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Applicability, advantages and disadvantages of sprinkler irrigation


Sprinklers are suited best for sandy soil with high infiltration rates although they are adaptable to most soil types. The average application rate of the sprinklers (in mm/hour) is set lower than the basic infiltration rate of the soil so that surface ponding and runoff can be avoided. Sprinklers are not suitable for soils that easily form a crust or in case of risk of salinization. Moreover, they can easily clog with the presence of sediments or debris. If sprinkler irrigation is the only method available, light fine sprays should be used. Sprinklers producing larger water droplets should be avoided.


  • No terracing required
  • Suitable to all types of soil except heavy clay
  • Suitable for irrigating crops where the plant population per unit area is very high
  • Influences greater conducive micro-climate
  • Areas located at a higher elevation than the source can be irrigated
  • Possibility of using soluble fertilizers and chemicals


  • Incurs high operation expenses due to the energy needed for pumping, labour and relatively large investment in equipment: sprinklers and pipes
  • Sensitivity to wind, causing evaporation losses
  • The unavoidable wetting of foliage in field crops results in increased sensitivity to diseases
  • Debris and sediments can cause clogging
  • Capital cost is high with greater operational costs due to higher energy requirements

(Stauffer & Spuhler 2012c)