Fertilizer for drip irrigation system

Fertilizing Made Simple with Drip Irrigation

Fertigation is the application of fertilizers, soil amendments, or other water-soluble products through an irrigation system. In an effort to maintain healthy plants, most growers occasionally enlist the aid of fertilizers into their normal gardening routine. Fertilizers are added to soil to supply or supplement any number of nutrients to plants as desired. Most plants need nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur. Unless these main macronutrients and any other micronutrients are present in the soil, plants would only receive carbon, hydrogen and oxygen from water and carbon dioxide in the air. By utilizing fertilizers, most growers can conservatively estimate a 30 to 50 percent increase in crop yields in addition to an increase in the overall health of the plants.

Fortunately for drip irrigation users, fertilizer injectors are readily available which make the process of applying fertilizers to plants almost effortless. In a typical drip irrigation system, water is efficiently supplied to the plants utilizing tubing and drip emitters. By utilizing this same delivery system, these injectors are able to apply fertilizers exactly where they are needed, at the plant’s root zone. No additional water or time is needed to fertilize since the system operates as part of the normal watering schedule as determined by the user.

Fertilizer injectors are typically installed as part of a drip irrigation head assembly which, in order, consists of a backflow preventer, filter and pressure regulator. Smaller injector units can be installed between the backflow preventer and the filter. For larger injector units, an adapter is installed instead, with tubing running between the adapter and a main holding tank. When the water supply is turned on, a small amount of water is diverted from the main stream of water flowing through the unit or adapter and forced into the top of the fertilizer tank. A slight pressure differential is created between the inlet and outlet of the tank, thereby drawing the fertilizer out of the tank and back into the main water stream. The water coming into the tank is lighter than the fertilizer, and therefore floats on top. The fertilizer is drawn out of the tank from the bottom, making the injection rate constant from start to finish.

Most fertilizer injectors cannot be subjected to constant pressure, so the unit or adapter will need to be installed after a valve or timer. Some constant pressure units are available, and can be installed before a valve or timer. These types are desirable especially in multi zone systems eliminating the need for a separate fertilizing unit for each zone.

If a colorless fertilizer is used, you will not be able to visually determine when all the fertilizer in the tank is gone since water is constantly cycled through the tank. Add a few drops of food coloring to the clear fertilizer, and once the tank is free of color, you’ll know all the fertilizer has been distributed.

The backflow preventer is an important part of the system as it will prevent any fertilizing agent from inadvertently traveling back into any drinkable water supply. Filling a fertilizer injector is usually accomplished by unscrewing a fill cap, emptying any water inside the unit, and refilling the unit with undiluted fertilizer. The fertilizer can be any 100% water-soluble agent in liquid or dry (granular) form. This is important to prevent clogging the drip emitters.

The feed ratio refers to the rate at which the fertilizer is mixed with water. Unlike larger injector units with adjustable feed ratio mechanisms, most smaller units are categorized as proportioning injectors whereby the injection rate of the fertilizer is proportional to the water discharge rate and cannot be adjusted.

Fertilizer injectors made primarily for drip irrigation systems have no moving parts, require no maintenance other than occasional refilling, can be easily installed, and are very durable. Since they are also relatively inexpensive and can save users both time and money, more and more gardeners are adding fertilizer injectors to their already worry-free drip irrigation systems.

Happy gardening!

Contents

Precision fertigation: Better crops, every time.

Meet precision fertigation

Controlling what you give to your field every day and not applying your entire season’s fertilizer in one go has many benefits. It allows you to maximize yields and reduce nutrients costs by providing plants with what they need, when they need it. Not sooner nor later. Using the drip system for nutrients application reduces labor and equipment costs associated with traditional ways of applying nutrients. Lastly, it allows you to manage risks and reduce losses caused by falling crop prices, diseases, or unpredictable weather patterns.

Nourish your crops from the inside

Fertigation is a game of quantities, nutrient combinations and precise timings. Precision fertigation is the optimal root-zone management tool delivering just the right combination of water and nutrients directly to the roots of each plant, according to your crop development cycles.

