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Module-20 Irrigation & Drainage Part-II

20.1 Functions of Irrigation water

The functions of soil moisture in plant growth are very important. Water and nutrients are the two most important requirements of the crop. Following are the main functions of irrigation water.
(1) It acts a solvent for the nutrients. Water forms the solution of the nutrients, and this

solution is absorbed by the roots. Thus, water acts as the nutrient carrier.
(2) The irrigation water supplies moisture which is essential for the life of bacteria beneficial

to the plant growth.

(3) Irrigation water supplies moisture which is essential for the chemical action within the

plant leading to its growth.

(4) Some salts present in soil react to produce nourishing food products only in the presence

of water.
(5) Water cools the soil and the atmosphere, and thus makes more favorable environment for

healthy plant growth.

(6) Irrigation water, with controlled supplies, washes out or dilutes salts in the soil. (7) It reduces the ha ard of soil piping. (8) It softens the tillage pans.

20.2 Preparation of land for irrigation

The land should be properly prepared before irrigation water is applied upon it. This can be done as follows.

(i) !emoval of thick "ungle, bushes etc., from the raw land. The roots of the trees should be

e#tracted and burnt. The land should thereafter be properly cleaned.

(ii) The land should be made level. $igh patches should be scraped and depression filled.

%nless this is done, water will fill the depression and duty may be too low.
(iii) (iv)

The land should be provided with regular slope in the direction of falling gradient. The land should be divided into suitable plots by small levees according to this method of irrigation to be practiced.

(v) &roper drainage measures should be adopted where the danger of water logging may

become eminent after the introduction of canal irrigation.

20.3 Classes and availa ilit! of soil water

Water present in the soil may be classified under three heads 'figure ().*+.
(1) ,ravitational water (2) -apillary water (3) $ygroscopic water

,ravitational water.

/ soil sample

saturated with water and left to drain the e#cess out by gravity holds on to a certain amount of water. The volume of water that could easily drain off is termed as the gravitational water. This water is not available for plants use as it drains off rapidly from the root one. -apillary water. the water content retained in the soil Figure ().*. -lasses of soil water after the gravitational water has drained off from the soil is known as the capillary water. This water is held in the soil by surface tension. &lant roots

gradually absorb the capillary water and thus constitute the principle source of water for plant growth.

$ygroscopic water. the water that an oven dry sample of soil absorbs when e#posed to moist air is termed as hygroscopic water. It is held as a very thin film over the surface of the soil particles and is under tremendous negative 'gauge+ pressure. This water is not available to plants.

The above definitions of the soil water are based on physical factors. Some properties of soil water are not directly related to the above significance to plant growth. These are discussed ne#t. Water may also be classified as unavailable, available and superfluous. This classification is based on the availability of soil water to plants.

20." #oil water constants

For a particular soil, certain soil water proportions are defined which dictate whether the water is available or not for plant growth. These are called the soil water constants, which are described below.
(1) Saturation capacity. This is the total water content of the soil when all the pores of the

soil are filled with water. It is also termed as the ma#imum water holding capacity of the soil. /t saturation capacity, the soil moisture tension is almost equal to ero.
(2) Field capacity. This is the water retained by an initially saturated soil against the force of

gravity. $ence, as the gravitational water gets drained off from the soil, it is said to reach the field capacity. /t field capacity, the macro pores of the soil are drained off, but water is retained in the micro pores. Though the soil moisture tension at field capacity varies from soil to soil, it is normally between *0*) 'for clayey soils+ to *01 'for sandy soils+ atmospheres.
(3) &ermanent wilting point. &lant roots are able to e#tract water from a soil matri#, which is

saturated up to field capacity. $owever, as the water e#traction proceeds, the moisture content diminishes and the negative 'gauge+ pressure increases. /t one point, the plant cannot e#tract any further water and thus wilts. Two stages of wilting points are recogni ed and they are.

Temporary wilting point. This denotes the soil water content at which the plant wilts at day time, but recovers during night or when water is added to the soil.

%ltimate wilting point. at such a soil water content, the plant wilts and fails to regain life even after addition of water to soil.

It must be noted that the above water contents are e#pressed as percentage of water held in the soil pores, compared to a fully saturated soil. Figure ().* e#plains graphically, the various soil constants2 the full pie represents the volume of voids in soil.

Figure ().* -lassification of soil water /s shown in Figure ().*, the available water for plants is defined as the difference in moisture content of the soil between field capacity and permanent wilting point. Field capacity and &ermanent wilting point. /lthough the pie diagrams in Figure ().* demonstrate the drying up of saturated soil pores, all the soil constants are e#pressed as a percentage by weight of the moisture available at that point compared to the weight of the dried soil sand sample.
(4) /vailable 3oisture. The difference in water content of the soil between field capacity and

permanent wilting point is known as available water or available moisture.

