Fertigation has undergone considerable development in the last decade as it has proved to be a winning strategy for managing and increasing the fertility of the land on which our agricultural products are grown. Usually, fertigation is carried out with chemical fertilisers but in synergy with other techniques and with the right products, it can be also used in organic farming.
Fertigation: innovative and synergical technique
Fertigation is an innovative technique that allows the distribution of fertilisers during the irrigation process. Usually for greater system efficiency, this is used with micro-irrigation or drip irrigation, localised irrigation and sub-irrigation.
For a more efficient use of our system it is important to be aware of the following aspects:
- soil fertility and its chemical characteristics;
- nutritional requirements of the crop;
- Water needs.
Once these characteristics have been analysed, it is important to pay attention to the structure of the system so that there are no malfunctions, and in this article, we find out which are the main components of the system –> The fertigation, an advantage of drip irrigation
What are the main advantages of fertigation?
- reduced manpower required for fertiliser distribution;
- less ground trampling;
- reduced splitting of fertilisation and no dispersion of particles in the air;
- more uniform application of fertilisers and no leakage of nutrients;
- possibility to fertilise at any time;
- reduced environmental impact.
The only “disadvantages” we find of this technique are: the possibility of application only to irrigated crops and the need for more technologically advanced equipment.
Different methods of fertiliser injection are available on the market. By dissolving the fertilisers and injecting them at the required dose on the point where they are most needed (roots), it has been shown that in many different crops, as tomatoes, onions or even maize, fertigation has increased the quality and quantity of yields compared to traditional fertilisation (up to 30-40%).
In any case, attention must be paid to possible pollution resulting from incorrect management of irrigation and associated fertigation, which can result in groundwater contamination. In the Code of Good Agricultural Practice (COGAP) it is suggested that fertilisation should be carried out a little earlier than required with systems that ensure high water distribution efficiency.
Furthermore, fertigation, being a technique in continuous development and thanks to the willingness to experiment and improve cultivation techniques and the integration of production with respect for the environment, is progressing rapidly towards the EU objectives of reducing the use of plant protection products by 50% and chemical fertilisers by 20% by 2030.
Soil, an essential resource for organic farming
Organic farming considers the soil to be a renewable and fertile resource. Therefore it must be preserved and improved for the benefit of future generations, following certain criteria such as crop rotation, plant cover or even the use of organic material from organic farms in the surrounding area.
Fertigation, as a plant nutrition management technique, focuses on the needs of the crop but everything depends on the soil. In fact, this technique is mainly used in sandy soils that are poor in organic matter.
The traditional technique involving synthetic soluble fertilisers cannot be introduced in organic systems due to the ban on their use, but they can be replaced by organic fertilisers such as supernat, fluid blood or protein hydrolysates that release nitrogen and other nutrients in the short term.
Organic farming and fertigation: how to achieve best results
Organic farming is recognised as an agricultural method that exploits the natural fertility of the soil. This is achieved by limiting outside intervention, promoting biodiversity, ecological balance and appropriate use of energy and natural resources.
Those who embark on organic farming are required to preserve local ecological balances, improve soil fertility and ensure water conservation. These objectives can also be achieved through the use of organic fertigation as a nutrient technology.
Localised irrigation, on the other hand, guarantees savings in energy and resources. Water saving especially, of up to 70% and helps us, together with fertigation, to increase the fertility of the soil where our crop is located.
The nutrients in localised irrigation are in liquid form and not in granules as originally, but the principles of fertilisation remain the same, with a few additional arrangements. Fertigation should be carried out when the soil is moist and never dry, to avoid roots burns. It is also advisable to water the plant with only water the day before and then with diluted fertiliser the day after. Fertilisers, which should be applied during the coolest hours of the day, are assimilated immediately by the plants and, if the quantity is correct, do not remain in the soil.
If powdered fertiliser is used, it is also good practice to dissolve it in a small amount of water and then add the remaining water; a [useful tip] is to use lukewarm water to facilitate the work.
Localised irrigation and organic fertigation – a winning duo
As water becomes less and less available, its consumption must be proportionate and controlled. Through drip irrigation, we optimise the use of this resource and make it possible to meticulously control the nutrient supply to our crops. Fertigation, when used in conjunction with other irrigation techniques such as sprinkling, can cause fungal and bacterial diseases as well as create a surface crust on the soil, which can lead to difficulties in plant growth such as root asphyxia and lack of oxygen.
Fertigation, combined with drip irrigation, appears to bring considerable benefits to organic farmers by avoiding yield and soil fertility issues over which they often have no power.
A good irrigation system, as already mentioned at the beginning, together with organic fertilisers approved for organic cultivation, allows maximum results to be achieved, excluding occlusion and other issues.
Valducci has been committed for decades to offer its customers the best irrigation tools to improve farmers’ lives.
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