Commercial Agricultural Irrigation Part 1: Selecting the Right Pump

Commercial Agricultural Irrigation Part 1: Selecting the Right Pump

Commercial Agricultural Irrigation Pump

There are several different types of irrigation, with some definitions being quite broad and others very specific such as agricultural irrigation. Irrigation enhances both the quality and quantity of agricultural crops and has been practiced for thousands of years. With the right combination of soil, sun, temperature, and water, plant life and agricultural crops can flourish.

Selecting the right type of pump for agricultural irrigation is a critical decision to ensure that the irrigation layout meets the exact requirements for the crop while optimizing irrigation efficiency.

The Importance of Pump Selection for Agricultural Irrigation

Farmers today require knowledge of many areas, including climatology, botany, soil properties, hydraulics, and engineering. Knowing how and when to irrigate is necessary for efficient agricultural irrigation. Making the best use of the water supply with the least impact on water quality is essential to save the owner money and minimize energy costs. Selecting the right type of pumps to use with the best system layout and irrigation equipment will provide the most efficient use of a water source.

Grundfos Irrigation Pump Solutions

Grundfos is the largest pump manufacturer in the world, with decades of experience in water supply pumps and irrigation solutions. The Grundfos product portfolio includes submersible pumps, end suction pumps, vertical turbine pumps, smart and digital dosing pumps, chemical feed, pressure boosting pumps, horizontal split case pumps, and variable frequency drives (VFD) to meet the needs of all irrigation groundwater and surface water systems. Grundfos offers the Paco pump line as well as Peerless pumps that provide irrigation solutions to farming communities.

Proper Pump Selection

Matching the right type of pump to the irrigation system while keeping flow pressure low with tight control is necessary to optimize irrigation efficiency and meet specific crop irrigation requirements. A farmer’s goal for irrigating crops is to supply water uniformly to make sure that every plant has the required amount of water while using the least amount of energy. Modern irrigation techniques with the right pumps help growers to achieve this goal.

To uniformly irrigate an entire field, it is best to divide the area into zones. A zone can be defined based on the type of crops, the irrigation need, or the type of soil. A single irrigation valve directs water through tubes or pipes to surface or subsurface irrigation products like sprinklers. Dividing a field into zones is often necessary as there is typically not enough available pressure and flow to irrigate an entire field at once. A mechanical or electrical controller can signal specific zones to turn on or off at specified times.

Selecting Irrigation Equipment

It is necessary to choose the irrigation equipment first, as different equipment could require various amounts of pressure and water, thus dictating the type of pump required. A controller is necessary to control pump performance and predefined periods of irrigation. A pump controller is necessary to achieve maximum efficiency with agricultural irrigation with programming features such as turning the pump and not irrigating when winds are high or in direct sunlight. Programming pumps to turn off periodically allows the soil to absorb water, which improves the infiltration rate and reduces runoff when engaged again later.

Computer-controlled pump systems with smart control and monitoring are becoming more widespread. Farmers are realizing the benefits of systems with rain sensors, soil moisture sensors, and weather data that all work together with pressure control for fully automated irrigation systems.

Water Source Considerations

The common perception of years past that water was an infinite resource has evolved to the harsh reality of today that water is a valuable resource that must be managed properly. Farmers must have sufficient access to water for successful agriculture, with sources being extracted from groundwater through wells or springs or from surface water drawn from lakes, rivers, reservoirs, or canals. Unconventional water sources include desalinated water, treated wastewater, drainage water, or reclaimed water.

Pump Selection for Agriculture Irrigation

Selecting the right type of pump depends on the location of the water source. When lifting water from underground, turbine pumps or deep well submersible pumps are designed to lift water several hundred feet, and various pump types can be used to draw surface water. Submersible pumps draw water from lakes or reservoirs with the advantage of reduced noise and theft protection as they are submerged. Oil-lubricated vertical turbine pumps are used in many North American farms where noise is not an issue and provide easy access for any service or repairs required on pump components or the motor.

The two most important elements to ensure water flow to the irrigation system are the crop’s need for water in the availability of water. Using more than one well when sourcing groundwater is recommended to minimize drawdown. Using several small pumps instead of one large pump can provide additional benefits with reduced aquifer drawdown, which reduces energy consumption with limited lifting height and prevents negative influences on the water source. When one pump is required to supply a wide range of flows due to different crop types and zones with different water requirements, a variable frequency drive (VFD) is a good choice.

Integrated Systems with Control Saves Energy and Costs

Choosing the right size of pump is important for successful irrigation and for energy efficiency to keep power consumption low and maintain system pressure. Pumps used for irrigation today are often integrated with the entire irrigation system, which requires pumps designed to match the entire system. When the pumps match the irrigation system, controls are used, and pressure is not any higher than it needs to be, operating costs are typically lowered. Maintaining the right flow and pressure in the pipes and at the nozzle allows for more water per kWh for energy savings, which is one of the highest costs for farmers.

Working with an experienced pump and process equipment supplier is the best way to select the right type of pump for all your irrigation needs. Illinois Process Equipment, IPE, is a leading Midwest supplier of quality pumps and process equipment, including the full Grundfos pump product line, Paco, and Peerless pumps.

IPE differs from other pump suppliers with our value-added services, including complete process system design, installation, testing, service, and support, as well as our technical knowledge and commitment to customer success. We offer energy audits and recommendations for the most efficient, productive, and safe irrigation pumping system. Contact us with any questions and for assistance in choosing the right type of pump for your agricultural irrigation needs.