As the world’s population continues to increase at a fast pace, more food and water will be needed to sustain humanity, writes Mark Trapolino at Sensors Online. In the past 50 years, we have tripled our need for water and food, and there are no signs of this trend slowing down. Because of these conditions, smart, innovative agricultural practices are needed now more than ever. Technology can, and already does, aid agriculture in innumerable ways. One prominent part of agriculture that can use technological innovation to increase efficiency and effectiveness is irrigation.
Irrigation is the method in which a controlled amount of water is supplied to plants at regular intervals for agriculture. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall. Additionally, irrigation also has a few other uses in crop production, which include protecting plants against frost, suppressing weed growth in grain fields and preventing soil consolidation. Irrigation systems are also used for dust suppression, disposal of sewage, and in mining. Irrigation is often studied together with drainage, which is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given area. Irrigation has been a central feature of agriculture for over 5,000 years and is the product of many cultures. Historically, it was the basis for economies and societies across the globe, from Asia to the Southwestern United States.