Precision fertigation protects your fertilizer investment by letting you tweak dosages on demand, in response to setbacks like market fluctuations and climate changes. And, by keeping doses small and well timed with rain patterns, it protects you from leaching and groundwater contamination.

So wherever you are, you can use a precision fertigation system to get higher yields, better-quality crops, reduced leaching, reduced volatility and runoff, and a better return on your fertilizer investment.

Effectively Integrating Drip Irrigation & Fertigation into Growing Operations

Posted May 2nd, 2017 by Garden & Greenhouse in Greenhouse & Indoor Gardening Articles, July 2017

With record droughts and water considered to be the next most endangered resource, more efficient methods of irrigation are evolving and finding their way into greenhouses and fields across the globe. Drip irrigation has been around for a surprisingly long time in agricultural history. It started with perforated clay pots and pipes buried underground in China, during the first century BCE. The development of plastic drip tape systems in the mid-twentieth century became one of the most inventive and useful technologies in agriculture since the sprinklers of the 1930’s.

As agriculture adapts to changes in the land, the cost of production and the availability of resources, implementing innovative systems on farms can become a huge relief. It is argued that drip irrigation produces greater, healthier yields and can save growers valuable time. The benefits and ease of use make a drip system a worthwhile consideration if you have not thought of introducing one before.

Fertigation: Fertilizing with Drip

Fertilizer is often over-applied or insufficiently distributed in conventional methods of fertilizing. But fertilizing more precisely can trigger optimal conditions for plants during different life phases. Fertigation is a method of fertilizing that achieves a more precise application. Fertigation is quite simply, adding water-soluble fertilizer to an irrigation system in order to apply exact amounts directly to the root system. While fertigation can be implemented in less effective methods of irrigation, like a sprinkler system, a fertigation system using drip tape is much more efficient.

Increased Efficiency

Drip irrigation provides a direct source of hydration to the root zone. The root system of the plant is therefore able to absorb higher amounts of nutrients. This method is used to keep a strict application regiment and to correct any nutrient deficiencies that can be analyzed through plant tissue. Another benefit of drip tape fertigation is that sometimes fertilizers can contaminate the soil, increasing the risk of soil borne disease. Directing fertilizers and amendments to the root system minimizes the levels of contamination in soil. Drip tape irrigation reduces the contact between water and leaves, stems and fruit, minimizing the development of diseases. Furthermore, because drip tape is directed towards the crop’s roots and eliminates flooding, weed control is a lot easier.

Many growers using a soil medium and drip tape will bury it slightly below the ground and call it subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). SDI should help protect drip tape from sun exposure and damage done by cultivation or weeding. In dry climates, SDI helps to reduce water evaporation and waste by creating an even more direct path to the root system. SDI is more effective than laying drip tape on top of the soil, especially in arid climates. This type of precision modification is a great way to increase efficiency in a drip irrigation system.

Efficiency is a major reason to use drip irrigation systems. Both water application and fertilizer application is much more precise than in traditional overhead watering. Precision creates a more unified and productive crop that performs exceptionally well. On the contrary, traditional watering, like overhead watering or flooding, methods of farming in general are failing in the area of sustainability.

Adaptability

Traditionally, agriculture in America has operated under the assumption that there is a need for flat plots of land for growing, but drip irrigation changes the game. Drip systems are able to adapt to misshapen or uneven fields and soil textures. By replacing overhead sprinklers and flooding techniques with drip tape irrigation, farmers can adapt to using imperfect topography. It is, however, important to measure and get a good reading on how much pressure a system loses as water travels over its distance. Drip tape operates at a lower pressure than traditional sprinklers saving in pumping costs, but without a good understanding of the work a system has to do to reach crops, watering can end up being applied unevenly.

