A correct fertigation produces robust and healthy plants
Today’s technology makes it possible for us to irrigate a field without wasting a single drop of water. At the same time, it lets us apply the exact amount of fertilizer for the proper development of each plant, increasing the quality and productivity of the harvest.
Nowadays, water is a very expensive asset, especially in arid zones or places where other agricultural endeavors are underway, and water may be scarce. Arial aspersion or manual application of fertilizers is prohibitive, given the amount of fertilizer lost and the extent of labor needed to fertilize a plot. Moreover, due to a lack of control over the amounts of fertilizers distributed, growth of the plants is not uniform and, hence, either is production. The use of fertigation systems has changed all this, giving growers the possibility of controlling not only the effective application of precise amounts of fertilizers, but also of water per plot and per cultivated plant. This eliminates the human error factor while also reducing the potential development of diseases and avoiding parasites attracted by excess moisture in the field.
Fertigation equipment is unquestionably one of the best investments that farmers can make to increase their harvests, while reducing their costs. The cost of the equipment cannot be determined at a simple glance; it is necessary to conduct a field study to determine the topography of the terrain, the availability of water, water quality, and the type of existing installations, such as greenhouses, open fields, etc. Once the fertigation expert verifies these aspects, equipment needs can be determined for the proposed field.
In general, fertigation equipment requires:
- Water filters to prevent materials in the water from clogging the water emitters, which would keep the plants from receiving water and fertilizer;
- A water pump, if the permanent water source is not at least 33 feet higher than the field;
- Air valves to remove air that accumulates in the tubing and the drip tape;
- An irrigation head that distributes the water to the plots that will be irrigated;
- The fertilizer injector;
- The chemical injector;
- The primary and secondary tubing plus the drip tape and the emitters that bring the water and fertilizer products to the plants.
Key for optimal functioning of this system is the maintenance and cleaning of the equipment, since sometimes organic residue in the water, along with chemicals and fertilizers, stay in the tape and clog the emitters. This reduces or even completely shuts off the flow of water to some plants, causing losses to the harvests. It is also important to monitor the systems so that each plant will receive the amount of water and fertilizer it needs and nothing more. This precaution saves water and fertilizers while contributing to plant health.
- Lower consumption of water than with traditional systems. Application of the amount of water each plant needs, depending upon its type and the expected evo-transpiration in the zone;
- Precise distribution of fertilizers at the foot of the plant, making the fertilizers immediately accessible to the root system;
- The same system can be used for applying chemicals and pesticides to the field;
- Reduction of unnecessary moisture in the field, since the irrigation is localized plant by plant. This reduces soil compacting on pathways and furrow ridges, inhibits the growth of weeds, and deters the appearance of diseases that proliferate when the ground or the plant has too much moisture;
- Allows for irrigation, fertilization, and chemigation of the field precisely when needed;
- Reduces the need for personnel to perform the work of irrigation, fertilization, and chemigation;
- Although the initial cost might be considered high, the system has a life ranging from ten to fifteen years, which means that it will pay for itself in a short time span, after which it will solely generate profits and savings;
- It increases the quality and the quantity of the harvests each year, while keeping costs controlled.
- It involves a cost for its design, equipment, and installation that could be considered high, and which may exceed the budget considered by the farmer. As a result, it is sometimes necessary to design the complete system, but implement it in parts in accordance with the available budget;
- It requires a specialized person to design and install the system;
- It requires the personnel who operate it to receive special training for its operation and for ongoing preventive maintenance;
- The farm work must be carefully performed around the plants and in the places where the equipment is installed to keep from damaging the tubing or irrigation tape;
- It requires a constant, permanent, clean source of water, even though filters remove most of the particles that could clog the emitters;
- It requires the use of fertilizers and chemicals designed to be used in drip irrigation systems. It is not recommended to use products that are not designed for drip irrigation systems, since that could clog the emitters.
Use of drip irrigation systems for chemigation and fertigation provides the answer to many of the problems that modern farmers face, especially when they manage large land areas. These systems not only save money by reducing expenses for fertilizers, chemicals, and water, but also reduce the need for labor to perform those tasks. Fertigation produces robust, healthy plants of a consistent size, since the fertilizer is applied directly to the root, where the plant takes better and quicker advantage of it. This results in larger, better quality harvests per acre than any other irrigation and fertilization system. By reducing the quantity of personnel in constant contact with the plants, it also reduces the risk of infections and diseases carried on their clothing and work boots.
This approach allows growers to irrigate or fertilize their fields at the optimal time, instead of waiting until they have sufficient personnel to do so using other irrigation systems. Drip irrigation allows growers to irrigate and fertilize at any time, since no more than three employees are needed to irrigate a field of any size. In addition to providing tremendous savings on labor expenses, it makes it possible to fertilize, apply pesticides, and irrigate when best suited for the plant.
By using a drip irrigation and fertilization system, farmers also contribute to preserving the environment. Use of the system prevents chemicals and fertilizers from being washed away with the excess water and ending up in rivers and streams or leaching into groundwater sources. Use of an irrigation, fertigation, and chemigation system has many more advantages than disadvantages and is worth the effort involved in its purchase, because it improves crop yields and keeps our planet clean.
Crop Nutritional Monitoring
With Crop Nutritional Monitoring (CNM) system AGQ Labs has been monitoring and evaluating the chemical needs of crops for over 25 years and we have helped clients around the world increase crop production, improve product quality and size, optimize fertilizer and water usage, control salinity and establish zero pesticide leaching methods.
AGQ Labs continuously evaluates what the crop always needs. Throughout the campaign we monitor the water and nutrient uptake of the crop and advise our clients on how to adjust their irrigation and fertilizers to the optimal level. This type of control also allows AGQ Labs’ clients to follow sustainable agricultural practice because leaching is minimized. The result is:
- Minimizing environmental impact
- Optimization of fertigation
- Higher quality product
- Significant cost savings in fertilizers
- Increased productivity and performance
AGQ Labs has developed an internal proprietary procedure for crop nutritional monitoring and control that is based on the analysis of soil solutions that are extracted by AGQ Labs’ patented suction lysimeter probes. AGQ Labs’ Crop Nutritional Monitoring Program is based on the comprehensive control of the Soil-Plant-Water system. AGQ Labs’ quality seal certifies farms are using sustainable agricultural practices that guarantees the farm is using fertilizers, water, and pesticides efficiently and minimizing their impact on the environment.
Our warranty is based on the know-how accumulated by AGQ Labs during the past 25 years around the globe. At this time, AGQ Labs has reached optimal reference curves for all the main crops. Our agronomists from around the world, experts in the interpretation of this information, provide full value in irrigation and plant nutrition issues to AGQ Labs’ clients. AGQ Labs currently provides consultancy for over 3 million acres of crops including but not limited to citrus, fruit trees, table grapes, olives, avocados, berries, sugar cane, energy crops, coffee, horticultural crops and rice.
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