Three basic requirements of agricultural production are soil, seed, and water. In addition, fertilisers, insecticides, sunshine, suitable atmospheric temperature, and human labour are also needed. Of all these, water appears to be the most important requirement of agricultural production. The application of water to soil is essential for plant growth and it serves the following functions.

  • It supplies moisture to the soil essential for the germination of seeds, and chemical and bacterial processes during plant growth.
  • It cools the soil and the surroundings thus making the environment more favourable for plant growth.
  • It washes out or dilutes salts in the soil.
  • It softens clods and thus helps in tillage operations.
  • It enables application of fertilisers.
  • It reduces the adverse effects of frost on crops.
  • It ensures crop success against short-duration droughts.

In several parts of the world, the moisture available in the root-zone soil, either from rain or from underground waters, may not be sufficient for the requirements of the plant life. This deficiency may be either for the entire crop season or for only part of the crop season. For optimum plant growth, therefore, it becomes necessary to make up the deficiency by adding water to the root-zone soil. This artificial application of water to land for supplementing the naturally available moisture in the root-zone soil for the purpose of agricultural production is termed irrigation.IRRIGATION AND WATER RESOURCES ENGINEERING

Irrigation water delivered into the soil is always more than the requirement of the crop for building plant tissues, evaporation, and transpiration. In some cases the soil may be naturally saturated with water or has more water than is required for healthy growth of the plant. This excess water is as harmful to the growth of the plant as lack of water during critical stages of the plant life. IRRIGATION AND WATER RESOURCES ENGINEERING

This excess water can be naturally disposed of only if the natural drainage facilities exist in or around the irrigated area. In the absence of natural drainage, the excess water has to be removed artificially. The artificial removal of the excess water is termed drainage which, in general, is complementary to irrigation.IRRIGATION AND WATER RESOURCES ENGINEERING

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