Uneven application can lead to over using fertilizers and amendments. An effective drip tape irrigation system can save on costs of inputs, but also maximize their availability. With countrywide droughts and the most productive agricultural areas bearing the worst of it, water conservation is a huge upside to using drip irrigation. Drip tape systems can use up to 60 to 70 percent less water than traditional irrigation systems and drastically reduce common environmental problems with other irrigation systems, like erosion and leaching.

Drip tape can be set up very simply by building a connected system of plastic pipes that attach to drip lines on one end, and the spigot or water source on the other. A drip system can easily be set up in a single morning. If growers want to automate their irrigation system, adding a computer controller to the system is also a simple step.

Automation

Drip irrigation is really one of the first moves towards automation and precision farming, which are wholly concerned with minimizing both labor costs and resource inputs, like water and fertilizers. Automated and precision farming are preemptive responses to a declining labor force and the reality that if this trend continues, automated technology will have to replace the laborer in order to maintain production.

There are many reasons why one should implement automated drip tape irrigation into a growing operation. The idea behind drip irrigation and fertigation is that a grower using drip irrigation is giving the plant what they need, when they need it and not over applying. With automated systems, sensors pick up on moisture levels of plants, soil or atmosphere and switch on and off according to the input goals set. Automated systems virtually eliminate the need to monitor plant nutrition, so it is a tool that provides a level of efficiency unknown before the technology of today.

Drip & Fertigation Pointers

Now that we’ve explained the benefits and requirements for an efficient drip system, here is an overview of what to consider for the most effective and efficient drip system.

Water Quality

Probably the most important question when setting up any irrigation system is what is the quality of your water source? Making sure your water is safe is incredibly vital if you are growing consumable crops. Test the water with your local water quality company. For the sake of the drip system, you also want clean water to avoid clogging, which can occur within the drip lines or emitters. Keep an eye on your filter and clean it out often to avoid losing pressure.

Pressure

Understand which areas of your system, if any, are losing pressure on the drip tape journey. Aim for consistency throughout the field or greenhouse, so that your recipe for success is matching up to your conditions.

If any grower is looking to lower labor costs and energy, automation of any kind, if affordable, is a huge leg up.

Maintenance

Even with automation, a grower has to oversee their operation to make sure each part is running correctly.

Leaks

Monitor the pressure and look out for leaks. Leaks in a drip system can be easily and quickly repaired with plastic connectors that will cover the leak and connect the split piece, without forcing growers to throw out or replace the leaky tape.

Efficiency

As this is the goal and reason drip tape exists, over-spending on a super advanced drip system may not be most efficient for many growers. Take the suggestion of starting with a simple drip system on smaller acreage, and then expand towards the goal of automation once you have an understanding of your operational needs.

Creating a healthy and steady water supply for plants is vital, especially with the droughts of recent years. Farmers depend upon the success of their production. A drip irrigation system is an excellent addition to a growing operation and will save any farmer hours of manual watering and gallons of wasted overhead water. For those ready to step into the 21st century with automation, environmental controllers can automate everything from ventilation to drip and fertigation systems in a greenhouse. Drip system components are easy to find and just as easy to repair.

Adapt to your operational needs and custom build a drip tape system. With technology that has persisted for thousands of years, drip irrigation is an ingenious solution to a growing concern for water waste and efficiency.

Amanda Williams is a content writer for GrowSpan, which specializes in greenhouses and growing solutions. She is an experienced grower and owner of Town Farm in Ledyard, Connecticut.

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Fertigation is the type of fertilization in which fertilizers are applied through an irrigation system directly to the plant roots. This is the most advanced and efficient fertilization practice. Even ancient farmers have recognized this farm practice as very efficient and useful for successful crop production.

Broadcast fertilization leaves a considerable fraction of the fertilizer on the soil surface. Because of this, the plant is not able to use all of nutrients because they are not in the plant root zone, making them inaccessible. Therefore, fertigation has shown to be a much better practice to fertilize crops.

Fertigation may be practiced under any irrigation system:

  • Sprinkler irrigation
  • Surface irrigation
  • Drip irrigation.

Fertilizers applied with drip irrigation can provide plants with a more uniform nutrient distribution in the field due to more efficient water use.

