Surface irrigation is a method of delivering water to crops using gravity. i.e. water starts running from a higher ground to lower ground. It is the most common irrigation practice being used over thousand years. Water is applied to soil surface and distributed by gravity. water infiltrates the soil while flowing over the field surface.
Three most common forms of surface irrigation are
- Basin irrigation: Basin irrigation is the most common form of surface irrigation, particularly in regions with layouts of small fields. If a field is level in all directions, encompassed by a dyke to prevent runoff and provides an undirected flow of water onto the field, it is referred to as basin
- Border irrigation: Border irrigation is a type of surface irrigation where the field is divided into strips separated by border ridges running down the gradient of the field. The area between the ridges is flooded during irrigation.
- Furrow irrigation: Furrow irrigation is a method of laying out the water channels in such a way where gravity plays the role of providing just enough water for suitable plants
Surface irrigation has a very low capital cost but is difficult to design and manage. The challenge with surface irrigation is that it can be inefficient and can waste water.