and side slopes. But it is clear that each section is not
equally good for the purpose.

The section to be adopted should be economical and at the same time it should
be functionally efficient.

It has been found that the most suitable cross-section of a lined

canal is a circular section with sloping sides. That is, the bed is not flat
but it is an arc of a circle. This arc is tangential to the sloping sides.

7.3 Mannings Equation

The Manning formula (GaucklerManning formula, or GaucklerManning
Strickler formula in Europe).
It was first presented by the French engineer Philippe Gauckler in 1867 and later
re-developed by the Irish engineer Robert Manning in 1890.
It is an empirical formula to estimate AVERAGE VELOCITY of a liquid flowing in
a conduit that does not completely enclose the liquid, i.e., open channel flow
driven by gravity. However, this equation is also used for calculation of flow
variables in case of flow in partially full conduits, as they also possess a free
surface. The GaucklerManning formula states:

V= n
R(2/3) S(1/2) Where:
V= cross-sectional average velocity (L/T; ft/s, m/s);
n= GaucklerManning coefficient. Units for values of n are often left off, however it
is NOT DIMENSIONLESS, having units of: (T/[L1/3]; s/[ft1/3]; s/[m1/3]).
Rh= Hydraulic radius (L; ft, m);

S= slope of the hydraulic grade line or the linear hydraulic head loss (L/L), which is
the same as the channel bed slope when the water depth is constant. (S = hf/L).

k: It is a conversion factor between SI and English units.

It can be left off, as long as you make sure to note and correct the units in your "n"
term. If you leave "n" in the traditional SI units, k is just the dimensional analysis to
convert to English. k=1 for SI units, and k=1.49 for English units. (Note: (1 m) 1/3/s =
(3.2808399 ft) 1/3/s = 1.4859 ft1/3/s)

Procedure to Design Rigid Boundary Channels:

In the design of a rigid-boundary channel, the channel cross section and size are
selected such that the required discharge is carried through the channel for the
available head with a suitable amount of freeboard.
The freeboard is defined as the vertical distance between the design water
surface and the top of the channel banks/lining (in case of unlined channel/
lined canal) & is provided to allow for unaccounted factors in design, uncertainty
in the selection of different parameters & disturbances on the water surface, etc.

The channel alignment is selected so that:

o The channel length is as short as possible

o Meets other requirements (accessibility, right of way & balancing of cut &
fill amounts).

The bottom slope is usually dictated by the site topography

The selection of channel shape/dimensions are based on the amount of flow to

be carried, the ease and economy of construction & the hydraulic efficiency of the
cross section.

A triangular channel is used for small rates of discharge, and a trapezoidal

cross section is generally used for large flows.

For structural reasons, channels excavated through mountains or built

underground usually have a circular or horseshoe shape. Normally, the Froude
number is kept low (<0.3) so that the flow surface does not become rough,
especially downstream of obstructions and bends. Similarly, the flow velocity is
selected such that the lining is not eroded & sediment carried is not deposited.
Normally, these channels are designed based on the assumption of
uniform flow, although in some situations gradually varied flow
calculations may be needed to assess the suitability of selected
channel size for extreme events.
Maximum Permissible Velocity:
The max. permissible velocity is not usually a consideration in
design of rigid boundary channels if the flow does not carry
large amounts of sediments.
However, if the sediment load is large, then flow velocities should
not be too high to avoid erosion of the channel.
The minimum flow velocity should be such that:
o sediment is not deposited
o Aquatic growth is inhibited
o Sulfide formation does not occur.
The lower limit for the minimum velocity depends upon the particle
size and the specific gravity of sediments carried in the flow. The
channel size does not have significant effect on the lower limit.

Generally, the minimum velocity in a channel is about 0.6 to 0.9 m/sec.

Flow velocities of 12 m/sec have been found to be acceptable in
concrete channels if the water is not carrying large concentrations of
The Channel Side Slopes:

The channel side slopes depend upon the type of soil in which the
channel is constructed.
Nearly vertical channel sides may be used in rocks and stiff clays,
whereas side slopes of 1 vertical to 3 horizontal may be needed in sandy soils.
For lined channels, US Bureau of Reclamation recommends slope of

The Free Board:

To allow for waves and water surface disturbances, a suitable amount of

freeboard should be provided.
As a rough estimate, the following formula, suggested by the U. S.
Bureau of Reclamation, may be used:
Fb = (ky)1/2 where,
Fb = freeboard (m) y = flow depth (m)
k = coefficient varying from 0.8 for a flow capacity of about 0.5-1.4
cumec for a flow capacity exceeding 85 cumec. Table 9-1 lists freeboards
for canals based on recommendations of Central Board of Irrigation &
Power, India [1968; Ranga Raju, 1983]. These values are somewhat less
than those given by the above equation.

