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What are the Different Types of Irrigation Equipment?

H.R. Childress
H.R. Childress

Many kinds of landscaping and agriculture can require irrigation, including lawns, golf courses, gardens, and large fields of agricultural crops. Various types of irrigation equipment are available to cater to the entire spectrum of irrigation needs. These can range from simple sprinkler equipment for residential landscaping to large center-pivot irrigation systems for watering acres of crops.

The irrigation equipment most familiar to many people is that used for lawns and residential landscaping. A garden hose is the simplest, and probably the most widely used, piece of home irrigation equipment. One of several types of sprinkler heads is often attached to the hose in order to irrigate a wider area.

An automatic sprinkler.
An automatic sprinkler.

An impact sprinkler head sprays out a stream of water while moving in a circle. There are also pop-up impact sprinklers, which can be withdrawn into the ground when they are not being used. Like the impact sprinkler, oscillating sprinklers move around to distribute water, but they spray out a fan of water which moves back and forth. Stream rotors and spray heads are stationary sprinkler heads. The stream rotor sprays out streams of water in all directions, while spray heads may be adjusted to spray in all directions or only towards one or two areas.

While sprinklers spray water through the air, leading to lost water because of evaporation, methods classified as micro-irrigation apply water under the soil or directly to its surface. Drip irrigation equipment is composed of a tube with drip emitters inserted at desired locations along it, which apply water close to the roots of the plants. A similar but less permanent option is drip tape, which is a very thin type of drip tubing that is designed to be replaced after one or two years of use.

Microsprayers are a very small type of sprinkler attached to very thin drip tubing, sometimes called spaghetti tubes. They are an option somewhere in between conventional sprinklers and drip irrigation. A microsprayer can cover more area than drip irrigation, and is more efficient than a full-sized sprinkler, as it is closer to the ground and thus has less evaporation loss.

Large agricultural fields require different types of irrigation systems than those used by home gardeners. The irrigation equipment used in these fields typically consists of some type of framework to support many sprinkler heads or nozzles, the heads or nozzles, and the pumps and pipes necessary to deliver the water. Common irrigation systems for these uses include center-pivot, in which the irrigation equipment moves in a circle around a central point, and linear move, which moves the system in straight lines.

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    • An automatic sprinkler.
      By: Jose Manuel Gelpi
      An automatic sprinkler.