What Is Tank Irrigation

by | Jan 18, 2024

What is Tank Irrigation

Tank irrigation is the type of irrigation in which artificially constructed tanks are used to store excess water for irrigation. Tanks are generally constructed in downstream regions which are easily accessible to the agricultural land.

CC: Shutterstock

Tank irrigation has been practiced in India since time immemorial. Right from the grand bath of the Harappa Valley civilisation to the tank built in the first century BCE in Sringaverapura, close to Prayagraj, tank irrigation has been proficiently utilised by our ancestors.

Tank irrigation can be extremely useful to farmers even in the present day. Tanks are usually constructed and managed by villagers. They are water bodies that can hold enough water to irrigate over 100 hectares of cropland which can have immense value in drought-like conditions.

How Tank Irrigation Works

Tank irrigation is a method of supplying water to land and crops using artificial reservoirs, or tanks, as the primary water source. This system is particularly suitable for arid and semi-arid areas with low precipitation and depleted aquifers. 

Tank irrigation systems use tanks, piping, and gates to store and distribute water. The design of these systems takes into account factors such as:

  • Irrigation water use
  • Available hydraulic load
  • Topographic characteristics
  • Soil characteristics

Tank irrigation eliminates many issues such as water source contamination and the impact of poor maintenance on water quality. In tank irrigation, improved results have been witnessed due to the usage of advanced materials such as corrosion-resistant steel. 

Additionally, tank irrigation systems can easily collect rainwater and maintain water quality. In places where there is less rainfall, this becomes a dependable source of water for people living in homes and farmers based in farms.

Components Of A Tank Irrigation System

The key components of a tank irrigation system include:

1. Tanks or Reservoirs

Tanks or reservoirs are the storage units of water. They are used to hold the desired amount of water and keep it free from contamination.

2. Gate or valve

Gates work together to store and distribute water for agricultural purposes. 

3. Filter

It filters unwanted particles from the water before it is supplied to the agricultural fields.

4. Piping

Piping systems are used to navigate water through the irrigation system without leaks. Pipes are usually divided into lines and sub-mainlines which originate from a single mainline.


Comparison Of Tank Irrigation With Some Other Irrigation Methods

Tank irrigation has been shown to achieve irrigation efficiencies of over 75% compared to other irrigation methods, this is a huge improvement. This system is cost-effective along with low operational and maintenance costs. Through tank irrigation one can surely get an economically beneficial and long-lasting water flow solution to perform relevant tasks.

Tank irrigation provides a good amount of water supply and allows good management of water resources. Tank irrigation offers various advantages over other methods of irrigation, such as:

  • Suitability for arid and semi-arid areas
  • High irrigation efficiencies
  • Low operation and maintenance costs

Unlike some other methods, tank irrigation eliminates the risk of water source contamination and can easily collect and maintain water quality. Tank irrigation mechanism is important because it ensures that even throughout the year, water is readily available in areas where there are varying water requirements.

Types of Tank Irrigation

Tank irrigation can be utilised in various ways in order to get the best results. There are multiple types of tank irrigation depending upon the delivery of water and the reservoir or tank created. Let us discuss some of the most popular types of tank irrigation:

1. Sprinkler Irrigation

Sprinkler watering is when sprinklers are used to spread the water across a field. Sprinklers can be put on the ground or in a system above your head. They can be set up to give water at certain times and speeds.

CC: Agrivi

Water goes to the sprinklers through many pipes. The sprinklers then spread the water on the field, just like rain. This system has good things like equal water sharing, less waste of water, and big crop harvests.

2. Drip Irrigation

Drip or trickle irrigation is a new way to water plants in fields. It slowly and carefully puts water on the roots using pipes and tubes. This way takes water straight to the roots of plants and stops most water loss because it doesn’t evaporate, run off, or fly away.

                                                                                                     CC: Pipelife

In a drip watering system, little holes or sprayers are set up on the pipes. Water is then let out slowly through them in measured amounts.

3. Ditch Irrigation

Ditch Irrigation is a kind of old way, where ditches are made and plants get put in lines. The plants get water by digging channels or grooves between their rows. They use tubes to shift water from the big ditch into canals.

