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Irrigation Systems

Various irrigation systems enable producers to control the amount, timing and sometimes quality of water applied to the crop.  The main goal however, is to evenly distribute adequate water to the field to ensure each plant has sufficient water.

These different irrigation systems are split into three main categories; Overhead systems, Furrow systems and Drip systems.  For information about selecting an irrigation system click on WATERpak 5_1 Selecting an irrigation system

Click on the following links to find more resources about each different irrigation system.


Overhead irrigation is the application of water to crops from above. The past few years have seen a rapid increase in the number of overhead irrigators being operated as part of farmers’ push to increase profitability through increased water use efficiency and accurate application. Overhead irrigation systems include centre pivot irrigation machines, lateral move irrigation machines, fixed and mobile sprinkler systems. To learn more about overhead irrigation, click here


Surface irrigation is comprised of a number of application techniques where water is applied and distributed over the soil surface by gravity.   Good design and management is needed to apply water evenly across a field using this form of irrigation.  Furrow irrigation is when small parallel channels are constructed along the field length in the direction of predominant slope. Water is applied to the top end of each furrow and flows down the field under the influence of gravity.  It is widely used within broadacre irrigation as it is suitable for a wide range of soil types, crops and land slopes.  To learn more about furrow irrigation, click here


Drip irrigation, also known as trickle irrigation, is the method of delivering water directly to the root zone of the plants minimizing evaporation and runoff.  Water is supplied through drip or trickle applications via pipes or hoses which run along the rows of the crops. To learn more about drip irrigation systems, click here


Pumps are used to acces and/or transfer water within all irrigation systems.  The operation of pumps involves the use of energy and as a consequence their efficient operation is important in minimising the operating costs associated with the irrigation system. To learn more about pumps and their efficient operation, click here