Date of this Version



© 1996, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide illustrates the influence of soil texture, topography and irrigation system characteristics on potential runoff.

When water is applied to a field through a sprinkler irrigation system, it should soak into the soil where it lands rather than drain to a low spot or off the field altogether. Runoff causes non-uniformity of water application, poor irrigation efficiency and possible leaching of chemicals to the groundwater. Some systems like LEPA (Low Energy Precision Application) are designed so water does not immediately soak into the soil. However, proper LEPA designs also call for tillage practices that hold the water on the soil surface where it lands until it has time to infiltrate into the soil. Sprinkler systems should be designed for zero runoff so no water leaves the point of application.