Keys To Building a Good Irrigation Pond

June 21, 2024
Irrigation pond liner

Irrigation ponds play an important role in managing water resources, delivering a consistent supply for crops and livestock, and serving as a buffer during periods of drought. 

But an irrigation pond is more than just a hole in the ground. A good pond needs a good plan. Here are some things to consider when building your pond.

What is an Irrigation Pond?

An irrigation pond is a water body created to support agricultural activities. It’s placed to capture and hold water from a water source, such as rainfall, streams, or irrigation runoff. The primary function of these ponds is to provide a reliable water supply for farming operations, especially in places where water is scarce. 

Uses of an Irrigation Pond

Irrigation ponds serve multiple functions, making them versatile assets on a farm. Their primary uses include:

  1. Water Supply for Crops: An irrigation pond ensures that crops receive a consistent supply of water, essential for growth and productivity. This is particularly beneficial during periods of drought or when rainfall is insufficient.
  2. Livestock Watering: For farmers who raise animals, irrigation ponds provide a reliable source of drinking water for livestock. This can be particularly important during hot, dry periods when other water sources may be limited.
  3. Reservoir for Drought: Irrigation ponds act as reservoirs, storing water during times of abundance (like during the rainy season) and making it available during dry periods. This helps to buffer against the effects of drought, protecting crops and livestock from water shortages.

Determining the Size of Your Pond

Determining the correct size of your irrigation pond is key to meeting your water needs effectively. Several factors influence the size, including the type and number of crops, the size of the area to be irrigated, and the average rainfall and evaporation rates in your region.

Some rules of thumb:  

  1. Water Requirement Calculation: Estimate the total water requirement for your crops and livestock. For instance, one acre of corn typically requires about 600,000 gallons of water during the growing season.
  2. Surface Area and Depth: A larger surface area allows for more water collection from rainfall, while a greater depth reduces evaporation losses.  A depth of 10-15 feet is common for irrigation ponds to balance storage capacity and minimize evaporation. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one acre-foot of water storage for every acre of irrigated land. An acre-foot is approximately 325,851 gallons. 
  3. Safety Margins: Include a safety margin in your calculations to account for periods of lower-than-average rainfall and higher evaporation rates.

How to Fill Your Irrigation Pond

You can fill your irrigation pond can be through several methods, each with its own advantages:

  1. Rainfall: Placing your pond in a low-lying area where rainwater naturally accumulates is an efficient way to collect water. You can also create diversion channels to direct rainwater runoff into the pond.
  2. Streams and Rivers: If your property has access to a stream or river, you can use these sources to fill your pond. This may require the installation of pumps and pipelines to transport the water, and you should be aware of any legal regulations regarding water extraction from natural sources.
  3. Irrigation Runoff: Capturing runoff from existing irrigation systems can help fill your pond. This method not only conserves water but also prevents erosion and nutrient loss from your fields.

Components of an Irrigation Pond

A well-designed pond will have one or more of the following features:

Pond Liner: A pond liner is essential to prevent water seepage. Liners are often made of materials like bentonite clay or geosynthetic materials like reinforced polyethylene(RPE) and reinforced polypropylene (RPP). RPE and RPP liners have important advantages for irrigation ponds. We frequently recommend our Aqua 24 RPE liners for irrigation ponds.

Silt Traps: Silt traps are necessary to prevent sediment from entering the pond and reducing its capacity. These traps capture silt and debris before the water enters the pond, maintaining the pond’s depth and water quality.

Irrigation Pump: An irrigation pump may be required to transfer water from the pond to your fields. The type of pump depends on the size of your pond and the distance the water needs to travel. Solar-powered pumps are an eco-friendly option that can reduce operational costs.

Water Filtration: Filtering the pond water before using it for crop irrigation is crucial to remove impurities and prevent clogging of irrigation systems. Filters can range from simple mesh screens to more complex systems that remove specific contaminants.

By considering these components, you can ensure that your irrigation pond is functional, efficient, and sustainable.

Learn More

Building an irrigation pond is a smart investment for any agricultural operation. 

Learn more about the different types of irrigation pond liners here.

Proper maintenance and management of the pond will ensure its long-term viability, supporting agricultural activities for years to come. Here’s how to keep your irrigation pond full of clean water.If you need help choosing the right liner for your pond, contact us for help.

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