Moreover, drip irrigation doesn’t wet foliage thus reduces disease occurrence. Additionally, with this type of irrigation, there is no chance of run-off and the possible effects of wind are significantly decreased.

The result is quality crops and high yields, and most importantly, a minimal risk of environmental pollution by plant nutrients.

How Does It Work?

Fertigation is the combination of irrigation and fertilization. To apply fertilizers through the irrigation pipes, special fertilizer injectors must be installed to the irrigation system. This is a simple process that doesn’t require much time.

In fertigation, various nutrients can be added to plants, whether macro- or micronutrients. It primarily depends on the crop type and the crop’s growth stage.

Why Use Fertigation?

Fertigation is a great farm practice that will ensure plants optimal crop nutrition and boost the crop yield, while minimizing environmental pollution. Other benefits of this farm practice include:

  • Rational and frequent nutrient supply according to the crop’s needs
  • Efficient plant nutrient use
  • Nutrient application at the active plant root zone
  • Ability for plants to use nutrients immediately after application
  • Easy control of timing, amount, and ratio of applied nutrients
  • The ability to apply nutrients at any moment; especially when field conditions are not favorable for standard fertilization practices.

Essential Factors to Consider for Proper Fertigation Management

Prior to fertilizing crops through an irrigation system, a farmer needs to consider the following factors which, if not carried out properly, can negatively affect the crop growth and the entire crop production:

Fertilizer selection

  • In fertigation, either water-soluble or liquid fertilizers can be used. When choosing a proper fertilizer, crop growth stages should be considered, as well as irrigation system type and water quality.

Fertilizer solubility

  • Mixing of two or more fertilizers significantly reduces their solubility. Solubility can be increased with temperature. Fertilizers should be dissolved separately and then added into the water tank.

Fertilizer compatibility

  • Fertilizer compatibility can affect availability and uptake by the plant, therefore prior to fertilizer mixing a farmer should check their compatibility

Irrigation water pH

  • Water pH has a great effect on the availability of residual nutrients in the soil. Hence, irrigation water needs to be within a pH range of 5.5-7.0. Too high of a pH may reduce the availability of essential plant nutrients such as phosphorus, zinc, and iron. On the other hand, a pH that is too low may increase aluminum and manganese concentration in the soil, thus negatively affecting the crop growth.

Fertigation schedule

  • In fertigation, accurate fertilizer application greatly determines fertigation management. A fertigation schedule will vary based on crop growth stages and soil properties, along with the irrigation system and climatic conditions.

Disadvantages of Fertigation as a Farm Practice

  • A well-designed irrigation system is required to ensure appropriate fertilizer distribution
  • The cost for installation of fertilizer injectors on the existing irrigation system
  • High labor cost due to frequent fertilizer mixing and applying
  • Possible negative effects on plants and soil due to improper use.

Fertigation is a farm practice used worldwide to enhance crop production. It is notable for providing optimum concentrations and quantities of nutrients directly into the plant root zone. Successful fertigation management requires much planning and many factors must be considered prior to fertigating plants. In doing so, a farmer can achieve quality crops and a high yield.

Farming is changing due to the development of improved and modern farm solutions, such as modern fertigation. Therefore, in aiming to enhance the yield and crop production as a whole, farmers have to accept modern farm solutions and change their way of farm management to include elements that are more efficient and sustainable.

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Text sources: International Potash Institute || Christmas Tree || Research Gate

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BEST FERTIGATION PRACTICES

In fertigation, fertilizers are delivered through the irrigation water. The use of fertigation enables for highly accurate nutrient supply to plants. Small and frequent applications of fertilizers, in exact amounts that meet crop requirements, increase the efficiency of nutrient uptake and minimizes nutrient loses. However, using fertigation requires careful management and many factors must be taken into consideration.

PPROPORTIONAL FERTIGATION VS. QUANTITATIVE FERTIGATION

Basically, there are two fertigation methods: proportional fertigation and quantitative fertigation.

