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42 Small Scale Irrigation Design

42 Small Scale Irrigation Design

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Published by Kazemi Seyed

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Published by: Kazemi Seyed on Oct 24, 2009
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42.Small-scale irrigation design
FieldboundariesOutletSimple bridgeCanalDivision structureDiversion or pumpDrainage lineDrainage lineCommand-areaboundaryRiver
Small-scale irrigation can be defined as irrigation, usually on small plots, in which small farmers havethe controlling influence, using a level of technology which they can operate and maintain effectively.Small-scale irrigation is, therefore, farmer-managed: farmers must be involved in the design processand, in particular, with decisions about boundaries, the layout of the canals, and the position of outletsand bridges. Although some small-scale irrigation systems serve an individual farm household, mostserve a group of farmers, typically comprising between 5 and 50 households.
Figure 1. A schematic plan view of a typical small-scale irrigation system
Small-scale irrigation covers a range of technologiesto control water from floods, stream-flow, or pumping:Flood cropping
Rising flood cropping (planted before the floodrises).
Flood/tide defence cropping (with bunds).
Stream diversion (gravity supply)
Permanent stream diversion and canal supply.
Storm spate diversion.
Small reservoirs.
Lift irrigation (pump supply)
From open water.
From groundwater.
Water requirements andirrigable area
Crops require a large amount of water for irrigation, and itis important to calculate water requirements accurately,both to design the supply canal and the pump (if any), andto check that enough water is available from the source.The amount of water required by a crop depends on thelocal environment, the climate, the crop and its stage ofgrowth, and the degree to which the crop may be stressed.This requirement may be expressed as a uniform depth ofwater over the area in millimetres per day (mm/d).
Irrigation requirements
Reference evapotranspiration (ET
) is the water use ofgrass (in mm/d) under standard conditions. Local esti-mates may be available from meteorological offices.Typical values are shown in Table 1. For most crops, thereference evapotranspiration at mid-season can be takenas a reasonable estimate of the peak water requirement.It is reasonable to assume that 70 per cent of averagerainfall is available to the crop; the net irrigation require-ment (I
mm/d ) can be estimated as:I
= ET
- (0.70 x P)where P (mm/d) is the average rainfall. If a personalcomputer is available, then the reference evapotrans-piration and net irrigation requirements can be estimatedconveniently and accurately using the FAO CROPWATprogram and the CLIMWAT database.Additional water has to be supplied to take account of field-application losses which, with surface irrigation, are typicallyabout 40 per cent, giving an application efficiency of 0.60.The field irrigation requirement (I
) can be estimated as:The field irrigation requirement represents the rate (inmm/d) at which water must be delivered to the field toprevent the crop suffering a shortage of water.
Design command area
The required canal discharge depends on the field area tobe irrigated (known as the 'command area'), and the waterlosses from the canal. For a design command area A (m
),the design discharge required Q (l/s) for irrigation hours (H)every day, is given by the field-irrigation requirementmultiplied by the area, divided by the time (in seconds):
Irrigation-canal losses
Water is lost from canals by seepage through the bed andbanks of the canal, leakage through holes, cracks and
Water-quantity estimates
Discharge may be measured using a float, a stopwatch,and tape (for a river), or a weir with a stick gauge (for asmall stream or borehole). Technical Brief No. 27 givesdetails of these methods.poor structures, and overflowing low sections of bank.The canal losses depend on the type of canal, materials,standard of construction and other factors, but are typi-cally about 3 to 8 litres per second (l/s) per 100 metres foran unlined earthen canal carrying 20 to 60 l/s. Lossesoften account for a large proportion of water requirementsin small-scale irrigation, and may be estimated by 'ponding'water in a trial length of canal, and then measuring thedrop-of-water level. When the water-surface width in thecanal is W metres, a drop of S millimetres per hourcorresponds to an average canal loss of:l/s per metre lengthWxS60x60
What design discharge is required for a canalto irrigate an area of 10 hectares in the semi-arid subtrop-ics, when the mean daily temperature is 30
C, and themean rainfall is 0.2 mm/d during the peak period (mid-season)? The canal is 800m long and is to operate for 12hours per day.Losses from a similar canal are measured as 48mm perhour with a water-surface width of 1.5m.ET
= 7.5 mm/d; (see Table 1)Hence the net irrigation requirement is:7.5 - (0.7 x 0.2) = 7.36 mm/d;and the field irrigation requirement is:7.36/0.60 = 12.3 mm/dCanal losses == 0.02 l/s per metre lengthA=10ha = 10 x 10 000 m
Q=12.3 x (10 x 10 000) + 800 x 0.02=28 + 16 = 44 l/sThis design discharge of 44 l/s should be compared withthe water available from the source. If less is available, thearea may need to be reduced, or the irrigation timeincreased.
Small-scale irrigation design
= I
- (0.70 x P)0.60 0.60Q=I
x A plus canal lossesH x 60 x 6048 x 1.560 x 6012 x 60 x 60
Q=discharge (m
 /s. Note: 1 m
 /s = 1000 l/s)A=wetted area (m
)R=hydraulic radius (m)( = wetted area/wetted perimeter)s=slope (fraction)n=Mannings roughness coefficient(commonly taken as 0.03 for smallirrigation canals)A design chart, such as Figure 3, can be used.For example, for a trapezoidal canal in clay soil with sideslopes of 1 to 1.5, a design discharge of 44 l/s, and aslope of 0.001 (or 1 m/km), use a bed-width (B) of 0.5 m,and a depth (D) of 0.25 m.
Canal design
Water may be conveyed from the source to the field byunlined or lined canal; pipeline; or a combination of the two.The unlined canal is the most common method in use.A typical cross-section of an unlined earthen canal forsmall-scale irrigation is shown in Figure 2. To minimizelosses, the canal banks should be built from clayey soiland constructed in layers, with each layer compactedusing heavy rammers.The required size of the canal can be decided usingManning’s formula:Q =
Table 1. Evapotranspiration (ET
) in mm per dayfor different agro-climatic conditions (FAO, 1977)
Mean daily temperature 
Humid - sub-humidSemi-aridArid
Humid - sub-humidSemi-arid - arid
in mm per day
A x R
x s
Figure 3. Discharges of trapezoidal canals
B = 0.6m, D = 0.3m
500100150B = 0.5m, D = 0.25mSlope (m/km)
B = 0.7m, D = 0.35mB = 0.8m, D = 0.4mB = 1m, D = 0.5mB = Bed-width D = Depth200250300350400450500
Compacted fill0.20 minimum freeboard(Note: The freeboard is the height from the design water-level to the top of the bank)WaterlevelD DepthBBed-width11.50.30mBank top
Figure 2. A typical cross-section of an unlined earthen canal
Small-scale irrigation design

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