WRM-30806 Water Delivery

This Study Handbook is published with reservation. It is not official yet.


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work20
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. GE van Halsema
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. JC van Dam
dr. ir. GE van Halsema
CJL Seijger
ing. H Boesveld
Examiner(s)dr. ir. GE van Halsema

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

WRM-10306 Irrigation & water management.


The course consists of 4 discernible themes:.

Theme 1: On-Farm Surface Irrigation practical

Given that the majority of irrigation practices in the world still consist of surface irrigation methods (borders, basins, furrows), this course kicks off with a two weeks surface irrigation practical. By conducting an irrigation experiment in the irrigation tunnel (volume-balance method) you gain understanding in:

- the advanced principles of surface hydraulics;

- the requirements to calibrate the soil infiltration characteristics for optimisation of surface irrigation;

- the principles of performance evaluation and the factors affecting the optimisation of surface irrigation to increase efficiency and minimise water losses.

In conducting the experiment and evaluating its results in a report (performed in a group of 4-5 students) you are also schooled in:

- setting-up a field experiment and conducting accurate measurements;

- data management and processing;

- critical evaluation of measurement data, weighing of alternative methods, assessing of errors, and valuing of best methods.

The group report will be marked and constitutes the examination of this part.

Theme 2: Design of on-farm pressurised irrigation system.

As water is getting scarce and the pressure to become more efficient with water in agriculture increases, the second practical of the course is dedicated to the design of a pressurised on-farm irrigation system. In pairs (2 persons) you will be tasked to make a design for an on-farm pressurised irrigation system (drip, sprinkler or micro-sprinkler) for a farm in Spain. Through this 2 week design practical you will gain understanding in:

- the hydraulics of pressurised irrigation systems;

- evaluation and cost-performance criteria of pumps;

- design criteria and dimensioning of pressurised irrigation systems;

- assessment of investment & operational costs of pressurised irrigation systems;

- socio-economic impacts of transition from surface irrigation to pressurised irrigation.

This part consists of lectures, design tutorials and a half day excursion. Your design (report) will be marked, and your knowledge of the theory of pressurised irrigation systems will be tested in the course exam.

Theme 3: Salinity Management

The long-term sustainability of irrigation (whether surface or pressurised) may be undermined by prolonged accumulation of salts in the soil and groundwater tables, as attested by the millions of hectares of irrigated land taken out of production to-date as a result of salinisation. To avoid these negative impacts, measures need to be taken to flush salts out and avoid their accumulation in the soil and/or groundwater. Through lectures and calculation exercises you will be versed in:

- calculating long-term salt balances under various agro-climatic conditions;

- determining the effects salinisation has on crop production and long-term soil properties;

- the measures that can be taken to avoid salinisation;

- calculate the leaching requirements for any given agro-climatic condition and water source quality.

Your knowledge of this field will be tested in the course exam.

Theme 4: Water productivity, performance & economic value of irrigated agriculture.

In this final block (5-6 lectures) we take a step back to expand our view to the scales of irrigations systems and water catchments. How do efficiency, productivity and economic value indicators perform at larger scales of analysis? How do water savings at field level (painstakingly obtained in block 1 & 2) accrue to water savings at irrigation system or water catchment level? Are productivity gains at field scale transferable to system or catchment scale? How can the application of performance indicators help understand issues affecting the allocation and distribution of water, agricultural production and their socio-economic impacts? Through lectures & literature you gain insight on how performance indicators can be applied to address these questions in a quantitative manner. Your knowledge of these will be tested in the course exam.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- apply the advanced surface hydraulics in the calibration, evaluation and optimisation of on-farm surface irrigation;

- set-up and conduct a field experiment and conduct its data set-up, processing and error assessment, valuing different measurement / data processing methods;

- to design an on-farm pressurised irrigation system and determine its investment and operational costs;

- consider the various socio-economic impacts associated with the transformation from surface to pressurised irrigation systems; 

- calculate a long-term salt balance under various agro-climatic conditions, and the requisite leaching requirements to avoid salinisation of the soil;

- identify the measures that need to be taken in irrigated agriculture to avoid salinisation, sodification and water logging;

- apply performance indicators of water efficiency, productivity and economic value at different scales, and how these can be applied for a quantitative analysis of the environmental and socio-economic impacts of irrigated agriculture.


The course consists of:
- lectures and guest lectures about specific subjects;
- selfstudy; assignments;
- active participation in working groups and practicals;
- field practical on performance of furrow irrigation;
- practical on design of a sprinkler or drip irrigation system.


- written examination (A);
- two practical reports (B)
- the practical mark (B) is the average of the score for the two reports (1-A and 1-B).
The end mark for the course is calculated as (0.60 * A + 0.40 * B), where A and B should be at least 5.0


The course reader will be made available at the beginning of the course.

Restricted Optional for: MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMScB: Spec. B - Water, Society and Technology5MO
MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMScD: Spec. D - Flexible Configurations for Innovative Minds5MO