A bypass fertilizer tank Venturi Injector

Quantitative fertigation – specific amounts of fertilizers are applied to a given area through the irrigation water. Nutrient requirements are usually expressed in amount/area units, such as Kg/ha, lbs/acre etc.

A by-pass fertilizer tank is the simplest way to apply fertilizers through the irrigation water. Injection of the fertilizer is not proportional to the water discharge rate. As the dilution ratio and rate of injection are not constant, fertilizer concentration is high at the beginning and decreases as irrigation progresses.

Proportional fertigation – The application amount of nutrients is proportional to the water discharge rate. Therefore, nutrient requirements and fertilizer application rates can be expressed as concentrations in the irrigation water. For example, mg/liter (=ppm), mmol/liter etc.

In proportional fertigation, fertilizer injectors are used, such as venturi and positive displacement pumps. The total amount of a nutrient applied per unit area can be evaluated by multiplying the concentration of the nutrient in the irrigation water by the total volume of water applied.

For example, if irrigation water contains 50 mg/liter of nitrogen and the volume of water applied is 30 m3/ha, then the total amount of nitrogen applied per hectare is:

FERTIGATION UNIFORMITY

The fertigation method used and the way it is practiced affect the uniformity of the fertilizer application. Uniformity allows for better distribution of the nutrients in the root zone and better efficiency.

For example, applying most of the fertilizer in the beginning of the irrigation results in fertilizer losses, as the fertilizers will leach below the root zone as irrigation continues. In contrast, applying the fertilizer amount at the end of the irrigation might result in salt accumulation in the root zone. Higher concentrations of fertilizers might accumulate at the top-soil or media, not being uniformly distributed throughout the root zone.

It is easier to achieve uniformity using fertilizer injectors, i.e through proportional fertigation.

HOW DOES THE LENGTH OF THE PIPLINE AFFECT FERTIGATION EFFICIENCY?

Another factor that must be considered is the length of the pipelines. The pipeline may contain a considerable amount of water. Fertilizers that are injected at the beginning of the line might not reach the emitters if the pipeline is too long.

Here is an example: Assume that the length of the main line from the injection point to the plot is 300 meters and that the pipe diameter is 8 inches (20.32 cm). The pipe volume is then 8.3 m3.

If the irrigation discharge is 30 m3/ha, it would take the water, with the fertilizers, 16 minutes to reach the plot. This means that the actual application will reach the plot only 16 minutes and 8.3 m3 AFTER irrigation started.

Such an amount of water may be significant in relation to the total amount irrigated. For example, if the total irrigation amount for that plot is 40 m3, about 30% of the fertilizer will remain in the pipeline and never reach the plot.

The best practice would be to inject the fertilizers uniformly throughout the entire irrigation. Flushing the irrigation line at the end of the irrigation is also a good practice. However, the pipeline length and volume should be considered.

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How To Make The Most Of Your In-Ground Irrigation System In Spring

Spring seems to finally have sprung and the grass is beginning to grow and green up which means this is the perfect time to give your lawn a leg-up on summer! Your in-ground irrigation system can do more than keep your lawn and garden soil moist. Here are our top tips for making the most of your Burlington irrigation system when it comes to spring lawn care.

How To Tell If Your Lawn Has Grubs And How To Get Rid Of Them

Grubs are the infant-stage for some common bugs in southern Ontario like June bugs, European chafer and the Japanese beetle. These little guys can do a lot of damage to your lawn if left unchecked. You may be tipped off to a grub problem if you’re finding dead patches in your once-beautiful and healthy grass. Another telltale sign is seeing holes dug in the lawn in the morning by animals (skunks in particular – not the guys you want hanging around your yard at night) looking for a tasty grub to eat. Skunks go where the food is – they’re opportunistic like that and as long they keep finding grubs in your lawn they’re going to keep coming back.

The best way to tell if grubs are infiltrating your lawn is to lift up a small section of your grass and soil and take a look.

