Explain various types of irrigation systems in India

Explain various types of irrigation systems in India. How can efficiency of applied water be increased in agriculture.

Various types of irrigation systems in India are as follows:

Traditional methods of irrigation
Canal irrigation

  • In India, irrigation of extensive areas is carried out by canals.
  • The main canal receives water from different sources such as reservoirs or rivers and branches further for irrigation.

Moat/Pulley system

  • The pulley system along with a rope and bucket is known as a moat.
  • Water is lifted out from the well by using a bucket attached to a rope which passes over the pulley. The rope is either pulled by man or by animals.
  • Water is directly taken out from wells and used to irrigate fields.

Persian wheel (Rahat system)

  • A Persian wheel is a simple water-lifting device.
  • It consists of a large wooden wheel with several buckets arranged on its outer rim. The whole arrangement is submerged in an open well.
  • The wheel is yoked to a pair of animals like bullocks. They move around in circles thus rotating the wheel and, in turn, the buckets.
  • The buckets dip in the well, collect water and empty it into an intricate network of channels which distribute water in the cropped area.

Swing basket method

  • The swing basket is an ancient water-lifting device.
  • It consists of a bamboo basket to which four ropes are attached.
  • Two people stand facing each other and swing the basket to fill in water.
  • The basket is raised and water is discharged in the crop field.


  • Dhekli is generally used to lift water from an unlined well, stream or pond.
  • It consists of a lever rod supported on a vertical post about which it can swing in a vertical direction.

Chain pump

  • The chain pump is used to lift water from a shallow well.
  • It is useful to lift water from a depth of about 6 metres.

Modern methods of irrigation
Basin irrigation

  • It is a kind of surface irrigation.
  • The land is surrounded with embankments in the form of a basin.
  • Basins are flooded with water.
  • It is used for crops which require a large amount of water to grow.

Furrow irrigation

  • It is a kind of surface irrigation.
  • Small channels or furrows are created along the field length between crop rows.
  • It is used for crops which do not require much water.

Drip irrigation

  • Water is supplied through perforated pipes.
  • Pipes are placed in rows between the plants close to the roots.
  • It is the best method for water scarce regions because a lot of water is saved.
  • It is used for fruit orchards, gardens and trees.

Sprinkle irrigation

  • Sprinklers or spray guns are attached to a large hosepipe at regular intervals to spray water.
  • It is suitable for all types of crops.

Increase in the efficiency of the applied water is often possible through the following measures:

  • Suitable crop selection
  • Proper irrigation scheduling
  • Effective irrigation techniques
  • Use of alternative sources of water for irrigation