Fertigation is the application of fertilizers or nutrients to crops through drip irrigation equipment. It can also be explained as the injection of nutrients or fertilizers into irrigation systems for onward passing to the root zones of crops.
Fertigation is usually done in irrigation through the use of some specialized equipment. Without these equipment, fertigation cannot be done. Fertigation is similar to chemigation. Chemigation is the injection of chemicals like herbicides, nematicides and fungicides etc. into irrigation systems for the use of crops.
Fertigation is gradually gaining ground in Nigeria as some farmers have discovered the yield increasing attribute of fertigation.
Nutrients used for fertigation
A lot of different types of water soluble fertilizers or nutrients are used for fertigation. It should be noted that fertilizers that are not water soluble should not be used for fertigation as this can block or clog the drip irrigation emitters.
Nutrients or fertilizers that can be used for fertigation include potassium nitrate, urea, NPK, mono potassium phosphate, chelates, humates, potassium chloride, potassium sulfate, calcium nitrate and CALMAG etc.
Before you fertigate, it is advisable you do a soil test. A soil test will reveal the level of nutrients in your soil.
Advantages of fertigation
The following are the merits or benefits of fertigation:
- Better utilization of nutrients by plants
- Accuracy in the placing of fertilisers
- Ability to use nutrients or fertilisers in small doses
- Efficiency in the use of nutrients or fertilizers
- Issues of leaching of nutrients do not exist if a farmer fertigates
- Ability of the farmer to control the amount of nutrients to use
- Ability to control the timing of the application of fertilizers
- Ability to significantly increase crop yield
Disadvantages of fertigation
- If care is not taken, the water source can be contaminated during fertigation.
- Fertigation can be more expensive than the convention style of fertilization
- Pressure loss in the drip irrigation system can negatively impact fertigation
Equipment used for fertigation
The following are the types of equipment used for fertigation:
Venturi Injector: This is a fertigation device that works through water pressure differential. The venturi injector sucks fertilizer solution and injects it into the drip irrigation system or any other type of irrigation system. A venture injector does not use power or electricity. It is a simple fertigation equipment that works effectively, it is also a key component of a drip irrigation system.
Dosing pump: A dosing pump is a type of pump that can be used for injecting fertizer solution or chemical into flowing water. This type of pump can be used effectively for fertigation. A dosing pump also called metering pump needs power to function.
Fertigation can significantly improve the yield of farmers in Nigeria.