  CC: TWL Irrigation

4. Furrow Irrigation

In furrow irrigation, small paths or trenches are made between the rows of plants. Water can flow through these channels to water and feed the crops.

CC:Freie Universitat Berlin

The water runs through these channels and soaks into the ground, giving moisture to plant roots. This watering system is a smart and cheap method to give crops the right amount of moisture.

5. Basin Irrigation

In basin irrigation, water runs through drains made to connect these platforms while wetting the ground. This method isn’t right for farming crops; it can help water tall trees and bushes instead. Clay or concrete is used to make a platform near this plant life.

CC: TWL Irrigation

6. Well And Tube

Well and tube irrigation is the most common way to water land in India. The type of water supply is often used in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu. Other areas use it too. 


Deep wells are better for irrigation than shallow ones because they don’t run dry in times with less rain. In another situation, if there’s water under the ground, we use a tube kind of well to give lots of land something called irrigation.

These watering techniques are easy to use, not very costly, and can be used on their own. They can also be used anytime it is possible.

7. Centre Pivot Irrigation

In centre-pivot Irrigation, a moving arm gives water to the plants in circles. This is a very good way to water plants that can be set up for perfect use of water.


It’s called that because the water system moves in circles around a middle point, looking like a big arm with sprinklers attached.

This water system helps give just the right amount of water and stops too much from being wasted.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Tank Irrigation

Tank irrigation has several advantages. It also has some disadvantages that should be considered before implementing this method. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of tank irrigation:


1. Water conservation:

Tank irrigation systems collect and store rainwater, allowing farmers to conserve water and use it during dry periods.

2. Flexibility:

Tank irrigation systems can be used for irrigation at any time, providing a reliable water source for crops.

3. Cost-effective:

Tank irrigation systems can be a cost-effective solution. They reduce the dependence on municipal water supply, thus reducing water bills.

4. Enhancing soil moisture:

Tank irrigation can help enhance soil moisture, leading to better crop yields.


Suitable for small-scale farming:

Tank irrigation systems are suitable for small-scale farming. They make it accessible to small farmers.

1. Limited water supply:

Tank irrigation systems rely on rainwater or other sources of water, which may not be sufficient during dry periods or droughts.

2. High maintenance:

Tank irrigation systems require regular cleaning and maintenance. This is to prevent sedimentation and ensure proper functioning.

3. Limited to small scale:

Tank irrigation systems may not be suitable for large-scale farming as they require a significant amount of space to store water.

4. Risk of contamination:

Tank irrigation systems may be at risk of contamination if not properly maintained and cleaned.

5. Space requirement:

Tank irrigation systems require a significant amount of space to store water. This may not be feasible for some farmers who have limited space on their property.


The fact that tank irrigation has been in use since time immemorial testifies to its utility and superiority over relatively new traditional irrigation systems. Besides, its versatility allows the user to adjust the system according to their budget without compromising on efficiency.

Now that we have established the utility of tank irrigation, we must encourage more and more agriculturists to use this method in order to prevent drought destruction of crops and manage water cost-effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is meant by tank irrigation?

Tank irrigation is the type of irrigation in which artificially constructed tanks are used to store excess water for irrigation. Tanks are generally constructed in downstream regions which are easily accessible to the agricultural land.

2. Why tank irrigation is widely used?

Tank irrigation is widely used due to its simplicity and high effectiveness. Tanks are usually constructed and managed by villagers. They are water bodies that can hold enough water to irrigate over 100 hectares of cropland which can have immense value in drought-like conditions.

3. What are the main features of tank irrigation?

The main features of tank irrigation are:

1. Suitability for arid and semi-arid areas
2. High irrigation efficiencies
3. Low operation and maintenance costs

Bhuwan Bhatia

Bhuwan Bhatia

Bhuwan Bhatia, an engineering graduate with a diverse background, has been passionate about entrepreneurship since age 13. Founder of edtech startup Technoshaala, Bhuwan now focuses on leading his innovative water management startup, FLOTAA, in Kanpur to create sustainable solutions.
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