Factors to Consider When Selecting an Irrigation System

Selecting the best irrigation system for your filed

Growing crops on a field requires a reliable and efficient irrigation system that will help maximize the yield and minimize water usage (irrigation efficiency). With various irrigation systems to choose from, selecting and investing in an appropriate one becomes crucial. The right selection ensures efficient water delivery to crops while improving soil quality and reducing water usage. Choosing the right irrigation system for your farm requires understanding various factors. These include the following:

1. Soil Type and Field Characteristics

Soil type plays an essential role in irrigation. Different soils have different abilities to retain water (water-holding capacity) or allow drainage. For example, sandy soils need a more frequent watering rate with smaller amounts than clay soil. Knowing the type of soil will help in the selection of an irrigation system that is suitable for your farm. Other factors like the slope of the field, the shape and size, and the soil health (salinity levels, organic content, etc.) and depth should also be taken into account.

irrigation system

2. Crop type and Planting Density

Different crops have different water requirements, and selecting an irrigation system that suits the water demand of the crops planted is essential. For instance, crops with deep root systems need deeper watering using drip irrigation systems. Similarly, the height of the crop and its life cycle length (annuals, perennials, etc.) may affect the decision. Finally, another factor is the way the crop will be planted or sown in the field (are there any free rows left for the machinery to move around?)

3. Climate – Environmental Conditions

The climate is crucial in the selection of the right irrigation system. Areas with high humidity may not require intensive irrigation. Therefore, a less intensive irrigation system such as drip irrigation can be suitable. Similarly, regions that receive high rainfall need less water, so a drip irrigation system or soaker hose may be the best solution. On the other hand, areas with low rainfall require more watering, and a sprinkler will be ideal. A “smart” irrigation system that can adjust based on climate might be a good option.

4. Water Source, Availability and Quality

The available water source usually plays a crucial role when a farmer chooses an irrigation system for his/her field. For example, a surface water source would not require a sprinkler system that filters water from the start. Additionally, the source water quality could dictate the pressure and the selection of an adequate filtration system suitable for plants. Also, check any restrictions or regulations from your local authority regarding water usage (especially in periods of high demand).

irrigation system

Water Quality

Water quality affects the type of irrigation system that is used. Water containing a high level of minerals and other contaminants will clog drip and soaker systems. In this scenario, sprinkler systems would be the most suitable since it waters via spray.

5. Availability of Funds and Labor

The different irrigation systems have different demands in labor (e.g., hand watering) and installation and maintenance costs. However, the farmer should also consider the long-term trade-offs of a system. For example, drip irrigation has one of the highest installation costs but has very high water use efficiency potential, saving large amounts of water while maximizing crop growth and yield.


Selecting the right irrigation system is essential for farm operations. This ensures that the crops are irrigated adequately while protecting the soil quality and increasing yields. Sprinkler systems are suitable for larger-scale farming, while drip irrigation and soaker systems are better for orchards and vineyards. It’s important to consider factors such as soil type, crop type, climate, water source and availability of resources (funds and labour) when selecting the appropriate irrigation system. By choosing the right irrigation system, farmers can optimize crop growth and reap the benefits of the farm’s irrigation systems.

Read more:


  1. https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/20/4/1042
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0360544222007253
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308521X05000132
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/
  5. https://books.google.fr/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590123022005138
  7. https://www.frontiersin.org/
  8. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/15/2/1704
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378377422005984


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