Design Steps: Steps involved in design of a rigid-boundary channel are:

7.4 Design of Alluvial Channels
Alluvial channel design techniques are generally used for movable boundary
channels/streams with beds & banks made of unconsolidated sediment particles.

In an alluvial channel, there is a continual exchange of the channel boundary

material with the flow. Therefore, the design of an alluvial channel requires an
assessment of sediment continuity and channel performance for a range of flows.

7.5 Kennedys Silt Theory & Its Limitations

Kennedys Idea:
Design Procedure: Kennedys theory can be used in 2 different

Case 1: Given parameters are-

Discharge :Q Rugosity coefficient :N

Critical Velocity Ratio : m Channel Bed Slope :s

Steps Involved:
1. Assume a trail value of Depth of channel (D) in meters. Then find the mean
velocity by using Kennedys formula. V= m.0.55.D0.64
2. By using continuity equation Q= AV find the area of cross section.
3. Assume the shape of channel section with side slopes and find out the value of
base width of channel (B).
4. Find perimeter of the channel (P). This helps to find out the hydraulic mean depth
of channel (R). R=A/P
5. Finally by using Kutters formula find the mean velocity (V)

Both the values of V (Kennedy) and V (Kutters) must be same. Otherwise

repeat the above procedure by assuming another value of D.

Case-2: Given parameters are-

Discharge :Q Rugosity coefficient :N

Critical Velocity Ratio : m The B/D Ratio :X

1. Assume B/D = X

2. By using the Kennedys equation find V in terms of D.

3. Find the area of cross section of the channel in terms of D 2.

4. By using continuity equation Q=AV, find D & then Find the base width (B).

5. Find hydraulic mean depth (R)

6. Finally find the value of V by Kennedys formula. V = m.0.55.D0.64

7. Substitute the value of V (Kennedy) in Kutters equation to get longitudinal slope

of the channel (S). This case will be done by trial and error method.
7.6 Laceys Silt Theory & Its Limitations
7.7 Comparison of Kennedys with Laceys Silt Theory

(A) Object of Canal Headwork:

(B) Site Selection for Storage Headwork

(C) Site Selection for Diversion Headwork

(D) Component Parts of Diversion Headwork

(1) Weir and Barrage

Barrages are better than weirs due to the following reasons:

(i) Because of lower crest level of a barrage, afflux during floods is small.
(ii) Barrages offer better control on river outflow & canal discharge.
(iii) A roadway across the river can be provided at a small additional cost.
2. Divide Wall
The divide wall is constructed parallel
(nearly parallel) to canal head regulator
for separating the main weir base from
the base of scouring sluice.
The wall extends on both sides of weir.
The divide wall separates the weir floor
from the floor of scouring sluices which is
usually at a lower level than weir floor.
The divide wall also isolates the canal
head regulator from main river flow &
creates a still pond of water in front of the
canal head regulator. The divide wall also improves
scouring of the deposited
This results in relatively sediment- free sediment in the under-sluices by
water entering into the off taking canal. ensuring straight approach.

3. Scouring Sluices (Under Sluices):

Construction of a weir/barrage across a river results in ponding of water & causes

considerable sediment deposition just upstream of the canal head regulator & this
sediment must be flushed D/S of the weir.
This is done by scouring sluices (under sluices) which are gate-controlled
openings in continuation of the weir with their crest at a level lower than the level
of the weir crest and are located on the same side as the off-taking canal.
In case of two off taking canals, one on each of the two banks of the river,
scouring sluices are provided at both ends of the weir.
The scouring sluices are also useful for passing low floods, after meeting the
requirements of the off taking canal.
4. Fish Ladder
Different kinds of fish in a river migrate from U/S to D/S in the beginning of the
winter in search of warmth & return U/S before monsoon for sediment-free water.

