logo

5 Irrigation Solutions for Industrial Farming in Hot Climates

Posted on 25 April 2020

,


Summary


In hot, arid and dry climates, irrigation is the main source of water for crops. This article discusses five micro irrigation solutions that are being effectively used in the Middle East where natural water resources, like rain and reservoirs, are scant.


Micro, or drip irrigation, is a method of low-volume irrigation that is popular within the wider Gulf region. It is a localized form of irrigation, where water is distributed under low pressure through a piped network, in a pre-determined pattern. Drip irrigation systems deliver water through individual emitters, a subsurface drip delivery system, or through micro-spray/ micro-sprinklers.


Water is distributed through various methods that each have distinct advantages and disadvantages. In sprinkler or overhead irrigation, water is piped to one or more central locations within the field and distributed by overhead high-pressure sprinklers or guns. Some significant advantages of this type of irrigation include mobility and ease of access. Other systems include sub-soil methods. 


Additionally, suggestions relating to desalination, use of smarter, AI-assisted irrigation systems and better monitoring are recommended for the future. 


Index


An overview of industrial farming in hot climates

5 irrigation solutions for industrial farming:

1 Micro Sprinkler

2 sprinkler Irrigation

3 Irrigation by Wheel Move

4 Sub-irrigation

5 Subsurface Textile Irrigation

Analysis of Current Irrigation Methodologies and Suggestions for the Future


Under regular climatic conditions, agriculture can be almost effortless. However, with harsher climates, it becomes extremely difficult to conduct industrial farming at a large scale.  


Within the Arabian Peninsula, summer temperatures reach as high as 55 degrees Celsius in places. On account of scant and irregular cycles of annual rainfall, agriculture is sustained through large-scale irrigation solutions. 


An Overview of Industrial Farming in Hot Climates


While temperatures within the Arabian Peninsula are not conducive to agriculture, there has been considerable investment in the sector to raise it to an industrial level, with particular regard to certain foods. This is largely on account of countries within the Gulf, Saudi Arabia especially, shifting to agricultural practices that promote self-sufficiency, while preserving natural resources. 


As governments’ responsibilities to increasing, and better-informed populations grow, the pressures on agriculture are manifold. 

By 2050 there will be 60% more people on the planet, meaning that the demand for food will be higher than it has ever been before. And due to climate change, there will be fewer resources to make that food. 


This means that any arable land on the planet within any country’s borders has to be cultivated to produce food – not just for its own population, but for people worldwide. 


Characteristics of Sub Saharan Land 


a. Hot and dry climate with low precipitation

b. Sub-optimal, sandy soils with low fertility and high soil salinization

c. Water scarcity for use across agriculture

d. Limited varieties of climate-adapted seeds

e. High incidence of animal diseases and agricultural pests


Efficient Use of Water for Agriculture 


Despite technological advances, use of more temperature-resistant seed varieties, and genetically modified organisms, the correct and timely irrigation of plants is still the most important factor determining agricultural productivity.


Water needs to be regularly available for steady crop growth. However, in extreme environments, water is either inaccessible or completely absent.

In addition to revegetating soils in dry areas with little rainfall, timely irrigation helps with frost protection, effectively curbing weed growth and soil consolidation. Used with correct drainage methodologies, irrigation is the main source of water in the Middle East as natural water resources like rain and reservoirs are rare. 

Irrigation Solutions for Industrial Farming


There are several methods of irrigation. They vary in how evenly, and how often water is supplied to plants. The two most popular irrigation methodologies applied to largescale industrial farming include: 


Surface irrigation: Employs the use of natural reservoirs and resources to distribute water through surface channels like canals. This kind of water distribution is only possible in areas with a reasonable amount of rain. 


Micro irrigation:  Often referred to as localized or drip irrigation, micro irrigation is a method of low-volume irrigation that is popular within the wider Gulf region where water resources remain scarce. 


Surface Irrigation in Hot Climates


As surface irrigation is only possible after periods of heavy rainfall that may result in flash floods of short durations, it is an irrigation method that is in limited use. Riverbeds are dry for the rest of the time. Part of the surface runoff percolates through the sedimentary layers in the valleys and recharges the groundwater, where some is lost through evaporation. 


While almost all agriculture in hot, arid sub Saharan areas is through irrigation, surface irrigation in some smaller-scaled farms is still practiced. These areas, however, are still additionally facilitated with irrigation. 


Drip Irrigation in Hot Climates


Localized irrigation, or trickle irrigation is a system where water is distributed under low pressure through a piped network, in a pre-determined pattern. Placed near a plant, the system distributes a small amount of water. 


Drip irrigation delivers water through individual emitters, a subsurface drip delivery system, or through micro-spray/ micro-sprinklers.  The idea is to apply the water to the plant as uniformly as possible, with minimal waste.