Fertigation as a Precision Agriculture Tool

Fertigation is a fertilizer application method in which dissolved fertilizers are delivered to the crop through the irrigation system.
This technology provides the opportunity to apply precise rates of water and fertilizers to the crop, and therefore, if designed correctly, can be an important precision agriculture technology.

Usually, concentrated fertilizer solutions are prepared in stock tanks, and are then injected into the irrigation water, using fertilizer injectors. The irrigation system can be drip irrigation, sprinkler system, pivot, or different configurations of hydroponic systems.

What are the properties of fertigation that make it a precision agriculture technology?

Precise amount. Fertigation allows precise and targeted application of water and fertilizers to the root system. Unlike broadcast fertilizer application, drip irrigation allows for precise amounts of water and fertilizers to be applied in close proximity to the root zone of each plant.

Precise time. Nutrients can be applied at the time they are most needed by the crop. In the absence of a fertigation system, it is difficult, or even impossible, to apply fertilizers when plants are larger and access to the field is limited. In such cases, fertilizers are often applied too early, resulting in losses of nutrients due to leaching, run-off, volatilization etc.

In most types of fertigation, this limitation does not exist. Once the fertigation system is installed, fertilizers can be easily applied at the right growing stage, according to the requirements of the crop.

Applying precise rates of fertilizers. Advanced fertigation systems can reach high-accurate application rates by using high-tech equipment, such as injectors and computerized control systems, which are carefully calibrated and adjusted. Automatic adjustment of injection ratios of the fertilizer solutions from the stock tanks to the irrigation water relies on input from EC and pH sensors, as well as water and fertilizer flow meters.

In addition, more than one stock tank can be used, giving the grower the flexibility to apply different combinations of nutrients to different plots, or at different times, by adjusting a different injection ratio for each tank.

Nutrient availability and uptake efficiency are better. Because fertilizers are dissolved in irrigation water, nutrients can be instantly absorbed by the plant, as soon as they are applied.

What are the limitations for using fertigation in precision agriculture?

The limitations for using fertigation in precision agriculture are often a result of the fertigation system design:

  • The field units, or field sections are usually pre-determined. Although each of those field sections can be managed separately, it is often difficult to respond to variations within that field section.
  • Except for a few startups, most of the existing fertigation systems do not yet have the capability of using feedback from sensors installed in the field and adjust fertilizer rates accordingly.
  • When the variability between fields in the farm is high (different types of crops, different growth stages, different soil conditions etc.), having one set of stock tanks for each irrigation head is not always flexible enough to apply precise fertilizer rates and nutrient ratios for the different field sections.

To summarize, fertigation holds a potential to be considered a precision agriculture technology. By choosing the system that is most adequate to the crop and field conditions and by designing it correctly, very high precision fertilization and irrigation can be achieved.

Leave a Reply

Precision Irrigation Stories
Bergwerff-in-field-weather-stations-and-Ranch-Systems-radio-control-module
Industry NewsRanch Systems, IoT Provider Aeris Announce Collaboration Agreement
July 25, 2018
Aeris, a technology provider in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, said today it is collaborating with Ranch Systems of Read More
Nebraska-Storm
Precision IrrigationNotes from the Field: A Look at Irrigation Management Practices in Nebraska
July 2, 2018
One of the things I love most about my work is making periodic treks into the field – more often Read More
Precision Irrigation
Data ManagementAgGateway Submits Irrigation Data Standard to ASABE
March 19, 2018
AgGateway has submitted its proposed irrigation data exchange standard to the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), a Read More
Precision IrrigationLindsay Event Puts Focus on Precision Irrigation and Smart Farming Practices
March 7, 2018
Lindsay Corp., a leading global manufacturer and distributor of irrigation and infrastructure equipment and technology, today hosted Water Matters 3.6.18 Read More
Trending Articles
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower-Retailer
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Blockchain building block graphic
Specialty CropsIs Blockchain the Future of Food Safety?
August 24, 2018
When the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized in 1982, permitting the worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks and eventually the Read More
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in $20 Million Deal
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
Latest News
Business ManagementIvy Tech, Farmers Partner to Help Precision Ag Educatio…
September 20, 2018
Harvest time has taken on a new meaning for some Wabash Valley farmers, and Bobbi Hunt-Kincaid hopes her family’s first Read More
Sensors
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil …
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Google-Earth-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementRainfall Revisited: Accurate Observations and Beyond
September 18, 2018
As a provider of weather analysis and forecast services to the agricultural industry, one of the most common questions I Read More
PenelopeNagel
Business ManagementWhy Is Funding a Challenge for Women-Led Agtech Compani…
September 17, 2018
When it comes to women-led agtech companies the funding discussion never seems to cease. In June after the The New Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Decision Support SoftwareWhy Are 570 Million Farmers Not Yet Using Agricultural …
September 17, 2018
Until recently, using agricultural apps and software was a rare practice among growers. This is now changing. The mass adoption Read More
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsDeere-Granular Collaboration Produces New Profit Maps T…
September 14, 2018
The newest development from the ongoing John Deere-Granular product development and marketing collaboration is Profit Maps, now available to farmers Read More
Wingtra
DronesOpinion: Combining Two Pluses with the WingtraOne UAV
September 13, 2018
For the every-day consumer interested in UAVs, there is an ocean of products from which to choose. This includes the Read More
Farmer-tablet
AsiaShould Agri-Input Manufacturers Outsource E-Commerce to…
September 12, 2018
Editor’s note: Venky Ramachandran is a contributing writer for PrecisionAg.com’s sister site, AgriBusinessGlobal.com. This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Now, Read More
ICON-Link-Licensing_featured-image
Industry NewsValley Irrigation Adds Remote Irrigation Management Opt…
September 11, 2018
Valley Irrigation, an industry leader in smart irrigation solutions, has announced enhancements to its remote management technologies. Multi-Year Licensing In Read More
Reflex-Connect-Agri-Inject-featured-image
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable Rate Fertigation System Expands with Mobile Co…
September 10, 2018
Building on the success of its Reflex Variable Rate Fertigation system, Agri-Inject has taken fluid injection to the next level Read More
Industry NewsTeralytic Earns Ag Data Transparent Certification
September 10, 2018
Soil analytics company Teralytic has completed the Ag Data Transparent certification, affirming that their data use is private, secure, and Read More
Business ManagementTop 20 Two-Year Colleges for Precision Agriculture
September 10, 2018
Earlier this year, I compiled a list of the 25 best colleges for precision agriculture. It was quite the process. Read More
Industry NewsRaven, Topcon Announce Slingshot API Agreement
September 6, 2018
Raven Industries and Topcon Agriculture announced today a licensing agreement for Topcon Agriculture’s use of the Slingshot Application Programming Interface Read More
Tablet Grower
Data ManagementThe Power of Predictive Analytics in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Years ago if we would have been told computers, data, and technology would be scattered around every farm there may Read More
DronessenseFly Launches eBee X Drone, Breaks Through 1,000 ac…
September 5, 2018
senseFly today reportedly sets a new standard in mapping tools with the launch of the eBee X. Launched with the Read More
AmericasOn The Scene: 2018 Farm Progress Show Wrap Up
September 5, 2018
Former Monsanto President (now Bayer CropScience Chief Operating Office) Brett Begemann’s opening salvo during his first appearance at a Farm Read More
EventsAg Experts Discuss Big Data Challenges in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Agricultural experts at a Houston conference praised the advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors, and data-collecting technology used in precision Read More