Comparison between sprinkler irrigation and natural rainfall based on droplet diameter

MaoSheng Ge, Pute Wu, Delan Zhu, Daniel P. Ames


An indoor experiment was conducted to analyze the movement characteristics of different sized droplets and their influence on water application rate distribution and kinetic energy distribution. Radial droplets emitted from a Nelson D3000 sprinkler nozzle under 66.3, 84.8, and 103.3 kPa were measured in terms of droplet velocity, landing angle, and droplet kinetic energy and results were compared to natural rainfall characteristics. Results indicate that sprinkler irrigation droplet landing velocity for all sizes of droplets is not related to nozzle pressure and the values of landing velocity are very close to that of natural rainfall. The velocity horizontal component increases with radial distance while the velocity vertical component decreases with radial distance. Additionally, landing angle of all droplet sizes decreases with radial distance. The kinetic energy is decomposed into vertical component and horizontal component due to the oblique angles of droplet impact on the surface soil, and this may aggravate soil erosion. Therefore the actual oblique angle of impact should be considered in actual field conditions and measures should be taken for remediation of soil erosion if necessary.


droplet size; velocity; landing angle; kinetic energy

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2016141-8076