What is Irrigation? – a Quick Overview

So, what is irrigation exactly? Most of us already have some type of understanding of the term, but I just wanted to write a brief summary about it. Irrigation is basically defined as the artificial distribution of water to the land to water crops, lawns, and landscapes. The two main uses of irrigation today are for agriculture and landscapes purposes. When we think of irrigation, many of us relate it to our automatic landscape irrigation systems used to water our yards. However, irrigation has a long history that started long before we started using the process to help maintain beautiful yards.

Thousands of years ago the Egyptians used irrigation to help water their crops. They dug trenches and channeled their water source (The Nile River) to help keep their food crops regularly watered so that during times of drought or low rainfall their crops would not suffer or die. They actually would divert flood water of The Nile to basins or lakes to store and then direct toward crops. These irrigation methods helped maintain an established society with a dependable food supply. Without the use of irrigation, many crops would have been lost and as a result many people could have starved to death.

The oldest known presence of irrigation was found in a valley near Peru and carbon-dating showed it to be from around 4,000 BC. This was obviously a type of agricultural irrigation used to water farmland and food crops. Archaeologists have found that many ancient societies have shown evidence of using some type of irrigation. Many Indian tribes have also been known to have used similar techniques to help create bountiful harvests.

In our modern era, most irrigation is now automated to cut out as much manual work as possible once installed. Current irrigation systems use controllers or timers and electric valves to turn on and off the water to certain sections or zones for a determined, programmed amount of time. Systems being automatic help landscape and crops receive the precise of water needed per day or per week. This helps cut down on waste, improves the yield of crops, and helps maintain healthy lawns and landscapes.

Irrigation has progressed just as everything else over the years, but the basic concept is essentially the same; managing the flow and distribution of water to keep our agricultural products healthy and keep our yards looking good.