Conventional and organic farmers alike must continuously look for ways to improve the quality of their crops and the sustainability of their land as they adapt to ever-changing environmental conditions with their fertilization program and use of other inputs.
Fertigation, the process that combines fertilization and irrigation by injecting inputs to an irrigation system, is purported to maintain precise targeting benefits over traditional fertilization approaches. There is a multitude of irrigation methods – surface, drip, lateral move, sprinkler, and sub irrigation to name a few. And all have various pros and cons for farmers to consider as they look at ways to improve the efficient use of their natural resources.
When injecting fertilizers with an irrigation system – for example by using a drip system, farmers are able to maintain uniformity of fertilizer dose. Farmers can apply fertilizers at the time nutrients are needed most – based on a plant’s growth cycle, plus they can schedule or adapt according to other environmental conditions. And because the fertilizers in a fertigation system are water soluble and delivered via irrigation, they may be easily absorbed by plants and reach the root zone faster.
Fertigation often reduces the amount of fertilizer needed for crops. And there is typically less labor involved with fertigation methods. Many users can see higher quality and increased production with fertigation. And most will say a combination of fertilization systems is best. For example granular application can happen early in the season, and later in the season fortify the crop’s nutrient requirements through fertigation and foliar application.
Fertigation is an exciting and opportunistic piece of the input puzzle. Why? The answer is that the technology to deliver fertigation can be quite advanced, allowing farmers to monitor or control their systems remotely, in real time and from anywhere in the world. But there is a definite lack of quality, organic fertigation products on the market that actually contribute to the sustainability of a grower’s land in an efficient and economical way.
Conventional farmers know there is an abundance of synthetic inputs, but those do little to add to sustainability – often with the opposite effect. Organic growers know that the majority of organic products currently available are produced from animal by-products, some of which are appropriate for delivery via fertigation methods. However, there is sometimes concern over the possible harmful effects from animal by-products on crops such as toxicity and salinity. And many organic producers prefer their fertilizers come from vegetal sources to minimize these threats and to satisfy vegetarian needs. Aside from the use of molasses in fertigation – which carries its share of salinity risk, no organic and 100% vegetal-based options are available for fertigation input.
At least, not yet. Stay tuned, though. We have some exciting new products coming soon!