(5) !eadily available moisture. It is that portion of the available moisture that is most easily

e#tracted by plants, and is appro#imately 456 of the available moisture. The above mentioned soil7moisture constants for different types of soils are shown below in a tabular form. Types of Soil Sand Sandy loam <oam -lay loam Silty clay -lay Wilting -oefficient 8 : *) *1 *5 *4 Field -apacity 9 *8 (( (4 1* 15 /vailable Water 5 ; *( *8 *: *;

(6) 3oisture equivalent. This is an artificial moisture property of the soil and is used as an

inde# of the natural properties. 3oisture equivalent is used as a single factor to which the properties of soil can be related within reasonable limits. The moisture equivalent roughly equals field capacity for a medium te#tured soil. The relation between these are as follows 3oisture equivalent = Field capacity = *.; to ( permanent wilting point = (.4 $ygroscopic coefficient
(7) Soil73oisture >eficiency

Soil7moisture deficiency or field moisture deficiency is the water required to bring the soil moisture content of the soil to it field capacity. Dept$ of water stored in root %one and availa le to plants& In order to estimate the depth of water stored in the root one of soil containing water upto field capacity, let d be the depth of root one 'in metres+ and Fc be the field capacity 'e#pressed as ratio+. ?d = dry unit weight of soil ?w = unit weight of water -onsider unit area '* Sq. 3etre+ of soil area. Then Fc = Wt. of water retained in unit areaWt. of soil of unit area = Wt. of water retained in nit aread.1. d Wt. of water retained in unit area = >epth of water stored 'in depth d+ = metres

/ part of this depth of water will be available for evapo7transpiration. /vailable moisture depth 'dw+ is given by @Field capacity A Wilting coefficientB

Where, Sg = apparent specific gravity of soil = Fc = Field capacity, e#pressed as ratio = weight of water held b areaWeight of soil !er unit area Wc = wilting coefficient, e#pressed as ratio '(a)ple& The root one of an irrigation soil has dry weight of *5 kC0m 1 and a field capacity of 1)6. The root one depth of a certain crop, having permanent wilting percentage of ;6 is ).;m. >etermine 'a+ depth of moisture in the root one at field capacity 'b+ depth of moisture in the root one at permanent wilting point, and 'c+ depth of water available. #olution&
(a) >epth of water in root one at field capacity, per metre depth of soil

soil !er unit

(b) >epth of water in root one at permanent wilting point '&W&+, per metre depth of soil (") >epth of water available in root one, dw

20.* +i)iting soil )oisture conditions

It is essential to maintain readily available water in the soil if crops are to make satisfactory growth. The plant growth may be retarded if the soil7moisture is either deficient or e#cessive. If the soil moisture is only slightly more than wilting coefficient, the plant must e#pend e#tra energy to obtain it and the plant will not grow healthy. Similarly, e#cessive flooding fills the soil pores with water, thus driving out air. Since air is essential to satisfactory plant growth, e#cessive water supply retards plant growth. The optimum moisture percentage is thus that moisture corresponding to which optimum growth of plant takes place, as shown in figure ().(.

Figure ().(. <imiting soil moisture conditions

20., Dept$ and fre-uenc! of irrigation

/s e#plained earlier, available moisture is the moisture between wilting point and the field capacity. The readily available moisture is that moisture which is easily e#tracted by the plants, and is appro#imately 456 of the available moisture. /t any time, therefore, the moisture content in the soil should be between the field capacity and lower limit 'm +, of the readily available moisture, as shown in figure ().1.

Figure ().1 Frequency of irrigation

Thus, m is the ma#imum level upto which the soil moisture may be allowed to be depleted in the root one without fall in the yield. When watering is done, the amount of water supplied should be such that the eater content should be equal to the field capacity. Water will be gradually utili ed consumptively by plants after the water application, and the soil moisture will start falling. When the water content in the soil reaches the value m , fresh doses of irrigation may be done so that water content is again raised to the field capacity of the soil The frequency of irrigation is controlled by the amount of available water of contained in the root one of the soil and the consumptive use rate. If d is the root one depth in metres, F is the field capacity and m is the lower limit of readily available moisture content, the depth of water d to be given during each watering is found from the following e#pression, Doth F and m are the moisture contents to be e#pressed as the ratio. If - is the daily consumptive use rate, frequency of watering f is given by
u w c ) w ) C )

.i)e re-uired to irrigate a certain area

<et t be the time required to apply the desired water depth d to bring the water level in the soil from m to the field capacity F , over irrigation field of area /. If q is the discharge in the field channel, in cumecs, we have
) -

Where / is the area in square metres and d is the depth of water to be applied in metres, if, however, area / is e#pressed in hectares, we have

'(a)ple& /fter how many days will you supply water to soil 'clay loam+ in order to ensure efficient irrigation of the given crop, if

Field capacity of soil = (46 &ermanent wilting point = *86




>ry density of soil = *5 kC0m Effective depth of root one = 45 cm



>aily consumptive use of water for the given crop = ** mm.

#olution& /vailable moisture = field capacity A &ermanent wilting point = (47*8=*16

<et the readily available moisture be ;)6 of the available moisture. # !eadily available moisture = *1#).;=*).86 # m = (47*).8=*:.:6

$ence when irrigation water is applied, moisture is raised from *.:6 to (46. # >epth of water stored in root one, during each watering,

Thus, depth of water available for evapo7transpiration = **.9 cm >aily consumptive use of water = *.* cm # Watering frequency = **.90*.*=*).;( days or *) days

'(a)ple& /n irrigation field 8) m wide (5) m long has soil which has apparent specific gravity equal to *.5: and field capacity equal to ((6. The depth of root one is ).: m. If the irrigation is started when 4)6 of the available moisture has been used, compute 'a+ net depth of irrigation water required, and 'b+ time required to irrigate the field if the discharge in the field channel is () litres per second. #olution& 'a+ ,iven, F = ((6=).((2 S = *.5:2 d=).: m

3oisture content before start of irrigation, m= ).1#).((=).)::


'b+ >ischarge, q = ()lps = ()#*) #1:)) m 0hour = 4( m 0hour