What is Fertigation?
Fertigation is the continuous injection of fertilizer into irrigation water. A dosing pump releases a set amount of fertilizer into the irrigation water and allows for a high degree of precision and control of nutrients. The microdoses of nutrients supplied with fertigation systems make it easier for plants to take up nutrients and reduces mineral salt build-up from leftover fertilizer. Other benefits include less waste of fertilizer, reduced labor, and uniform nutrient distribution.
Since fertigation relies on the use of nutrients in a form that is ready to be taken up by the plant, synthetic nutrients are most commonly used. Many organic nutrients require modification by soil bacteria in order for plants to take them in. Anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate, and urea are most commonly used as readily available sources of nitrogen. Doses of nutrients are determined by considering soil and water nutrient levels, and the plant’s growth stage. The success of fertigation is highly dependent on getting the dose correct and problems of deficiency or excess can arise if the dose is not correct.
- Drip Irrigation: Most efficient for nutrient and water conservation and targeted delivery to the root zone of the plant
- Sprinkler Systems: Effective but tends to waste water
- Continuous Application: Fertilizer is supplied at a constant rate
- Three-stage application: Irrigation starts without fertilizers and fertilizers are applied later in the process
- Proportional Application: Injection rate is proportional to water discharge rate
- Quantitative Application: The nutrient solution is applied in a calculated amount to each irrigation block