According to Mike Straumietis, Advanced Nutrients Founder and CEO, fertigation was developed to address several issues that arise from traditional fertilization.
Fertigation combines “fertilizer” and “irrigation” and was developed to efficiently supply plants with the required nutrients. With fertigation, fertilizers are injected into the irrigation system through soil amendments, water amendments, or other water-soluble products.
Technologies of the fertigation process have been used for several decades and have proven to be a popular practice among growers, farmers, and other agriculture professionals who seek sustainability and streamlining of the process involved in cultivating plants. Today, it’s easy to see the advantages fertigation has over traditional fertilization.
Mike Straumietis explains that nutrient-use efficiency is one of the metrics used in agriculture to help find ways to maximize yields. It measures the crops’ ability to absorb nutrients from the growing medium and how much of the nutrients are utilized. It depends on the internal transport, storage, and remobilization of nutrients.
Fertigation has proven effective in enhancing nutrient-use efficiency by synchronizing nutrient supply with crop demand. In conventional fertilization practices, granular fertilizers are typically applied once or a few times during the growing season, allowing farmers to give plants the appropriate amount of nutrients.
A recent study compared fertigation and granular fertilization when applied to strawberries. The researchers found that fruit yield and plant biomass were significantly higher in the group where fertigation was applied. Fertigation proved more beneficial because the required nutrients were delivered more uniformly to the crops’ root zone.
A drawback of using traditional fertilization methods is the possible wastage of nutrients. Plants can only absorb so much, and the excess nutrients can leach into the ground and contaminate groundwater, especially during heavy rainfall or similar weather occurrences.
Mike Straumietis mentions that another benefit of fertigation is that it reduces the amount of water consumed when supplying plants with only the nutrition they need.
Using fertigation technology means implementing an irrigation system to deliver water to plants. Irrigation methods have helped farmers save water. One of the most efficient irrigation systems is drip irrigation. It’s been revealed that drip irrigation utilizes less than half the water required for overhead and furrow irrigation.
The need for less water in fertigation systems can provide various benefits for growers besides financial savings. For example, it has been effective in farms that experience water scarcity due to arid climates. Drip irrigation can lower water input by up to 70 percent compared to when an average sprinkler is used. It can also reduce incidents of plants contracting diseases. Because water contact with above-ground crop growth, like fruits, leaves, and stems, is minimized, the conditions where diseases can breed are less favorable.
Fertigation can also lower labor time.
Since most fertigation systems are managed or operated by automated controls and designed to distribute nutrients through various pieces of machinery, there is a reduced need for manual labor. This, in turn, can help growers save time and energy.
Fertigation can also improve a farmer’s bottom line because split fertilizer applications that utilize conventional feeding methods are usually costly. In line with this, fertigation can help minimize the labor costs associated with the traditional ways of providing crops with fertilizer.
In addition to all this, fertigation would remove the need to use traditional equipment harmful to plants, thus helping create a safer growing environment.
Finally, Mike Straumietis says that fertigation has proven to be one of the most beneficial innovations in agriculture, especially in crop production. Not only has it led to better productivity, but it has also helped raise the efficiency of growing plants by minimizing waste and costs.
Modernization and advancement of techniques and methods have helped countless people in the industry, Mike Straumietis adds, and it can be seen in the many breakthroughs of his company Advanced Nutrients.