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Irrigation and drainage end-user audits

Irrigation application efficiency

Irrigation application efficiency is the ratio of water delivered at the irrigation system start point to the amount stored in the active root zone and is available for use by the plants.

Expected application efficiency for agricultural systems

Irrigation methods Maximum field application efficiency
Surface irrigation (border, furrow, basin) 60%
Sprinkler irrigation (any type) 75%
Drip irrigation (surface or underground) 90%+

Source: FAO (Brouwer C., Prins K.), 1989. Irrigation Water Management: Irrigation Scheduling, Training manual no. 4.

Auditing approach

  • An irrigation audit is the method of inspecting and measuring how effective system operates to apply the water within each individual irrigation zone.
  • Results are compiled and used in combination with other observations and measurements to facilitate irrigation management.
  • An audit is not something you do once and then forget about. Irrigation systems must be managed consistently and regularly to account for the changes that happen in the weather and the landscape.
  • Improvement in system operation is expected to be immediate.

What is an irrigation auditor?

  • An auditors job is not to manage water, design systems, or even install them, it is to compile data that is then used by designers, installers and managers.
  • An auditor should have knowledge of irrigation products and practices be able to effectively create an irrigation schedule.

What can we expect from an audit?

  • A reduction in water use and consequently financial savings
  • A more consistent distribution of water
  • A smaller amount of water wasted below the root zone
  • Less runoff
  • Less need for fertilizers and chemicals

Relevant deliverables of IRMA project

In the framework of IRMA project a complete toolbox (guide, calculator and toolcase) for irrigation and drainage audits at end-user level was developed and assessed in both Greece and Italy. The relevant deliverables are:

  1. Irrigation & Drainage Audits Guide and End-User Audit WorkBookand End-User Audit WorkBook
  2. Irrigation & Drainage Audits Results for Apulia (Italy)
  3. Irrigation & Drainage Audits Results for Epirus and Western Greece (Greece)



The IRMA auditor toolcase