While constructing a weir across a river, a narrow opening between the divide wall
and the scouring sluices (where water is always present) is provided to allow for
free movement of fish. This opening is called fish ladder/fish way/fish pass in
which baffles or staggering devices are provided so as to keep flow velocity in fish
ladder < 3.0 m/sec so that fish can easily travel upstream.
5. Canal Head Regulator

A canal head regulator regulates the discharge into the off-taking canal & also
controls the entry of sediment into the canal.
The head regulator is usually aligned at an angle of 90 to 110 to the barrage axis
to minimise entry of sediment into the off-taking canal. & to prevent backflow &
stagnation zones in the under-sluice pocket U/S of the regulator.
The discharge through the regulator is controlled by steel gates which are
generally of 6 to 8 m width.

6. Silt Excluder (Sediment Excluder):

Sediment entering into an off-taking canal, if excessive, causes silting and thus
reduces canal capacity.
As such, it is necessary to control the amount of sediment entering into the off-
taking canal.
This is done by constructing a sediment excluder in the river bed immediately U/S
of the canal head regulator.
Tunnel-type sediment excluder (below) prevents the bottom layers of water,
which have maximum sediment concentration, from entering the off taking canal
and allows only the top layers of the stream, containing relatively less sediment,
to enter the off taking canal.
7. Guide Bank
8. Marginal Embankment
These are earthen embankments, also known as levees, which are
constructed in the flood plains of a river and run parallel to the river bank
along its length.
The aim of providing these embankments is to confine the river flood water
within the cross section available between the embankments.

The flood water of a river is thus not allowed to spill over to the flood plains,
as normally would had been.

However, the ill effects of providing these embankments have become

quite apparent now, the most serious of which is the gradual rise of the
river bed level over the years due to deposition of sediments.
8.2 Brief Introduction of Hydraulic Structures

8.2.1 Dams
CLASSIFICATIONS OF DAM (based on type & materials of construction)

Criteria for selection of best dam type:

1. Feasibility: topography, geology, and climate (& its effect on materials)

2. Cost: availability of construction materials near the site; accessibility of transportation


Types Materials of Construction

A. Gravity Concrete, rubble masonry

B. Arch Concrete
C. Buttress Concrete, also timber & steel
D. Embankment Earth or rock

Foundation Requirements of a Dam

Strong foundation : Minimal differential settlement
No bearing capacity shear failure : Sand/Gravel or rock
Low hydraulic conductivity : Silt and/or Clay, non-fractured rock

GRAVITY DAMS: Gravity dams are dams which resist the horizontal thrust of the water
entirely by their own weight. They use their weight to hold back the water in the
reservoir. They can be made of earth or rock fill or concrete.
-Depends on its own weight for stability
-Usually straight in plan although slightly curved

Forces on Gravity Dam

1. Gravity (weight of dam)

W = Vx = (volume)(specific weight of material)
3 3
(lb) = (f )(lb/f )

2. Hydrostatic pressure
Hh = h2 / 2 (horizontal component)
(lb/f) = (lb/f3) (f)2 /2

where, h = depth of water at that section & = specific weight of water

Hv = V / h (vertical component)
(lb/f) = (lb/f3) (f3) / f

Where, V = volume of the dam at that point

3. Uplif: the water under pressure that comes between dam and foundation and results
in upward (uplif) forces against the dam
h1 = depth of water @ upstream face, aka heel (higher)
h2 = depth of water@ downstream face, aka toe (lower)
= specific weight of water
t = base thickness of dam.
4. Ice pressure: pressure created by thermal expansion exerts thrust against upstream
face of the dam
5. Earthquake forces: results in inertial forces that include vertical motion, oscillatory
increase, or decrease in hydrostatic pressure (all put force against dam)

Causes of Failure:
1. Sliding along horizontal plane (shear failure) i.e. net force>shear resistance at that level
2. Rotation about the toe
3. Failure of material

Friat Dam Tygart Dam, West Virginia

Curved dam which is dependent upon arch action for its strength.
Transmits most of horizontal water thrust behind them to abutments by arch action.
Thinner & requires less material than any other type of dam.
Used only in narrow canyons

Arch dams includes:

*series of horizontal arches *series of vertical cantilevers

Load distribution Most of load carried by

Near bottom of dam cantilevers (Known as Trial Load Method)

Near top of dam arches
I. Constant-center (Constant radius) best for U shaped canyons
II. Variable-center (Variable radius, constant-angle) best for V shaped canyons

