What Are The Sources Of Irrigation?

Sources Of Irrigation: India has a wide variety of irrigation methods and resources to deal with the regional and seasonal variations in weather.

The monsoon season, which lasts only four months, does not bring much moisture to a significant part of India’s net sown territory. So irrigation is essential to beating the regional and temporal variations of rainfall. People have been creating intricate hydraulic structures like dams made of stone detritus, reservoirs or lakes, embankments, and irrigation channels for a very long time, according to history and archaeological data. Naturally, the majority of river systems in modern India have dams built in order to continue this practise. Let’s examine these watering methods in India in more detail.

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Irrigation sources: Maximum capacity

Irrigation is estimated to cover only 66 million hectares (mha), or 47.6% of the total cultivated area. More farmland must be covered by guaranteed irrigation in order to increase farming output and production. India’s total final irrigation capacity is estimated to be 140 mha, of which 64 mha will come from groundwater sources and 76 mha from surface water sources.



Watering: Methods and Resources

The most popular methods and resources for irrigation in India are listed below.

A canal is a man-made watercourse created for water transportation and irrigation. There are two distinct types of canals:

  • Canals of inundation: These are drawn from waterways without having any kind of weirs or other types of buildings acting as a control. Only when it’s rainy outside can you use these rivers.
  • The construction of a barrage over perpetual waterways results in permanent canals. Nowadays, perennial waterways make up the bulk of the canals in India.

Canals can be a practical source of irrigation in locations with thick, rich soils, a constant supply of water, and a sizable command area. Therefore, the bulk of canal irrigation is centred in the northern lowlands. Due to the region’s rugged terrain, canals are essentially nonexistent in the peninsular plains. The coastal and delta areas of South India do, however, have a few waterways for irrigation.

Less than 25% of the country’s total irrigated territory is now covered by waterways, a decrease from nearly 40% in the years 1950–1951. The bulk (60%) of the nation’s canal irrigation territory is located in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Bihar.


Canal irrigation: Advantages

  • A perennial source offers protection against droughts.
  • It provides the fields with fertile sediments.
  • It is affordable enough to cover a huge region.


Canal irrigation: Drawbacks

  • Groundwater logging, salinisation, and marshy conditions brought on by canal water soaking into the soil also cause malaria and floods.
  • Canal irrigation can lead to significant water wastage.



Sources of irrigation #2: Wells (and tubewells)

A well is a cavity dug in the ground for the purpose of extracting water from the subsurface. Although larger wells up to 15 metres deep have been excavated, the average depth of a well is 3-5 metres. Since the beginning of time, India has irrigated using this technique. The well’s groundwater is drawn using a variety of techniques. The two most frequently used methods are the Persian wheel and skiff (lever).

An underground well that is typically over 15 metres deep is called a tubewell. An electronic generator or a pumping set driven by a diesel engine is used to move the water. Well watering is being quickly replaced by electric tubewells. But in places without electricity or where farms cannot afford diesel gasoline, many wells are still in use. In regions where there is a plentiful quantity of sweet groundwater, this form of irrigation is common. It works particularly well in areas with porous limestone formations where rainwater can collect through percolation. Wells are consequently more prevalent where there is alluvial soil, regur soil, etc. and less prevalent where there is stony territory or mountains.

Sources Of Irrigation

These areas include the crystalline minerals and weathered layers of the Deccan trap, the sedimentary zones of the peninsula, the deltaic regions of the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery, and portions of the Narmada and Tapi rivers. However, due to its stony structure, uneven surface, and lack of underground water, the majority of peninsular India cannot be watered by wells.

Large sections of Rajasthan’s desert, nearby regions in Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat, as well as some areas of Uttar Pradesh, have brackish groundwater, rendering them unsuitable for well irrigation. At the present, irrigation from wells and tubewells supplies more than 60% of the net irrigated area in the country.

The province of Uttar Pradesh contains 28% of the country’s well-irrigated acreage. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh make up about three-fourths of all the well-irrigated territory.



Sources Of Irrigation: Well/Tubewell Irrigation: Advantages

  • It is the easiest and least expensive source of irrigation/
  • When the need arises, a well can be utilised as a standalone source of irrigation. On the other hand, canal irrigation is governed by several organisations and cannot be employed at will.
  • Some salts found in groundwater can benefit crops.
  • This technique does not cause difficulties with floods and salinisation.
  • A well may be drilled wherever convenient, but the range of canal irrigation is limited beyond the canal’s tail end.


Well/Tubewell Irrigation: Drawbacks

  • Irrigation is only possible in a small region. An irrigation capacity of 1 to 8 hectares is common for a well.
  • It is not appropriate for arid areas.
  • Overuse of this irrigation technique could cause the water table to drop.


Sources of irrigation #3: Tank irrigation

An irrigation pond, also known as a tiny lake or pool made by damming a stream valley to collect monsoon rain for later use, is known as a tank. It accounts for about 3% of India’s total irrigated territory. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the top two states on the peninsular region, where tank irrigation is widely used.

Andhra Pradesh has the most tank irrigation land in India (29%) followed by Tamil Nadu (23%).



It is mostly used in the peninsular area because of the following reasons:

  • The uneven topography and rough boulders make it difficult to excavate channels and wells.
  • There is not much water percolation because of the unyielding granite structure and the scarcity of groundwater.
  • The only way to use this water is to contain it by constructing bunds and reservoirs due to the seasonal nature of most waterways and the torrential nature of many streams during the wet season. In addition, the impermeability of the rocks makes it simple to gather rainfall in ditches, whether they are built naturally or intentionally.


Sources Of Irrigation: Tank irrigation: Advantages

  • The majority of tanks are made of natural materials and don’t require much money to build.
  • It can serve as a source of irrigation for a single farmer or a small group of farmers.
  • Additionally, longer-lived fish can be employed for fishing.


Tank irrigation: Drawbacks

  • Lack of rain can cause these tanks to dry up during the dry season, and their beds can silt up.
  • Tanks require a lot of space.
  • It can result in losses from evaporation.
  • It can occasionally be necessary to elevate the water to transport it to the field.



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