Except for “dry agriculture” operations where natural rain water is sufficient, water movement systems are very important for nearly all agriculture. The water pump is at the center of water movement. Diesel fuel driven water pumps are the standard tools in a majority of farms, especially in Southeast Asia. You can learn more about diesel water pumps here.
Water pumps powered by electricity or diesel engines are used to move water from wells or natural water sources through pipes into irrigation channels in fields or through water sprayers. They are used to pump water out of flooded areas. Water pumps can be used to supply water to livestock or to move liquid feed or chemicals.
Where farms are far from the electrical grid, as is the case in many rural farm localities, Diesel pumps have important advantages. They are self contained. Both the power source and the pump are contained in the same unit. They are relatively light. Many popular five horse power pumps are light enough to be handled by one man. Diesel fuel is relatively cheap and is available in virtually every agricultural region of the world.
Diesel driven water pumps are the tool of choice in places like India where farms have no access to electricity to power pumps. Most Indian farmers can not depend on unpredictable rainfall. Since the 1970s, diesel water pumps have become affordable. Indian farmers were able to raise water out of groundwater wells in sufficient capacity to cultivate crops all year, beyond the traditional growing season. The availability of these self-contained pumps has lifter many Indian farmers out of poverty.
Electrically driven water pumps are the only competitors to diesel pumps. The Indian government offers some subsides for electricity to farms and there are some 11 million electrical pumps in use among Indian farmers. However, the Indian power grid has become overstretched and unreliable and the diesel pump is the only available option to most.
Almost all diesel water pumps are manufactured in China and Japan. Honda is a major manufacturer of the smaller, more portable pumps which are popular among farmers. India manufacturers Kirloskar and Bharat make a popular lightweight five horsepower pump as well. Lightweight water pumps are often mounted on carts and moved around by horses or bulls.
Throughout the world, ecological concerns and concerns about the rising cost of oil are driving efforts to find alternatives to diesel pumps. People are experimenting with renewable energy sources. Solar electrical power or solar steam-driven engines are being developed. Much of this research is being carried out in a crowd-sources fashion. Greenpeace has offered a design challenge, offering a large prize for winning designs. Some inventors have even suggested combining human pedal-power pumps with solar systems.