Boundary Dam, Seattle Salmon Creek Dam, Alaska


Buttress dams are dams in which the face is held up by a series of supports
Buttress dams can take many forms- the face may be flat or curved
Usually, buttress dams are made of concrete and may be reinforced with steel bars

Sloping membrane that transmits the water load to a series of buttresses @ right
angles to axis of dam
Increased formwork & reinforced steel compared to gravity dam
Less massive than gravity dam (requires 1/3 to 1/2 as much concrete)
Use on weaker foundation
Same forces as gravity and arch dams, however, ice pressures not as prevalent; gaps
between buttresses relieve majority of uplif forces-
Types Water Supporting Membrane

1. Flat-slab flat, concrete-reinforced slabs

2. Multiple-arch series of arches

Daniel-Johnson Dam Buttresses & Arch of the Bartlett Dam, Colorado, USA
Quebec, Canada Roselend Dam, France
Embankment dams are massive dams made of earth or rock.
They rely on their weight to resist the flow of water, just like concrete gravity dams.

Types of Embankment Dam:

1. Simple Embankment, homogeneous throughout (upstream less permeable material)
2. Impervious Foundation
3. Impervious Core (Zoned embankments)
Generally have some sort of water proof insides (called the core), which is covered
with earth or rock fill.
Water seeps in through the earth or rock fill, but should not seep into the core.
The water will seep into the core material and should stop at the seepage line.

Forces on Embankment Dams:

1. Force of the water (main force) 2. Uplif force

Wolf Creek Dam,

Nashville Quoich Rockfil Tataragi Dam, Asago,
Embankment Dam, Japan.

temporary structures (sheet-pile, water-tight) that allow construction operations
diverts flow from construction areas until work completed
A coffer dam on the Ohio River, Illinois

8.2.2 Barrage
If most of the ponding is done by gates and a smaller or nil part of it is
done by the raised crest, then the barrier is known as a barrage or a
river regulator.
It is a type of low-head, diversion dam, which consists of a number of
large gates that can be opened or closed to control the amount of
water passing through the structure, and thus regulate and stabilize
river water elevation U/S for use in irrigation and other systems.

A typical cross-section of a barrage

8.2.3 Weirs
Here, major/entire ponding of water is achieved by a raised crest and a smaller part
or nil part of it is achieved by the shutters, then this barrier is known as a weir.

A typical cross-section of a modern concrete weir

Gravity and Non-gravity weirs:

When the weight of the weir (body+floor) balances the uplift pressure caused by the
head of the water seeping below the weir, it is called a gravity weir.
On the other hand, if the weir floor is designed continuous with the divide piers as
reinforced structure, such that the weight of concrete slab together with the weight of
divide piers keep the structure safe against the uplift then the structure may be
called as a non-gravity weir.
o In the latter case, RCC is to be used in place of brick piers
o Considerable savings may be obtained, as the weight of the floor can be much
less than what is required in gravity weir.

TYPES OF WEIRS (Material of Construction-wise)

(a) Masonry weirs with (b) Rock-fill weirs with (c) Concrete weirs with
vertical drop sloping aprons sloping glacis

Masonry Weirs with Vertical Drop

Masonry weir wall is constructed over the impervious floor. Cut-off walls are
provided at both ends of the floor. Sheet piles are provided below the cut off walls.
The crest shutters are provided to raise the water level, if required. The shutters are
dropped down during flood. The masonry weir wall may be vertical on both faces or
sloping on both faces or vertical on downstream face and sloping in upstream face.

Rock-fill weirs with sloping aprons

It consists of masonry breast wall which is provided with adjustable crest shutter.
The upstream rock-fill portion is constructed with boulders forming a slope of 1 in 4.
The boulders are grouted with cement mortar. The downstream sloping apron
consists of core walls. The intermediate spaces between the core walls are filled up
with boulders maintaining a slope of 1 in 20. The boulders are grouted properly with
cement mortar.
Concrete weir: Now-a-days, the weir is constructed with reinforced cement
concrete. The impervious floor and the weir are made monolithic. The cut off walls
are provided at the upstream and downstream end of the floor and at the toe of the
weir. Sheet piles are provided below the cut-off walls. The crest shutters are also
provided which hare dropped down during the flood.


