This study compares surge flow with conventional steady flow irrigation in 130-160 m field lengths in order to analyze the potential of the former for reducing deep percolation and tailwater runoff together with the improvement of irrigation efficiency. The field experiment comprises of four surge treatments with two inflow rates of 0.0498 and 0.12 m(3)/min (Q(1) and Q(2)), and two cycle ratios of 0.33 and 0.50 (CR1 and CR2), respectively, with 30 min on-times, along with two steady flow treatments with the same inflow rates. Surge flow irrigation of the level furrows was successfully managed under the field conditions with decreases in the total water applications (2-22%) and the water intake (14-25%), except in the treatments of surge S-11 (Q(1) CR1) with 9% increase in the latter together with 21-38% decrease in the tailwater runoff and 19-70% decrease in the calculated deep percolation below the root zone of 1.20 m depending on inflow rates and cycle ratios of the permeable Harran soils. Surge flow reduced the water intake of a surface soil loosened by tillage by 13-23% as compared to continuous flow, thus manifesting an incomparable advantage to the level furrow systems. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.