14452 - Agricoltural Hydraulic,Irrigation And Drainage

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Attilio Toscano

  • Learning modules Attilio Toscano (Modulo Mod 1)
    Vincenzo Alagna (Modulo Mod 2)

  • Credits 8

  • SSD AGR/08

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme First cycle degree programme (L) in Land and agro-forestry Sciences (cod. 8525)


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Zero hunger Clean water and sanitation

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the teaching, the student acquires the most important principles and notions of the agricultural hydraulics and technical elements for managing water for irrigation and drainage. In particular, he/she knows the most widespread technologies applied on irrigation systems and the criteria to design an irrigation system with a view of water saving.

Course contents

Teaching Module 1: Agricultural hydraulics (40 hours)

Unit 1 - Agricultural hydraulics (25 hours)

  • Base notions and principal quantities of the agricultural hydraulics.
  • Hydrostatics: distribution of pressure in a fluid in quiet, law of Stevin, thrust force on partially and fully immersed plane surfaces.
  • Hydrodynamics: types of fluid flow and motion, the Bernoulli’s theorem for ideal and real (energetic dissipations) fluids.
  • Flows in pressure: hydraulic head losses (minor and major head losses) and tracing of the lines of piezometric and total loads, long pipelines and related problems of verification and design.
  • Open channel flows: constructive characterization of channels, problems of verification and design, range of flow rate.

Competences acquired in unit 1

The student matures the mastery of language and management of the quantities of the hydraulics. The student understands the phenomena that appear both in quiet (hydrostatics) and in movement (hydrodynamics) water. The student acquires tools for facing problems of verification and design both in long pipelines and in open channels.

Unit 2 - Practical exercises (15 hours)

  • Hydrostatics, numerical exercises: diagram of pressure and evaluation of thrust on plain surfaces, identification of the center of hydrostatics thrust.
  • Hydrodynamics, numerical exercises and long pipelines: problems of verification and design (sizing pipelines, choosing of the diameters).
  • Open channel flows, numerical excercises: problems of verification and design (sizing and range of flow rate).

Competences acquired in unit 2

The student identifies and calculates the fundamental quantities of the agricultural hydraulics. The student is able to verify and design pipelines in pressure and channels.


Teaching Module 2: Irrigation and drainage (40 hours)

Unit 3 - Irrigation (25hours)

  • Base concepts and definition of the fundamental quantities - classification of the irrigation according to agronomic and territorial criteria, necessity and convenience of the irrigation, soil hydrology, irrigation water needs, irrigation volume determination.
  • Gravitational methods of irrigation: sliding, infiltration, submersion.
  • Pressurized irrigation methods: sprinkling (constituent elements of a system, types of farm systems, self-propelled systems (hose reels sprinkler and pivot), types and characteristics of sprinklers) and micro-irrigation (constituent elements of a system, types and characteristics of drippers, filtration systems, fertigation).
  • Performance evaluation of irrigation systems
  • Pump systems and other equipment: classification of the pumps, fundamental quantities, characterization of pumps and other equipment

Competences acquired in unit 3

The student knows the correct technical approach with respect to the irrigation systems explained during the frontal lessons and he/she is able to choose the most suitable irrigation technique for the different farm realities. The student knows the criteria to calculate the main parameters of irrigation.

Unit 4 - Drainage (5 hours)

  • Farm drainage: purposes, theory, drainage technique and operating principles.
  • Relationship between water and drainage.
  • Classification of the types of drains and their respective use: horizontal drainage, vertical drainage.

Competences acquired in unit 4

The student is able to identify the characteristic elements of both superficial and underground drainage systems. The student recognizes the most suitable setup for removing surface water by means the subsurface drainage systems.

Unit 5 – Examples of irrigation system design and educational visits (10 hours)

  • Examples of irrigation system design (sprinkling and microirrigation) sizing and hydraulic verification of a farm irrigation system.
  • Computation of the uniformity coefficients of irrigation distribution and field performances evaluations
  • Didactic/field visit.

Competences acquired in unit 5

Given a specific context, the student is able to choose the most suitable irrigation system and he/she knows the criteria for its sizing. The student will also have the opportunity to understand, in the field, the functioning of all the component parts of an irrigation system.


  • Lecture notes on "Agricultural Hydraulics, Irrigation and Drainage” provided by teachers (pdf on website) and material delivered in class.
  • CAPRA A., SCICOLONE B. 2007. Progettazione e gestione degli impianti di irrigazione. Criteri di impiego e valorizzazione delle acque per uso irriguo. 2a edizione: 2016, Edagricole. ISBN 978-88-506-5494-9
  • Lamm, F. R., Ayars, J. E., & Nakayama, F. S. (2006). Microirrigation for crop production: design, operation, and management. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-444-50607-8

    Books for further study:

  • Allen, R. G., Pereira, L. S., Raes, D., & Smith, M. (1998). Crop evapotranspiration-Guidelines for computing crop water requirements-FAO Irrigation and drainage paper 56. Fao, Rome, 300(9), D05109.
  • Santelli P. (2019). Impianti di irrigazione a goccia per le colture agrarie. Dario Flaccovio Editore. ISBN 9788857910277
  • Santelli P. (2016). Metodi e tecniche di irrigazione del verde ornamentale. Dario Flaccovio Editore. ISBN 9788857905792
  • V. Ferro; “Elementi di idraulica e idrologia per le scienze agrarie, ambientali e forestali”; McGraw-Hill; Milano; 2013

Teaching methods

The course is divided in five didactic units. Three units are theoretical. They are developed through frontal lessons supported by slides. Demonstrations will be done through the help of blackboard and doubts will be clarified with opportune tools. The second didactic unit foresees numerical exercises that would be developed from the teacher and students. The material will be provided both on paper and on digital format. Specific seminars and insights are planned depending on student learning needs. The didactic visit is an integral part of the course because it is useful and necessary to understand the mechanisms of different irrigation systems in the field.

Assessment methods

The verification of the learning, of both modules, consists in a single written exam in which: i) two or three numerical exercises, related to agricultural hydraulics, will have to be solved and ii) a free answer to three or four questions related to irrigation and drainage module will have to be given. The exercises will be related to those carried out during the class exercises. If the final positive evaluation is not considered satisfactory by the student, the latter could take an additional oral exam. Students wishing to take the examination in English are allowed; in this case a communication is needed in advance.

Teaching tools

Slides, blackboard, computer, didactic material.

Office hours

See the website of Attilio Toscano

See the website of Vincenzo Alagna