Where Is Furrow Irrigation Most Commonly Used? Complete Guide!

Furrow irrigation is applying water to narrow trenches that run parallel to crops. It is suitable for a wide range of crops and vegetables. Furrow irrigation allows rapid mass area irrigation. The method is time and labor-saving. For which purposes are furrow irrigation most applicable?

Furrow irrigation is beneficial when roots need regulated water contact. It is more appropriate whenever water contact damages other parts of plants. Growing tree crops is also possible with furrow irrigation. It is beneficial for row crops as well.

Who Uses Furrow Irrigation?

Furrow irrigation is a surface irrigation technique that farmers have used for ages. Flood irrigation is another name for surface irrigation. 

The main advantage of furrow irrigation is minimal pumping costs. Other than land grading, the initial capital investment in buying equipment is low. Due to the lack of direct watering, crop foliage is less susceptible to scalding.

How And When To Use Furrow Irrigation?

The Main Factors To Consider When Setting Up A Furrow Irrigation System

Before establishing the irrigation system, determine the soil type, suitable crops, and slopes

Suitable Crops

Sugarcane, soybeans, maize, and sunflowers are suitable row crops for furrow irrigation. Wheat and fruit trees like citrus and grapes can also enjoy this method.

Furrow irrigation is appropriate for crops vulnerable to inundation. Some examples include tomatoes, cucumbers, and potatoes.

Suitable Slopes

Furrow irrigation prefers uniform, flat, or gentle slopes that do not exceed 0.5%. Clay soil can have a gentle slope of 0.05% to assist drainage after irrigation or excessive rainfall. 

Based on the type of soil, determine the slope angle during construction. Furrows should follow the contours of undulating land.

Suitable Soils

Soil types like clay, loamy, and silty are well suited to furrow irrigation. Very coarse sands are not suitable, as percolation losses can be significant.

Furrow irrigation works well with easy-to-crust soils. It prevents water from flowing over the ridge. As a result, the ground where the plants grow is still loose.


How Can I Plan My Furrow Irrigation System?

Factors To Keep In Your Mind When Designing Furrow Irrigation System

Layout your irrigation system by determining the furrows’ shape, length, and spacing. Identify the key factors that affect and alter these parameters.

Length Of The Furrow

The following factors affect the furrow length.


To prevent soil erosion, the slope of the furrow should not exceed 0.5%. Lands with steep slopes can allow them to be longer. It is also possible for them to be level, like lengthy narrow basins. 

The least recommended grade for efficient drainage is 0.05%. You can set the furrow at an angle to the main slope if the land slope is steeper than 0.5%. 

You can also set them along the contour to keep furrow slopes within the recommended limits. The slant of the mainland should not exceed 3% for this method to work. Terracing steep ground and cultivating furrows along them can be helpful.

Soil Type

Sandy soils have rapid water infiltration. Keep furrows short. It will help water reach the downstream end with minimal percolation losses. Clay soils have a lower infiltration rate than sandy soils. Compared to sandy soils, clay soils allow for much longer furrows.

Stream Size

Larger stream sizes result in longer furrows. Stream flows of up to 0.5 liters per second can provide adequate irrigation. Keep the water flow below 3 liters per second to prevent soil erosion. Furrow slope affects the maximum stream size that won’t cause eroding.

Irrigation Depth

The deeper the furrow, the longer it can be due to the extra water it can contain.

Cultivation Practice

Due to frequent changes in flow, short furrows need a great deal of attention. Irrigation of short channels is more efficient. They are easy to keep percolation losses low. 

Field Length

Field lengths are sometimes shorter than the longest furrows. This difference is common as furrow lengths often fit field boundaries. Making the furrow length equal to the field length is a more practical solution.

Shape Of The Furrow

Soil type and stream size determine the shape of furrows.

Soil Type

In sandy soil, narrow, deep V-shaped furrows reduce water percolation. The shape creates less bottom area than the lateral surface. 

Wide, shallow furrows are suitable for clay soils. Their infiltration rate is lower compared to sandy soils.

Stream Size

Furrows should be large and deep if the water flow is high.

Spacing Of The Furrow

Soil type and cultivation practice affect the spacing of furrows.

Soil Type

Differences in the depth of the furrows caused by soil types affect spacing. The spacing should be between 30 and 60 cm for sandy soils. For coarse sand, this is 30 cm, and for fine sand, it is 60 cm. 

The spacing between two adjacent furrows on clay soils should be between 75 and 150 cm. You can also use double-ridged channels or beds on clay soils.

Cultivation Practice

There should be a balance between machinery and crop spacing in automated farming. Maintaining a standard width between the furrows will help the machinery. Ensure that all soil types receive appropriate lateral wetness at the standard spacing.

Furrow Construction

Ridger is the most common tool to construct furrows. There are animal- and hand-drawn ridgers. Constructing furrows along the contour on sloping or undulating land needs care.

Irrigating Furrows

You can supply water to each furrow from the field canal using siphons or spiles. Sometimes you can use a gated pipe instead of them.

Prevent excessive runoff by reducing the inflow. Do it once the irrigation water has reached the furrow end. (cut-back irrigation). For effective outcomes, use the proper wetting patterns.

Planting Techniques

  • The plants should stand on top of the ridge in areas with heavy rainfall. It will help prevent waterlogging damage.
  • Put the plants in the furrow itself if there is not enough water.
  • Grow a crop distant from the ridgetop on saline soils. Salts accumulate at the highest point.
  • Plant the seeds on the sunny side of the ridge for winter and early spring crops in colder areas.
  • Plant the seeds on the shady side of the ridge in hotter areas.

Maintenance Of Furrows

During irrigation, ensure water flows through all furrows to the downstream end. Avoid overtopping of ridges. Weed the field channels and drains. Avoid any dry regions or areas where water may collect.

Which Type Of Irrigation Is Best For Wheat?

Drip and sprinkler irrigation systems are most suitable for wheat. Drip irrigation can increase wheat root length, weight, and aboveground biomass accumulation. These systems are helpful as they apply modest amounts of water.

Similar Posts