What is fertigation?
Fertigation refers to a system that distributes fertilizer evenly to the entire field by attaching the injection tank directly to the sprinkler systems. This is an easy and cost-effective way to apply fertilizers to all the plants. A fertigation system can be applied to a preexisting sprinkler system as well. This process allows a farmer to apply small amounts of fertilizer in each set of fertigation that contributes to a high flexibility in fertigation frequencies overall. The availability of nutrients to the plants is very high and therefore the efficiency of this system is better.
Need for fertigation:
Fertigation also helps in conserving water and reducing pollution and is the most environmentally friendly way to fertilize an area. Using a fertigation system can decrease water consumption by 20- 50 percent and drastically reduce water bills especially in summers. One of the major complaints of using fertilizers in the water run-off and chemicals entering into the drainage systems of cities, lakes and rivers. The use of modern and organic products in combination with micro dosing eliminates these issues as well. As an end result, it has the potential to reduce the quantity of nutrient leaching and any further subsequent ground water leaching. It can be used by large scale as well as small scale farms.
Other uses of fertigation would include administration of herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and growth regulators- basically all the nutrients and other essentials required for the proliferation and sustenance of the plant.
In a fertigation system the water, fertilizer placement and application frequencies are managed much more efficiently as compared to conventional and dry modes of applying fertilizers to crops. As a result of this, yields drastically improve and an optimum ionic balance can be achieved in plants. Fertigation is also an effective mode of controlling the timing and placement of fertilizers to root zones of crops and is often considered to be synonymous to nutrient efficiency.
The process of fertigation is commonly and vastly used in commercial agriculture and horticulture. It is also becoming vastly common in landscaping as it is much simpler and more reliable to use.
Advantages of fertigation:
- Reduction in the amount of grunt work
- Less raw material consumption
- Prevention of nutrient washing and environmental pollution
- An optimum increase in yield obtained and adjustment of pH to ensure complete utilization of nutrients supplied.
- Worth the investment and shows return on investment quickly
- Responsible way of fertilization
- Frequent supply of nutrients that reduces the fluctuation in concentration of soil nutrients
- Nutrients can be introduced in the soil even when natural conditions will not allow conventional modes to do the same
Disadvantages of the above method are that an intricate knowledge and technical understanding are essential, the high initial cost, and corrosion associated with the use of parts of the machine.
Some of the disadvantages can obviously be eliminated by the usage of corrosion resistant materials and the fact that the return of investment is relatively fast.
Systems that can easily incorporate fertigation:
- Drip irrigation: This system is much less wasteful than sprinkler systems as the water and fertilizers are directly provided at the absorption zone of the plant, that is, the roots.
- Sprinkler systems: These systems are generally used to increase the efficiency for leafy plants and fruits by boosting the quality of the final produce.
xModern fertigation systems can also be automated with innovative and extensive satellite-based software that helps in pinpointing the variable rate of fertilizer applications.
All systems should be placed on a raised or sealed platform and not in direct contact with the ground. it is important to prevent backflow to avoid the potential risk of contamination in the portable water that is not used for agricultural purposes.
Drip irrigation is the most regularly used means of fertigation, which adds to its effectiveness. The net result of drip irrigation ensures an excellent arrangement of crop and uniform supply of fertilizer.
Types of fertigation:
- N Fertigation: This refers to the use of urea that is well suited for injection into micro irrigation systems. Urea is highly soluble and can easily dissolve into non-ionic form so that there is no unwanted reaction with other substances in the irrigation water.
- P Fertigation: This refers to the application of phosphorus to irrigation water that can cause precipitation of phosphate salts. Phosphoric acid in combination with ammonium phosphate has proven to be much more suitable for fertigation
- K Fertigation: This refers to the application of K Fertilizers that do not cause any precipitation of salts
What is the main fertigation equipment’s?
There are 3 main fertigation equipment’s that aid and ease the entire process namely,
- Ventury: This part constructs in the main flow of pipe and causes difference in vacuum that is sufficient to suck fertilizer solutions from an open container into the water flow. It is very easy to handle and is affordable for all scales of operations.
- Fertilizer tank: This refers to a tank containing fertilizer solution that is connected to the irrigation pipe ate the supply point.
- Fertilizer pump: This refers to a pump that is a standard component of the control head. The fertilizer solution is held in a non-pressurized tank and can be injected into the irrigation water at any ratio.