Newswise — May 7, 2020 – All plants need water to grow well. And, water can be a limiting factor in good crop yields on farms. Relying on natural rainfall to come at the right time, in the right place, is an unreliable way to assure we have enough food to feed the world. The May 7th Sustainable, Secure Food blog explores advances in irrigation technologies through time – up until current day when every drop can be used efficiently.

According to blogger Sayantan Sarkar, “the Egyptians and Mesopotamians were the pioneers in irrigating their crops around 6000 BC. They dug trenches to guide the flooded waters of the Nile in Egypt, and the Euphrates in Mesopotamia for the field crops.”

Through Roman and Persian times, to the invention of the turbine in the 1940s, irrigation has improved over time.

In current day, sprinkler irrigation lets the water flow through a small opening, causing it to build pressure. “Water coming out with pressure breaks into smaller droplets and falls uniformly over the crops,” says Sarkar. “This is not unlike your showerhead, or the shower setting on a garden hose.”

Drip irrigation circulates water throughout the field in above- or below-ground pipes. The limited openings deliver water directly to the plants.

“There are pros and cons to each of these modern irrigation techniques,” says Sarkar. “The efficiency of surface irrigation systems (like canals, tube wells, etc.) is only around 40-75%, based on climatic conditions and soil type. Sprinkler irrigation efficiency ranges from 60-85% and drip irrigation efficiency is 80-95%.” Adding in scheduling and GPS technology makes irrigation even more efficient.

To read the full Sustainable, Secure Food blog:

This blog is sponsored and written by members of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America. Our members are researchers and trained, certified professionals in the areas of growing our world’s food supply, while protecting our environment. They work at universities, government research facilities, and private businesses across the United States and the world.

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