How To Eliminate Grubs

If you’re sure you have a grub problem, even if the problem is currently isolated to a small section of your lawn, you want to address it sooner than laterbefore it gets out of control (or your dog gets sprayed by your nighttime visitors). Grubs and grub-like pests feast on the root systems of your lawn. This means, you have to reseed to get the grass to grow back. Ugh. Who has time for that?

While grub damage, usually, isn’t extensive however the dead patches left behind by the grubs can be an eyesore. Here’s where you in-ground irrigation system can come in handy!

Lawns that receive consistent deep waterings are strong and healthy and can recover from a small bout of grubs. Lawns that don’t receive consistent and deep waterings are vulnerable to pests and disease and the grubs are going to cause far more damage. Grubs do not have to be the cause of your lawn’s demise.

Deep root growth (promoted by consistent and deep waterings) is super important. Another important step your irrigation system can help with is delivering nematodes. This is the season for these little microscopic worms to wriggle into the soil and eat those nasty grubs from the inside out – Alien style. Sounds gross, but nematodes are very, very small natural predators that are totally SAFE for pet, pets, child – basically anything except grubs. Once they’ve exhausted the supply of grubs in your lawn, they’ll move on. Everybody wins!

Nematodes need to be applied via a concentrated spray and your irrigation system can provide the necessary moisture to deliver these little wriggly heroes to their proper destination – the root level of soil on your lawn. Don’t wait for mother nature to provide the kind of rain you need for nematodes to be effective! Apply them when it’s convenient for you!

Fertigation – Another Way Your Irrigation System Can Boost Your Spring Lawn

Do you wish your garden plants looked as good as the ones at the nursery or greenhouse? Do you wish your lawn looked as thick and green as fresh-laid sod? You need to fertilize the way farmers and garden centres do with inline fertilizer using your irrigation system – or fertigation.

Fertigation is the process of adding liquid fertilizer to your irrigation system. While you water your garden or lawn, you can also add the nutrients it needs to perform better and look great! Fertigation can be used in residential or commercial applications and has been used in commercial agriculture and gardening for many years.

5 Benefits To Using Your Irrigation System To Apply Fertilizer
Use Less Fertilizer

Residential irrigation systems require liquid fertilizer that needs to be diluted further before application. This means that to apply the fertilizer in the same concentrations as dry synthetic fertilizers, you’ll need to purchase a lot more liquid fertilizer. However, by applying fertilizer each time you water, plants receive less per application but receive it consistently over the season. Used this way, you’ll use 70-90% less fertilizer.

More Effective

Applying liquid fertilizer via your irrigation system in smaller amounts over the course of the season means your plants can absorb all the nutrients more efficiently. There’s no waste. Fertigation delivers the nutrients right to the roots so there’s less chance of incorrect application or damage.

Use Less Water

Applying dry fertilizer on top of the soil requires a lot of water to dissolve the particles for absorption. If insufficient water is used, the fertilizer can burn your plants or make them prone to disease that’s very difficult to eradicate. Who has time for that? With fertigation, you’re not applying any additional water, only what your irrigation system would normally supply but in a controlled consistent application.

No Fertilizer Run-Off

The dangers of fertilizer run-off are well documented however, if applying fertilizer to hills or slopes, run-off into city water supplies is a risk and environmental hazard. By fertilizing at root-depth in small amounts there is no run off or environmental danger.

Reduce Transplant Shock

You’ve invested in new plants and want to give them the best start possible. You are sure to give them a little extra water, so why not add the fertilizer to the water? There’s less shock to the plant between the container soil and the soil in your yard this way and helps plants send out strong roots.

Spring Lawn Care Tips

Typically, spring lawn care begins in May in southern Ontario. Sure, sometimes April is warm enough for the grass to green up a little, but rushing out to cut your grass too soon often just gives the weeds the head start by exposing bare patches of soil to the sun.

Rake Your Lawn

Isn’t raking your lawn something for the fall? Yes, but it’s also a great idea to do it in May as well. Why? Breaking up thatch (dead organic material that covers the soil) and moss problems while the soil is still moist can help your grass spread out. You want to create the perfect conditions for your lawn’s root system to spread and grow thick to choke out pests and fend off disease.