The rise in the highest flood level (HFL) upstream of the weir due to
construction of the weir across the river.
In case of weir, the afflux caused during high floods is quite high. But
in case of a barrage, the gates can be opened during high floods
and the afflux will be nil or minimum.
Choice between a weir and a barrage
The choice between a weir and a barrage is largely governed by cost and
convenience in working.
A shuttered weir will be relatively cheaper but will lack the effective
control possible in the case of a barrage.
A barrage type construction can be easily supplemented with a
roadway across the river at a small additional cost. Barrages are
almost invariably constructed now-a-days on all important rivers.

Difference between Barrage & Weir

SL Barrage Weir
(a) Low set crest High set crest
(b) Ponding is done by means of Ponding is done against the raised
gates crest or partly against crest & partly
by shutters
(c) Gated over entire length Shutters in part length
(d) Gates are of greater height Shutters are of smaller height, 2 m
(e) Gates are raised clear off the Shutters are dropped to pass
high floods to pass floods floods
(f) Perfect control on river flow No control of river in low floods
(g) Gates convenient to operate Operation of shutters is slow,
involves labour/time
(h) High floods can be passed Excessive afflux in high floods
with minimum afflux
(i) Less silting upstream due to Raised crest causes silting
low set crest upstream
(j) Longer construction period Shorter construction period
(k) Silt removal is done through No means for silt disposal
under sluices
(l) Road and/or rail bridge can Not possible to provide road-rail
be constructed at low cost bridge
(m) Costly structure Relatively cheaper structure
8.2.4 Spillways
The damage to life and property on account of the failure of a dam would
be catastrophic. As such, there must always be a provision to release
excess water safely when the reservoir has been filled to its capacity so
that the dam itself is not overtopped. This is achieved by constructing a
spillway. Spillways release safely the surplus water which cannot be
contained in the reservoir created by the dam. The surplus water is
usually drawn from the top of the reservoir and conveyed through an
artificial waterway back to the river downstream of the dam or to some
other natural drainage channel. Spillway can be constructed either as part
of the main dam, such as in overflow section of a concrete dam or as a
separate structure altogether.

8.2.5 Head Regulator

Regulators Constructed at the off taking point are called head


When it is constructed at the head of main canal it is known as canal

head regulator.

And when it is constructed at the head of distributary, it is called

distributary head regulator.

To control the entry of water either from the reservoir or from the main

To control the entry of silt into off taking or main canal.

To serve as a meter for measuring discharge of water.

Construction: The components of head regulator depend upon the size

of canal and location of head regulator. It consists of one or more gated
openings with barrels running through the bank. For large canals head
regulators are flumed to facilitate the measurement of discharge.

8.2.6 Cross Regulator

A Regulator Constructed in the main canal or parent canal

downstream of an off take canal is called cross regulator.

It is generally constructed at a distance of 9 to 12 km along the main

canal and 6 to 10 km along branch canal.


To Control the flow of water in canal system

To feed the off taking Canals
To enable closing of the canal breaches on the d/s
To provide roadway for vehicular traffic

Construction: For Cross Regulators abutments with grooves and piers

are constructed parallel to the parent canal. The sill of regulation is kept
little higher than the U/S bed level of canal across which it is constructed.
Vertical lift gates are fitted in the grooves. The gates can be operated
from the road.

9.1 Canal Falls

Whenever the available natural ground Such a structure is called a

slope is steeper than the designed bed Canal Fall or a Canal drop.
slope of the channel, the difference is
adjusted by constructing vertical falls or
drops in the canal bed at suitable intervals,
as shown in figure below.

Such a drop in a natural canal bed will not

be stable & therefore, in order to retain this
drop, a masonry structure is constructed.
9.2 Necessity of Canal Falls
9.3 Location of Canal Falls

The location of a fall is primarily influenced by the topography of the area and the
desirability of combining a fall with other masonry structures such as bridges,
regulators, and so on.
In case of main canals, economy in the cost of excavation is to be considered.

Besides, the relative economy of providing a large number of smaller falls

(achieving balanced earth work and ease in construction) compared to that of a
smaller number of larger falls (resulting in reduced construction cost and
increased power production) is also worked out.

