Flooding Irrigation : 2 Types of Flooding Irrigation ( Wild Flooding, Controlled Flooding, Basin Flooding & Contour Laterals)

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Flooding Irrigation is the type of surface irrigation in which the soil is kept submerged & is thoroughly flooded with water.

It is one of the most ancient irrigation methods of irrigation that is still used today.

It is common to release the water to the field until the field is covered with water.

About 50 % of the total water is lost during flooding irrigation.







  i. Types of Flooding Irrigation  

There are two types of flooding irrigation. They are:

a. Wild/Uncontrolled Flooding

b. Controlled Flooding


a. Uncontrolled Flooding  

~ In uncontrolled flooding; the water is spread or flooded into the field without control of water and preparation of land.

~ It is also called wild flooding.

~ The efficiency of this method depends upon the depth of flooding, the size of the stream, the rate of intake of water into the soil, and the topography of the field.



This method is suitable for inundation irrigation systems, pastures & forage crops and is inexpensive.

There should also be the availability of a sufficient amount of water.



1. Inefficient use of water.

2. Uneven distribution of water.

3. Over-irrigation causes the rise of the groundwater table.

4. Large percolation loss.


Uncontrolled Flooding  




b. Controlled flooding

~ In this type of flooding, water is applied to the land in a controlled manner. There is proper control of the flow as well as the quantity of water.


Controlled flooding



Types of controlled flooding

Controlled flooding is classified into the following types:

i. Free flooding

ii. Border flooding

iii. Check for flooding

iv. Basin flooding

v. Contour laterals

vi. The ZigZag method


i. Free flooding

~ Free flooding method is also known as irrigation by plots.

~ The field is divided into several plots of nearly equal levels and water is admitted to these plots at the higher end. The size of the plot depends upon the porosity of the soil.


Free flooding



This irrigation is suitable:

~ In the area having a sufficient amount of cheap water.

~ Relatively flat field



~ The initial cost of land preparation is less.



~ High labor requirement

~ Water application efficiency is low


ii. Border Strip Method or Border Flooding

In Border Flooding; the agricultural farm is divided into a series of strips. Strips are about 10-20 m wide and 100-400 m long.

The land is leveled perpendicular to the flow to prevent the concentration of water on either side of the border.


Border Strip Method or Border Flooding



~ Suitable for all close-growing crops

~ Suitable for row crops & orchards.



~ Requires less labour & time.

~ Low maintenance cost.

~ Utilizes a large volume of water from the stream to the irrigation field safely.



~ High initial cost

~ Requires proper leveling

~ Requires a huge amount of water


iii. Check Flooding

~ Check flooding is similar to ordinary flooding or free flooding except that water is controlled by surrounding the check area with flat & low levees.

~ If the ground has some initial slope, levees may follow the contour. It is suitable to irrigate food & grain crops in heavy soil.


Check Flooding



~ This method is suitable for both permeable and impermeable soil. If soil is permeable, water can be spread easily without any percolation losses. If the soil is impermeable, water can be held for a long time.



~ High irrigation efficiency can be achieved.

~ Unskilled labor can be employed.



~ Large numbers of laborers are required.

~ Levees restrict the use of modern machinery.


iv. Basin flooding

It is a special type of check flooding. This method of irrigation is used to irrigate orchards & large trees. One or more trees are generally placed in the basin & the surface is flooded as in the check method.


Basin flooding



~ It is suitable for orchards and trees.



~ Less labor.

~ Less maintenance cost.

~ Provide efficient use of water.



~ High initial cost.

~ A large quantity of water is needed.

~ Requires leveling.


v. Contour laterals

This method is best suited to steeper terrain. The field is cut by a relatively dense network of contour laterals.

The space of contour laterals depends upon the grade of land, uniformity of slope & type of soil.


Contour laterals



~ For close-growing crops on slopy land.



~ It can be used in all types of soils

~ Low cost



~ Inefficient use of water.

~ Uneven distribution of land

~ Over-irrigation

~ Large percolation


vi. Zigzag method

The Zigzag method is a special method of controlled flooding where water applied to the land takes a circuitous route, starting from the field channel and reaching the dead end of each plot.

For this purpose, the whole farm is divided into several square (or rectangular) plots. Each plot is provided with levees ( or small bunds ) such that the water takes the circulation path covering the entire plot.

The Zigzag method is quite suitable for relatively level plots. However, the method is not suitable when the farming operations are to be done with modern farm machinery.


Zigzag method




  3. References  

1. Content Filter & Authenticity Checking Team, Dream Civil International

(Our team checks every content & detail to maintain quality.)




Read More: Furrow Irrigation


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