Agricultural Irrigation

James Adkins’s opening statement of “while only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated, it produces 40% of our food supply” really makes one think about the huge importance of water. India uses 90% of its freshwater supply for agricultural irrigation. That means almost 1/5 of their electricity supply is used just for irrigation. In the United States, almost half of the farmland is irrigated with flood irrigation. Flood irrigation is a method used in ancient cultures and could be considered a very primitive way of irrigation; it uses pipes or ditches to move water through the ground to crops. This method is effective but not efficient nor sustainable. However, 43% of California’s farmland still uses this method rather than drip irrigation. Here in Delaware, 30% of farmland is irrigated. A few popular methods for irrigation would be drip irrigation or center pivot irrigation. Drip irrigation is easy to control and monitor but is hard for large fields. Drip irrigation is best for smaller fields or orchards. In large fields, center pivot irrigation is most commonly used. With center pivot it is harder to control the amount of water and accuracy leading it to a less sustainable and efficient option; research and technology updates help to increase the accuracy of center pivot irrigation. Water, of course, is vital to all living species and it is not a renewable source, so we must figure out how to use it most efficiently and effectively. The technology of irrigation has done just that and will continue to grow and improve.

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