Fertigation is the injection of fertilizers into an irrigation system. Fertigation involves the injection of soluble fertilizers and other soil amendments into the flowing water in an irrigation system.
Fertigation is usually used in drip irrigation systems. The venturi injector or fertilizer injector or dosing pump is used in sucking the fertilizer solution from a reservoir and injecting it into the flowing water in the irrigation lines or pipes.
Fertigation is similar to Chemigation. The former is the injection of fertilizers into an irrigation system while the latter is the injection of chemicals likes pesticides and herbicides into an irrigation system.
Fertigation and Chemigation are strongly advised to be practiced while using drip irrigation systems.
Types of fertilizers that can be used for Fertigation
The following are some of the fertilizers that can be used while fertigating:
NPK fertilizers are fertilizers with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium nutrients. This type of fertilizers can be fertigated in an irrigation system.
NPK fertilizers to be used for Fertigation must be soluble in water.
Urea is one of the most popular nitrogen fertilizers in the world. It is soluble in water; therefore, it can be used for Fertigation.
This type of fertilizers has nitrogen in nitrate form and also potassium. It’s a high value fertilizer that can be used for Fertigation.
Potassium nitrate is water soluble, it is usually used to increase the flowering and fruiting processes of crops.
Calcium nitrate fertilizer contains calcium and nitrogen nutrients. It is soluble in water and can be used for Fertigation.
Other fertilizers that can be used for Fertigation are:
- Mono-Ammonium Phosphate
- Mono-Potassium Phosphate
- Calcium Magnesium Nitrate (CALMAG)
- Potassium Chloride
- Calcium Ammonium Nitrate
- Humates etc.
Advantages of Fertigation
The following are the advantages of Fertigation:
- Fertigation reduces the volume of fertilizers to use for crops whilst at the same time improving yield.
- Better fertilizer absorption
- Reduced possibility of leaching as nutrients fertigated are used by the crops almost immediately.
- The time to apply the fertilizers can be better managed. Fertilizers can be applied at exactly the stage or time, the plants need them.
- Fertigation and fertilizer application process can be automated.
- Fertilizers can be applied at small doses intermittently, this can significantly increase crop yield.
Disadvantages of Fertigation
- Fertigating equipment can be expensive for poor farmers
- If the water source for domestic use and Fertigation are not separated, the fertilizer may contaminate the water source.
Methods used for Fertigation
The following methods can be used for Fertigation:
- Injection of nutrients into the drip irrigation lines through the venturi injector or dosing pump. The drip tapes will release the nutrients to the root zones of plants through the emitters.
- Fertigation through sprinklers, this is used for foliar application of nutrients to the leaves and the stems of plants.
- Continuous Fertigation used for hydroponic systems, in hydroponic systems, plants can be fertigated every minute, every hour or as the need arises.
Fertigation is very useful in farming as it can significantly increase yield. Crop yield can rise as high as 100% if fertigation is used. It should be noted that fertigation can also be called nutrigation.