Pump selection for irrigated agriculture

Page last updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2016 - 10:15am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Selecting the correct pump for an irrigation system will not only result in better crop production, but save money on running costs over its life.  A poor pump choice may result in damage to the system, increase power used and poor performance of the irrigation system supplying water to your crop.   Some key points should be known prior to selecting a pump and it is often worth consulting a professional when investing in an irrigation pump.

Irrigation Pumps

Irrigation pumps are used to create pressure and flow within an irrigation system. The maximum pressure and flow required is determined from an irrigation design, allowing the most suitable pump to be selected. Correct irrigation design and pump selection will provide good irrigation uniformity; with even application of both water and nutrients via the irrigation system.

There is a large selection of pumps with a wide range of specifications which is why irrigation designers will leave pump selection until last.

Before a pump is selected the following should be known:

  • The volume and maximum abstraction rate of the water source supplying the system (this should be known before a design is done).
  • The flow required by the irrigation system.
  • The pressure required to operate the system (total dynamic head), including all losses caused by friction from pipes, fittings, valves, elevation and the pressure to operate the emitters.
  • Whether the source of water will be above or below the pump.
  • The source of energy to power the pumps motor.

The flow rate and pressure requirements of a pump, are known as the ‘pump duty’.

The three main types of pumps commonly used in irrigation systems in Western Australia are:

  • Centrifugal pumps powered by electric or combustion (diesel) motors.
  • Electric submersible pumps.
  • Turbine pumps powered by electric or diesel motors.

Pump selection for irrigated agriculture