After a good rake, apply some grass seed to fill in the gaps and make sure grass is what grows up in those bare patches of soil.

Lawn Mowing

Even though in April your grass may look like it’s growing, it could just be the weeds getting a head start. You need to give your lawn enough time to awake from its dormancy period before giving the grass a cut. Don’t be tempted to cut your grass too short, thinking you’re giving your lawn a chance to breathe. You should only be cutting off the top one-third of the grass blade with each cutting. Too short, and you’re giving weeds the opportunity to grow, drying out the soil too much and leaving room for insect infestation.

Insects

We covered the damage from grubs above, but another potential threat to your lawn is from leatherjackets. These are the larvae of the European Crane Fly. You’ve seen these guys around even if you didn’t know what to call them. They’re large mosquito-resembling insects clinging to the outside walls of your home, or hanging off your screen doors. They lay their eggs in the moist soil in the spring and the leatherjackets feed off the grass, chewing the blades down to the ground. Keeping the ground irrigated will force the leatherjackets to move to hard surfaces, making them targets for birds or drying out in the sun.

The sprinkler system experts at Nutri-Lawn Burlington Irrigation can help you take the guess work out of irrigation for your home or business and we offer the major brands with professional expertise. Contact us today for your complimentary quote.

Water saving, yield and profit under drip and drip fertigation systems

Fertigation

Fertigation is a method of fertilizer application in which fertilizer is incorporated within the irrigation water by the drip system. In this system fertilizer solution is distributed evenly in irrigation. The availability of nutrients is very high therefore the efficiency is more. In this method liquid fertilizer as well as water soluble fertilizers are used. By this method, fertilizer use efficiency is increased from 80 to 90 per cent.

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Fertigation Micro Irrigation and Fertigation

Fertilizer efficiencies of various application methods

Nutrient Fertilizer use efficiency (%)
Soil application Fertigation
Nitrogen 30-50 95
Phosphorous 20 45
Potassium 50 80

Advantages of fertigation

  • Nutrients and water are supplied near the active root zone through fertigation which results in greater absorption by the crops.
  • As water and fertilizer are supplied evenly to all the crops through fertigation there is possibility for getting 25-50 per cent higher yield.
  • Fertilizer use efficiency through fertigation ranges between 80-90 per cent, which helps to save a minimum of 25 per cent of nutrients.
  • By this way, along with less amount of water and saving of fertilizer, time, labour and energy use is also reduced substantially.
Crops Water Saving (%) Yield (t/ha) Profit (Rs/ha)
Conventional Drip Drip+
Fertgn
Conventional Drip Drip +
Fertgn
Banana 35 26 30 37 81000 98000 120000
Sugarcane 29 120 160 207 30000 47000 68000
Tomato 32 45 56 65 56000 77000 95000

Fertilizer used in fertigation

  • Urea, potash and highly water soluble fertilizers are available for applying through fertigation.
  • Application of super phosphorus through fertigation must be avoided as it makes precipitation of phosphate salts. Thus phosphoric acid is more suitable for fertigation as it is available in liquid form.
  • Special fertilisers like mono ammonium phosphate (Nitrogen and Phosphorus), poly feed (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium), Multi K (Nitrogen and Potassium), Potassium sulphate (Potassium and Sulphur) are highly suitable for fertigation0 as they are highly soluble in water. Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, B, Mo are also supplied along with special fertilisers.

