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Water Science Photo Gallery
Irrigation water use: Center-pivot irrigation

If you've looked out of an airplane window while flying over the central or western United States, chances are you saw lot of the "little" circles on the ground. They are center-pivot irrigation circles, this set being in Colorado. In these systems, water is pumped from an well in the center of the circle from an underground aquifer and distributed through a giant sprinkler hundreds of yards long that pivots around a central point. In the past, large spray guns were used to shoot water through the air onto the crops, but nowadays more efficient low-pressure sprinklers hang from the pipes to spray water close to the ground, which is a much more efficient method that saves water.

This NASA satellite photo shows crop circles in Finney County, Kansas. These irrigated plots are 800 and 1,600 meters in diameter (0.5 and 1 mile). This area utilizes irrigation water from the Ogallala aquifer, that underlies an area from Wyoming to Texas.

 Back to: Irrigation water use | Irrigation methods |

Satellite photo of center-pivot irrigation circles, this set being in Kansas.

Credit: NASA

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