If a water tank is raised above the ground you’re watering, channeling water to your plants without pressure can be possible. But how do you move water from a low to a higher level for spraying or sprinkling on your farm?

The solution is irrigation water pumps. These are very helpful as they provide the pressure needed to move water from a low to a high level for irrigation. Again, how do you determine the right pump for your needs?

Finding the right water pump for your irrigation needs can be challenging, as every pump is designed to solve a specific problem. From centrifugal, self-priming, piston, submersible pumps etc., you need an understanding of the factors to consider before acquiring one.

This article walks you through the different types of irrigation water pumps and the criteria for choosing the right pump for your needs. You will also learn how to install and prime an irrigation pump.

Let’s dive into the details!

Types of irrigation water pumps

Irrigation water pumps can be electric or diesel-powered. They vary in size, design and usage. These seven types of irrigation water pumps provide an understanding of the type of water pump you are looking for:

  • Self-Priming Water Pump: Have a water source that is not constantly available? This type of centrifugal pump can save you a lot. It is prime-automatic and mostly used along with other pump types.
  • Multistage Water Pump: This pump uses impellers to offer up to 500 PSI output with multiple stages of pumping power. It’s ideal for your needs if you are moving water uphill or over a long distance.
  • Hand Water Pumps:  Ideal for small gardens and other shallow wells, hand water pumps don’t require electricity or fuel and are easy to install and maintain.They also work well as backup systems when your primary pump fails due to power outages or mechanical issues.
  • Piston Water Pumps: this type uses a piston within a cylinder which creates pressure against incoming fluid, allowing it to pass through valves at both ends of the cylinder chamber before discharging it under pressure via outlet pipe connections. It is a positive displacement pump, ideal for shallow water sources such as ponds and fit for small-scale irrigation farms.
  • Submersible Water Pumps: Built specifically for underwater applications, the submersible water pump is designed with sealed electric motors that protect it from moisture exposure damage. Most submersibles feature built-in thermal protection against overheating, ensuring safety during long hours of continuous operation. This is for you if your water source is below the ground level.
  • Centrifugal Water Pumps: centrifugal water pumps operate by harnessing centrifugal force created when rotating impeller blades spin inside their housing. This type of pump is ideal for moderate water distances.
  • Borehole Water Pump: This pump can operate from the surface or submerged underwater. It’s ideal for accessing underground water supplies such as aquifers or groundwater reservoirs.This should be your choice to supply water to a remote location.

Related: Irrigation System Repair

Now that you understand different irrigation pump types, what are the factors to consider before acquiring one?

How to choose the best irrigation pump

What is your water pump for if it can’t meet your irrigation system requirements? Here are some things to consider when selecting your pump:

  • Vertical lift or high head value: Ensure the pump can lift water to the necessary height for your irrigation system.
  • Gallons per minute (GPM): Ensure that the GPM meets the water flow requirements for your system.
  • Pound-force per square inch (PSI): This is how much pressure a pump can generate and should be sufficient to move water through your irrigation system.
  • Power source: Decide whether you want electricity, water or gas as a power source for your pump.

How to prime an irrigation pump

Priming means flushing in the water while forcing it through to create enough pressure necessary for pumping. And you can do that using a can/bucket or a pipe.

Here’s a quick guideline for priming your irrigation pump:

  1. Turn off the power to your irrigation pump and drain any water that’s inside.
  2. Locate the priming port on your irrigation pump, which is typically near the suction side of the pipe and open it. (Ensure you have the right size spanner)
  3. Place a bucket or container beneath the priming port to collect excess water.
  4. Connect a garden hose to an outside faucet and attach it to the priming port on your irrigation pump with a short tubing or flexible hose clamp if necessary.
  5. Turn on the faucet until water flows into your pump’s tank.

6 Turn on the power. Allow water to run through the open relief valve (about a minute). Once all air bubbles have been expelled (in about a minute), close the relief valves.

Your irrigation pump should turn off automatically when fully primed. Otherwise, repeat the process to expel all the air.

Need a demo for priming your irrigation pump? You can check out this six-minute video on how to prime your irrigation pump.

How to install an irrigation water pump

Did you order your irrigation pump for the first time? Have a water source, a suction connection, the pump and a delivery hose, then follow this guideline to install:

  • Preparing a suction connection: Identify the suction inlet connection through which water flows from the source to the tank.
  • Fixing the filter (optional): A filter helps prevent dirt from reaching the pump, which can cause damage. Fix it to the suction connection’s inlet if you have one.
  • Connecting the suction hose: Connect the water source with the irrigation pump using the suction connection.
  • Prime the pump: Drive out any air from the pump following the guideline described previously.
  • Connecting the delivery hose: The delivery connection drives water to the desired destination. You are ready to start your pump for the first time.

Booster pump vs irrigation pump

An irrigation pump is designed to move large volumes of water at low pressure, typically from a lake, river, or pond. You can use it for agricultural irrigation systems and other applications requiring reliable, efficient operation.

Conversely, a booster pump is smaller and designed to increase the pressure of water moving through pipes for residential or commercial use. You can use a booster pump with sprinkler systems or provide additional water pressure for showers and faucets.