Fertilizers commonly used in fertigation

Name N – P2O5 – K2O content Solubility
(g/l) at 20 C
Ammonium nitrate
Ammonium sulphate
Urea
Monoammonium phosphate
Diammonium phosphate
Potassium chloride
Potassium nitrate
Potassium sulphate
Monopotassium phosphate
Phosphoric acid
34-0-0
21-0-0
46-0-0
12-61-0
18-46-0
0-0-60
13-0-44
0-0-50
0-52-34
0-52-0
1830
760
1100
282
575
347
316
110
230
457

Specialty water soluble fertilizers

Name N % P2O5 % K2O %
Polyfeed 19 19 19
Polyfeed 20 20 20
Polyfeed 11 42 11
Polyfeed 16 8 24
Polyfeed 19 19 19
Polyfeed 15 15 30
MAP 12 61 0
Multi-K 13 0 46
MKP 0 52 34
SOP 0 0 50

N fertigation

Urea is well suited for injection in micro irrigation system. It is highly soluble and dissolves in non-ionic form, so that it does not react with other substances in the water. Also urea does not cause precipitation problems. Urea, ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulphate, calcium ammonium sulphate, calcium ammonium nitrate are used as nitrogenous fertilizers in drip fertigation.

P fertigation

Application of phosphorus to irrigation water may cause precipitation of phosphate salts. Phosphoric acid and mono ammonium phosphate appears to be more suitable for fertigation.

K fertigation

Application of K fertilizer does not cause any precipitation of salts. Potassium nitrate, Potassium chloride, Potassium sulphate and mono potassium phosphate are used in drip fertigation.

Micro nutrients

Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, B, Mo could be used as micro nutrients in drip fertigation.

Fertigation equipments

Three main groups of equipments used in drip system are :

  • Ventury
  • Fertilizer tank
  • Fertilizer pump

Ventury

Construction in the main water flow pipe causes a pressure difference (Vaccum) which is sufficient to suck fertilizer solution from an open container into the water flow. It is very easy to handle and it is affordable even by small farmers. This equipment is most suitable for smaller area.

Fertilizer tank

A tank containing fertilizer solution is connected to the irrigation pipe at the supply point. Part of the irrigation water is diverted through the tank diluting the nutrient solution and returning to the main supply pipe. The concentration of fertilizer in the tank thus becomes gradually reduced.

Fertilizer pump

The fertilizer pump is a standard component of the control head. The fertilizer solution is held in non-pressurised tank and it can be injected into the irrigation water at any desired ratio. Therefore the fertilizer availability to each plants is maintained properly.

Cost of fertigation equipments

Sl.No. Fertigation devices Cost (Rs.)
1. Ventury type 1200
2. Fertilizer Tank 3000
3. Injectors 12000

Economics of drip irrigation system

The initial investment in drip irrigation system is mainly depends upon the spacing of crops. The initial cost will be almost 20-25 thousand rupees per hectare for wider spacing crops such as coconut, mango, grapes and for orchard crops. The initial cost is approximately 50-70 thousand rupees per hectare for close spacing crops such as sugarcane, banana, papaya, mulberry, turmeric, tapioca, vegetables and flower crops.

Fertigation features a host of added value

Fertigation is a technique by which soluble fertilizers are mixed with the irrigation water to enhance crop production. It is a highly effective and flexible tool for controlling placement, timing and nutrient application method. This enables precise nutrition to be applied according to the soil fertility status and growth stage of any crop.

ICL Specialty Fertilizers sets the standard in fertigation fertilizer technology. The focus of this technology is on the acidifying effect that produces a range of benefits:

  • Enhance nutrient uptake: Acidifies the soil environment, which increases the availability and uptake of P and micronutrients.
  • Lower pH: Reduces water pH by being applied directly to hard water.
  • Avoid clogging: Provides acidity to neutralise and dissolve bicarbonates, avoiding clogging of drippers and pipes.

ICL Specialty Fertilizers uses PeKacid™ in its formulations.

The benefits of fertigation fertilizer technology:

  • Nutrients are applied at the exactly the rate needed by the plant in its actual growth stage, preventing deficiencies even at periods of high nutrients uptake.
  • The nutrients are applied uniformly across the irrigated area.
  • The grower can immediately respond to environmental changes that may affect the plant nutrients requirements profile.
  • Fertigation allows for reduced soil salinity, sodicity or acidity.
  • Fertigation can be used for all types of irrigation systems and growth conditions.

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