In case of channels which irrigate the command area directly, a fall should be
provided before the bed of the channel comes into filling. The full supply level of a
channel can be kept below the ground level for a distance of up to about 500 m
downstream of the fall as the command area in this reach can be irrigated by the
channels off-taking from upstream of the fall.
9.4 Types of Canal Falls: Depending on the ground level conditions and shape of the
fall the various types of fall are:

Ogee Fall:

The ogee fall was constructed by Sir Proby Cautley on the Ganga Canal. This
type of fall has gradual convex and concave surfaces i.e. in the ogee form. The
gradual convex and concave surface is provided with an aim to provide smooth
transition and to reduce disturbance and impact. A hydraulic jump is formed
which dissipates a part of kinetic energy. Upstream and downstream of the fall is
provided by Stone Pitching.

Stepped Fall:

It consists of a series of vertical drops in the form of steps. This is suitable in places
where sloping ground is very long and requires a long glacis to connect the higher
bed level u/s with lower bed level d/s. it is practically a modification of rapid fall. The
sloping glacis is divided into a number drops to bring down the canal bed step by
step to protect the canal bed and sides from damage by erosion. Brick walls are
provided at each drop. The bed of the canal within the fall is protected by rubble
masonry with surface finishing by rich cement mortar.
Vertical Fall (Sarda Fall):

In the simple type, canal u/s bed is on the level of upstream curtain wall, canal u/s
bed level is below the crest of curtain wall. In both the cases, a cistern is formed to
act as water cushion. Floor is made of concrete u/s and d/s side stone pitching with
cement grouting is provided. This type of fall is used in Sarda Canal UP and
therefore, it is also called Sarda Fall.
Rapid Fall:

When the natural ground level is even and rapid, this rapid fall is suitable. It consists
of long sloping glacis. Curtain walls are provided on both u/s and d/s sides. Rubble
masonry with cement grouting is provided from u/s curtain wall to d/s curtain wall.
Masonry surface is finished with a rich cement mortar.

Straight Glacis Fall:

It consists of a straight glacis provided with a crest wall. For dissipation of energy of
flowing water, a water cushion is provided. Curtain walls are provided at toe and
heel. Stone pitching is required at upstream and downstream of the fall.
Trapezoidal Notch Fall:

It was designed by Reid in 1894. In this type a body or foundation wall across the
channel consisting of several trapezoidal notches between side pier and
intermediate pier is constructed. The sill of the notches are kept at upstream bed
level of the canal. The body wall is made of concrete. An impervious floor is
provided to resist the scouring effect of falling water. Upstream and downstream
side of the fall is protected by stone pitching finished with cement grouting

Well or Cylinder Notch Fall:

In this type, water of canal from higher level is thrown in a well or a cylinder from
where it escapes from bottom. Energy is dissipated in the well in turbulence. They
are suitable for low discharges and are economical also.

Montague Type Fall:

In the straight glacis type profile, energy dissipation is not complete. Therefore,
Montague developed this type of profile where energy dissipation takes place. His
profile is parabolic and is given by the following equation,
Inglis or Baffle Fall:

Here glacis is straight and sloping, but baffle wall provided on the downstream floor
dissipate the energy. Main body of glacis is made of concrete. Curtain walls both at
toe and heel are provided. Stone pitching are essential both at u/s and d/s ends.
Silt Control Devices
Silt Excluder: The silt excluder is located on the U/S of diversion weir and in front of
the head regulator. The object is to remove silt that has entered in the stilling basin
through scouring sluices.

Silt Ejector: Silt Ejector is located in the canal take off from the diversion weir at 6
to 10 km in the canal reach. It ejects the silt that has entered the canal
9.7 Canal Outlet and Escapes

These structures are meant to release excess water from a canal, which
could be main canal, branch canal, distributary, minors, etc. Though
usually an irrigation system suffers from deficit supply in later years of its
life, situations that might suddenly lead to accumulation of excess water
in a certain reach of a canal network may occur due to the following

(a) Wrong operation of head works in trying to regulate flaw in a long

channel resulting in release of excess water than the total demand in the
canal system downstream.

(b) Excessive rainfall in the command area leading to reduced demand

and consequent closure of downstream gates.

(c) Sudden closure of control gates due to a canal bank breach.

Suitable Locations:

This is often determined on the availability of suitable drains, depressions

or rivers with their bed level at or below the canal bed level so that any
surplus water may be released quickly disposed through these natural
outlets. Escapes may be necessary upstream of points where canals
takeoff from a main canal branch.

Escape upstream of major aqueducts is usually provided. Canal escapes

may be provided at intervals of 15-20 km for main canal and at 10-15 km
intervals for other canals.

