Traditional application of fertilizers is outdated, and fertigation has recently been in the spotlight. That doesn’t come as a surprise, since modern-day fertilizers are so effective that they can even double the crop yields.
Instead of fertilizing land once a year, farmers can apply fertilizers to the root of the plant directly, in the needed amount, and precisely when the plant needs it.
This article will explain what precision fertigation is, some significant benefits for the plants, and how it works.
What Is Precision Fertigation?
Precision fertigation is a process of applying water-soluble fertilizer to the root plant along with water in a simplified way, with the goal to provide the adequate amount of water and nutrients directly to the root zone.
Depending on the type of farm, there are small and large-scale fertigation systems. Smaller farms would benefit from a small-scale fertigation system, while large-scale systems are for larger areas.
Fertigation systems can be manual and automated, depending on farmers’ type of fertigation equipment. The fertigation system can function with:
- Drip irrigation systems
- Flood irrigation
How Does the Fertigation System Work?
Precision fertigation works with liquid fertilizers that are spread through the irrigation system.
The farmer injects the (dissolved) fertilizer into the irrigation system using an injector and a pressure-controlled valve. The key is to be precise about the quantity of fertilizer you use, how you combine different nutrients, and when you decide to apply the fertilizer.
The plants’ roots need to be wet to absorb nutrients as effectively as possible. This is why precision fertigation is so beneficial for the crops: the nutrient absorption is enhanced as the fertilizer is dissolved in water used for irrigation.
Traditional fertilization happens once a year, whereas farmers can repeat the fertigation process once a week or whenever the plant needs fertilizers.
However, fertigation requires a lot of attention and risk-prevention activities. Fertilizers should never come into contact with the water source or the neighboring farm, as they can threaten the environment. It’s likely that fertigation systems are required to have a backflow prevention device to decrease the risk of contaminating drinking water with chemicals if an issue with the system arises.
Fertigation Is Best Used With Drip Irrigation
While it may be compatible to apply fertigation with other irrigation systems, the best results come with drip irrigation systems.
- Drip irrigation reaches the root directly. Hence there isn’t much runoff. With a drip irrigation system, fertilizers will also get to the root, leading to minimal waste.
- Drip irrigation and fertigation reach the root only. When fertilizers reach the subsurface parts of the plant, there’s a danger that they’ll burn the delicate features, such as leaves.
- Drip fertigation reduces the chance of fungal disease. When fertilizers reach the leaves, they may not just burn them, but they can also increase the spread of fungal disease. The best way to apply fertilizers is to the root directly, which is why drip irrigation is the most convenient type.
- Drip fertigation isn’t affected by the wind. Another disadvantage of using fertigation with other irrigation systems is that wind can transmit the particles of fertilizers into fresh waters, food, and adjacent field.
- Drip fertigation is eco-friendly. If there’s wind, there’s a high risk that fertilizers will contaminate water and foo, so drip fertigation is also eco-friendly, as it preserves the environment.
Subsurface fertigation can damage leaves and contaminate the environment, making drip fertigation the best choice for fertigation.
Farmers Can Combine Different Fertilizers That Are Right for Their Soil and Crops
Fertigation isn’t simply a process of applying water and fertilizers to plants. Instead, the method enables the farmer to combine different fertilizers that the plants need.
When choosing the right type of fertilizers, farmers should choose either solid fertilizers that dissolve in water or already liquified fertilizers.
The different fertilizer types should be compatible with each other. When necessary, they should be in separate reservoirs and only combined before the fertigation.
Fertilizers can also impact the acidity of the soil. Some crops thrive in a more acidic environment, while others don’t. Farmers should constantly monitor the pH levels of the soil with a pH sensor to know which fertilizer to apply to establish a proper soil environment.
Why Is Fertigation Good for Plants?
Here’s how precision fertigation combined with drip irrigation benefits your plants.
Fertigation Decreases the Salt Concentration
Applying a large amount of fertilizers in traditional farming increases the salt concentration in the plant and the soil, negatively impacting the soil and the plant. Using smaller doses of fertilizers more frequently prevents this problem entirely.
Read more: How to irrigate blueberry orchards
The Right Amount of Fertilizers Is Applied
Fertigation enables farmers to nurture their crops with the ideal amount of fertilizers. Applying too much or too little fertilizers to the plant isn’t beneficial. Only enough fertilizers will lead to high-quality crops and increased yields.
Better Availability and Intake of Fertilizers
When farmers apply fertilizers to the dry soil, the soil cannot absorb the nutrients from the fertilizers. With the irrigation part of the process, the soil gets wet first, and then when fertilizers reach the soil, the soil absorbs it all.
Fertilizers are better absorbed when the roots are wet.
What Are Other Benefits of Using Fertigation?
Farmers can use the same infrastructure for both fertilization and fertigation. Since farmers won’t need any equipment for fertilization, this process is cost-effective.
With fertigation, both fertilization and irrigation occur at the same time. Farmers don’t have to fertilize separately, saving time and money.
One of the significant benefits of using fertigation is that there’s no waste, or there’s a minimum waste only. The fertilizers get straight to the root, absorbing it all.
You Don’t Need Much to Get Started with Precision Fertigation
Monitoring the soil and the plant is key to precision fertigation. Farmers who use a soil-moisture sensor and water flow and pH sensors experience the maximum benefit of the fertigation process.
The best possible results can come by using modern fertigation equipment. An injector, a pressure-controlled valve, and an irrigation system are what it takes to begin with fertigation.
SmartWatering controller informs the farmer via an app on the phone when the pH and soil moisture levels reach a certain threshold above which farmers should water them.
The benefits of this approach are numerous, and the results are mirrored in the nutritious, tasty crops sought after on the market.