10 components of an irrigation system


1Water source
This could be a well, irrigation pond, irrigation ditch, river, etc.

Depending on location and volume/pressure requirements, this can vary.

3Backflow prevention
This prevents any foreign material, fertilizer or contaminants from flowing back into the water source.

4Pressure regulator
Depending on the type of emitters, the pressure that this device regulates to can vary widely. This not only reduces the pressure, but can work to keep pressure consistent.

There are varying types of filters, but all serve to remove particulates from the water that could plug emitters.

These are used to apply water-soluble fertilizers through the irrigation kit.

These vary, but are used to connect various different types of equipment and irrigation lines.

8Distribution lines
These move water from the water source to the location of application.

9Submain lines/headers
These water lines enter the field and distribute water to the emitters.

Drip tape or overhead sprinklers apply the water to the crop.

Next Week: Choosing an irrigation system.

Source: Irrigation considerations for the small vegetable farm, Michigan State Extension.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

More Farming 101 columns:


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!


  1. Okay, I have some wonderful news: my parents recently retired and they intend to live out the rest of their days on the farm they purchased a few years ago. Anyway, I’m assisting them in finding a company that can build irrigation systems and help them provide their crops with the water they require. They must be aware that the pressure that this device controls to can vary significantly depending on the type of emitters. You said that doing so can help to maintain constant pressure in addition to lowering it.

  2. I appreciate your explanation when you told us that irrigation systems have a component meant for backflow prevention, which helps prevent any foreign material, fertilizer, or contaminants from flowing back into the water source. My dad retired from his office job to take care of our farm property in Stanislaus County, so now he needs an agricultural irrigation system for his fields. I’ll keep this in mind while I help him find an agricultural equipment supplier in Stanislaus County to contact about the installation soon.


We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.