10.1 Necessity

10.2 Types of CD Works

There are 3 types of cross-drainage works structures:

Type-1: Cross drainage work carrying canal over the drain

The structures falling under this type are
Aqueduct & Syphon Aqueduct

Type-2: Cross Drainage work carrying Drainage over the canal

The structures falling under this type are
Super passage & Canal Syphon

Type-3: Cross drainage works admitting canal water into the canal
The structures falling under this type are
Level Crossing & Canal inlets
Type-1: Canal over drainage [HFL < FSL]


In an aqueduct, the canal bed level is above the drainage bed level so canal is to
be constructed above drainage.

A canal trough is to be constructed in which canal water flows from upstream to

downstream. This canal trough is to be rested on number of piers. The drained
water flows through these piers upstream to downstream.

The canal water level is referred as full supply level (FSL) and drainage water
level is referred as high flood level (HFL). The HFL is below the canal bed level.

Aqueduct is similar to a bridge, instead of roadway or railway, canal water are

carried in the trough and below that the drainage water flows under gravity and
possessing atmospheric pressure.

Fig (a) Aqueduct

Syphon Aqueduct:

In a syphon aqueduct, canal water is carrier above the drainage but the high
flood level (HFL) of drainage is above the canal trough. The drainage water flows
under syphonic action and there is no presence of atmospheric pressure in the
natural drain.

The construction of the syphon aqueduct structure is such that, the flooring of
drain is depressed downwards by constructing a vertical drop weir to discharge
high flow drain water through the depressed concrete floor.

Syphonic aqueducts are more often constructed and better preferred than simple
Aqueduct, though costlier.
Fig (b) Syphon Aqueduct

Type-2: Drainage over canal (HFL > FSL)

Super Passage:
Super passage structure carries drainage above canal as the canal bed level is
below drainage bed level.
The drainage trough is to be constructed at road level and drainage water flows
through this from upstream to downstream and the canal water flows through the
piers which are constructed below this drainage trough as supports.

The full supply level of canal is below the drainage trough in this structure.

The water in canal flows under gravity and possess the atmospheric pressure.
This is simply a reverse of Aqueduct structure.

Fig (c): Super Passage

Canal Syphon:

In a canal syphon, drainage is carried over canal similar to a super passage but
the full supply level of canal is above than the drainage trough.so the canal water
flows under syphonic action and there is no presence of atmospheric pressure in

When compared, super passage is more often preferred than canal Syphon
because in a canal Syphon, big disadvantage is that the canal water is under
drainage trough so any defective minerals or sediment deposited cannot be
removed with ease like in the case of a Syphon Aqueduct.

Flooring of canal is depressed and ramp like structure is provided at upstream

and downstream to form syphonic action. This structure is a reverse of Syphon

Fig (d) Canal Syphon

Type-3: Drainage admitted into canal (HFL = FSL)

In this case, the drainage water is to be mixed up with canal water, here the cost
of construction is less but silt clearance & maintenance of canal water becomes
really difficult.

So the structures falling under this category are constructed with utmost care.

Level Crossing:

When the bed level of canal is equal to the drainage bed level, then level crossing is
to be constructed. This consists of following steps:

1. Construction of weir to stop drainage water behind it

2. Construction of canal regulator across a canal
3. Construction of head regulator across a Drainage
Functioning of a level crossing:
In peak supply time of canal water parallel to drainage, both the regulators are
opened to clear the drainage water from that of canal for certain time interval.

Once the drainage is cleared, the head regulator is closed down. Anyhow, cross
regulator is always in open condition throughout year to supply canal water
Figure (e) Level crossing
Canal Inlets:

In a canal inlet structure, the drainage water to be admitted into canal is very

The drainage is taken through the banks of a canal at inlet.

And then this drainage water mixed with canal travels certain length of the canal,
after which an outlet is provided to create suction pressure and suck all the
drainage solids, disposing it to the watershed area nearby.

There are many disadvantages in use of canal inlet structure, because the
drainage may pollute canal water and also the bank erosion may take place
causing the canal structure deteriorate so that maintenance costs are high.

Hence this type of structure is rarely constructed.

Figure (f) Canal inlet plan & cross-sectional views

(a) pipe type (b) open cut type


11.1 Waterlogging
11.2 Causes of Waterlogging
11.3 Ill-effects of Waterlogging
11.4 Preventive Measures
11.5 Reclamation of Water-logged Land