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Guidelines for Sediment Control in Irrigation Return Flow

Carter, D.L. (1976) Guidelines for Sediment Control in Irrigation Return Flow. Journal of Environment Quality. 5(2):119-124.

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Sediments in irrigation return flows arise mostly from erosion in
furrows during irrigation, and sediment concentrations vary widely
from near zero to several thousand ppm. Reducing both erosion
and runoff would decrease the sediment in return flows. Technology
is available for reducing both erosion during irrigation and
soil loss from the land, and for removing sediments from return
flows. This technology is discussed, and the following guidelines
are suggested.

1) Eliminate or reduce irrigation return flows when conditions
permit using irrigation methods with little or no runoff.

2) Control the irrigation furrow slope so that the run is across
the steepest slope or on the contour. Decrease the slope near
the end of the furrow to reduce the flow velocity and increase

3) Control the furrow stream size and make proper stream adjustments.
Adequate water measuring equipment and controls
are essential for proper stream size control.

4) Shorten the run length.

5) Control the irrigation duration to reduce the number of irrigations
per season. Alternate furrow irrigation reduces the
contact between soil and flowing water and subsequent

6) Cultivate only when necessary, avoiding excessive soil loosening
which increases erosion and soil loss.

7) Control tailwater by assuring that it flows slowly enough
that sediments settle before the water leaves the field.
Filtering through grass strips removes sediments.

8) Utilize sediment retention basins to remove sediment from
return flows.

Item Type: Article
NWISRL Publication Number: 0348
Subjects: Irrigation > Furrow irrigation > Runoff losses > Sediment
Mass Import - autoclassified (may be erroneous)
Depositing User: Dan Stieneke
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2010 21:51
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2017 20:22
Item ID: 299