Furrow method of irrigation is one of the surface irrigation methods. Straight furrows and contour furrows are its subdivisions. I will explain the important details about each of them. Also, we will find out the construction method and advantages of furrow irrigation in the blog.

Furrow Method of Irrigation- One of the Types of Surface Irrigation
Furrow Method of Irrigation- One of the Types of Surface Irrigation

So, without any due let’s look into the basics of furrow method of irrigation.

What is furrow method of irrigation?

In this section, you will get the answer of what is furrow irrigation.

  • The furrow method of irrigation is very much used for row crops like maize, jowar, sugarcane, cotton, tobacco, groundnut, potatoes etc.
  • In this method only one half to one fifth of the surface is wetted, and thus evaporation losses are very much reduced
  • A furrow consists of a narrow ditch between rows of plants.

Let’s dig deep now.

  • The length of furrows varies from 3m or less for gardens to as much as 500 m for field crops, the common length being 100 to 200 m.
  • If the furrows are of excessive length, deep percolation losses and soil erosion near the upper end of the field may result.
  • The general slopes provided for furrows may vary from 0.2 to 6%.
  • A minimum furrow grade of 0.05% is needed to assure surface drainage.
  • Furrow spacing for corn, potatoes, sugarcane and other row crops is determined by the proper spacing of the plant rows, one irrigation furrow being provided for each row.
  • The spacing of furrows is kept from 1 to 2 m in orchard irrigation. If the spacing is kept more, it is essential to check the distribution of moisture after each watering by auger boring.
  • For soil of low permeability, the depth of furrows may vary from 20 to 30 cm.
  • It is essential in irrigating the root crops to have furrows deep enough, and the stream in each small enough so that water can’t come in contact with the plant.
  • The common size of furrow for row crops such as cotton, tobacco and potatoes is about 25cm wide and 8 to 10cm deep.

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That’s it about the general details of furrow method of irrigation. Let me show you the types now.

Type of furrow irrigation

Depending upon the alignment, furrows may be of two types.

  1. Straight furrow
  2. Contour furrow

Straight furrow

  • Straight furrows are used where the land slope is nominal.
  • These are aligned more or less along straight lines parallel to each other, and along the slope of the land.
  • These are normally adopted where the slopes do not exceed 0.6%.

Contour furrow

  • Contour furrows are practically laid along the contours. Therefore, these are not straight, but are curvilinear in plan.
  • With contour furrows irrigation, the direction of flow is across a sloping field rather than down the slope to reduce water velocity.
  • The furrows are laid out with enough grade to carry the irrigation streams. Head ditches are run across the slope or downhill using drop structures as needed, to feed the individual furrow.
  • Contour furrows method can be successfully used in nearly all irrigable soil.
  • Light soils can be irrigated successfully across sloped up to 5 percent. Where the soils are stable and will not be cultivated, slopes up to 20 percent can be irrigated by contour furrowing.

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Stored the details in brain, right? Let me walk you through the construction method of furrows now.

Construction of furrow method of irrigation

Furrow Irrigation
Furrow Irrigation
  • Furrows are made before planting, at the time of planting or after the plants have grown large enough not be covered up.
  • The time of furrowing depends upon the crop grown and the method of planting used.
  • Often young plants are irrigated by small furrows until a good root system is developed. Thereafter, the furrow is made larger.
  • The furrows at any stage must be large enough to carry the water needed for irrigation.
  • In most soils, crops are grown on the top of the ridge while in deep sand, it is better to have the seeding near the bottom of the small furrow.
  • Alternate method specially adopted to sandy soils is to transplant vegetables in the furrow, irrigate it once or twice and then establish furrows between the rows after plants have grown larger.
  • Furrows are made with various cultivating tools depending on the type of crop to be grown.
  • Large furrows are normally made with a double mould board plough or lister.
  • A wooden plough with furrower attachment can also be used in place of listers. Disc-drum corrugator furrower is very useful to make small size furrows in sandy soil.

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Time to have some positivity. Advantages of furrow method of irrigation are given in the next section.

Advantages of furrow irrigation

irrigating plants
Irrigating plants
  • In the furrow irrigation, water contacts only 1/5 to ½  of the land surface, thereby reducing pudding and crusting of the soil. Evaporation losses are also reduced.
  • Earlier, cultivation is possible in heavy soil and may be adapted to use without erosion on a wide range of natural slope by carrying furrows across a sloping field rather than down the slope.
  • It is especially suitable for those crops that are injured by contact with water.
  • Labour requirements in land preparation and irrigation are very much reduced.
  • There is no wastage of land in field ditches

Liked the concept of furrow method of irrigation? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Happy learning!