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Fertigation or ferti-irrigation

Fertigation or ferti-irrigation is an agricultural practice which consists in combining irrigation with a supply of fertilizing elements in liquid or soluble form via an irrigation circuit: cannons, ramps, sprinkler, drip. We will see a little further on the advantages of this technique. As with any practice that combines several operations in one, there are significant advantages in terms of time savings and organization, as well as financial benefits, particularly in terms of the reduction in labor required.

In addition to these economic and organizational considerations, fertigation allows an adequate dosage of fertilizer, and thus offers various advantages both at the agricultural level and at the environmental level.

Fertigation is increasingly used in berry cultivation, market gardening and in general for greenhouse and off-ground crop production. Fertigation is a popular process in organic farming. Thus the agricultural producer has a technique that allows him to apply the right dosage, at the right time and at the right concentration for optimal efficiency.

In terms of fertilizers one can schematize the use of types of fertilizers according to the types of crops as follows.

Fertilizer types Crops
Compost, manure On soil cultivation, starter crops in containers (germination, initial growth)
Flour, granules On soil cultivation  and in containers
Soluble and liquid fertilizers Soilless cultures

Fertigation plein sol (ex : cultures maraichères)

Foliar fertilizers

The fertilizer, soluble or liquid, can be applied using any irrigation system. In the production of fresh market vegetables, drip irrigation is the most commonly used system for fertigation. Drip irrigation, also known as micro-irrigation or drip irrigation, gradually supplies water to the substrate. The efficiency of drip irrigation is over 90%, while that of an irrigation system is 50-70%. As a result, the principle of fertigation has been rapidly adopted on a small or large scale in many countries.

In addition to the elements mentioned above, fertigation is also an ideal fertilization method in geographical areas where water scarcity is an issue.

Advantages of fertigation

Fertigation offers multiple advantages at the agricultural level.  Indeed, by combining irrigation and fertilization, we limit the passages in the plots (full soil crops) and therefore the risks of soil compaction.

As far as fertilization is concerned, the question of dosage is important. Indeed, too much nitrogen at once causes an excess of vegetative growth, slows down the setting, and impacts the flowering. Fertigation allows a precise dosage and a harmonious distribution of the nutritive contributions on the whole plot to be covered.

By fractioning and dosing the fertilizer inputs, the undesirable effects of massive fertilizer inputs are avoided. In addition to possible excess vegetative growth, there can be problems related to over-fertilization of certain elements, as well as excess salinity, and toxicity problems, such as boron or others.

Fertigation allows the fertilizer to be conveyed directly to the root zone where absorption will be ideal, and is facilitated by the fact that the nutrients are in solution form, which contributes to a higher yield compared to conventional methods of fertilization with granules, powders, or flours. Nutrients are evenly distributed and yield increases of 25 to 50% can be observed.

In addition, the efficiency of fertilizers through fertigation is between 80 and 90%, saving in some cases 25% of the nutrients.

In the case of nitrogen, the efficiency of fertilizer in fertigation mode is superior to other methods of fertilization

Fertilizer Application on soil Fertigation
Nitrogen 30-50 95
Phosphorus 20 45
Potassium 50 80
     

Fertilizing efficiency in percentage

Other benefits are worth mentioning. For example, in areas of high rainfall, the loss of nutrients through leaching is less with fertigation. Finally, farmers are not dependent on weather conditions to be able to fertilize their plots. Wind, another example, has no negative impact on this fertilization process and the runoff of dissolved nutrients is greatly reduced.

Solugen’s ammoniacal nitrogen: a biological liquid fertilizer

Nitrogen is one of the essential nutrients for plant growth and development. Absorbed by the plant in mineral form (ammonia or nitrate), it comes either from the mineralization of organic matter or from fertilizers.

While so-called chemical fertilizers are widely used throughout the world and help promote plant production, their long-term impact on the soil is relatively unknown. In a long-term study conducted by researchers Humberto Blanco-Canqui and Alan Schlegel over a period of about fifty years, the latter validated the influence of inorganic fertilizers on cultivated plots in Kansas. They show that in these soils, the storage of organic carbon has increased, but on the other hand, the stability of the aggregates has deteriorated. Also called “elementary assemblages”, soil aggregates are made up of mineral soil particles, natural cements (organic, oxides and hydroxides). The stability of soil aggregates is an indicator of the force that holds soil particles together. Good aggregate stability means that soil particles resist the destructive forces of water or wind erosion and tillage. Good soil condition is normally associated with good aggregate stability.

The ammoniacal nitrogen produced by Solugen from the treatment of hog manure is organic, is in the form of a single element solution (7-0-0), and is very suitable for use in organic farming in fertigation applications.

Why are organic liquid fertilizers sustainable?

Solugen organic liquid manure comes from a permanently renewable source; pig manure. As such, it is a sustainable fertilizer and the extraction process is not linked to the removal of raw materials from the environment. It is therefore not only an ideal source of fertilizer because of its concentration, its formula with one macro-element (N), but also its production is in line with the expectations of organic farming in terms of environmental preservation. The term eco-responsibility therefore applies not only to its use, but also to its application method and production technique.

Why and when to use liquid fertilizers

Because liquid fertilizers work faster than solid fertilizers, they are the best option under the following circumstances:

– For seedlings that have exhausted the nutrients provided by newly germinated seeds.

– When seedlings show signs of nutrient deficiency.

– For plants grown in containers (pots)

– For plants that start growing in low temperature soils. In this case liquid fertilizers are perfect to strengthen the nutrients of these plants because it is difficult to absorb nutrients such as nitrogen at winter temperatures.

– Organic liquid fertilizers are quickly absorbed and have a short duration of action. Therefore, they are easier to regulate than dry fertilizers that act over a longer period of time.

Finally, the advantage of liquid fertilizers over soluble fertilizers is that all nutrients are dissolved in the solution, which may not be the case with fertilizers where insoluble particles may remain.

In conclusion

The ammoniacal solution extracted from the manure by the Solugen process is a sustainable, organic source of a single-element nitrogen fertilizer produced in an eco-responsible way and which lends itself perfectly to the expectations of organic agriculture, especially in fertigation applications.

Sources:

https://www.mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Regions/ChaudiereAppalaches/Espaceconferences/SGagnon_ABCFertigation_2019-02-28.pdf

https://www.agrireseau.net/legumeschamp/documents/Yelle_Paul-Emile.pdf

https://www.mediaterre.org/terres/actu,20130611101554,5.html

https://www.mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/Regions/LavalLanaudiere/Journeesagricoles2015/14h20-Serge_Gagnon.pdf

https://www.agrireseau.net/legumeschamp/documents/Yelle_Paul-Emile.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/fertigation

https://www.bioenergyconsult.com/liquid-organic-fertilizers/

https://eorganic.org/node/4937

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