What is Fertigation? Definition, Advantages & Method

What is Fertigation? Definition, Advantages & Method

Apr 19th 2024

Fertigation is a widely used precision farming practice that combines irrigation and fertilization. This efficient method applies a combination of essential nutrients to crops through the irrigation system. Traditional fertilization methods can be wasteful, and the associated run-off negatively affects our plants and environment. However, fertigation is the latest technology that has made fertilizer application convenient and innovative. It allows growers to increase yield quality and quantity, enhance water and nutrient efficiency, and save time and resources by completing both events simultaneously.

Read the guide to learn all about the fertigation process, including its pros and cons, methods, and compatibility with different irrigation systems.

What is Fertigation?

Fertigation is a technique in which fertilizers or nutrients are dissolved and distributed with water through an irrigation system and then absorbed by plants when they take water. The term fertigation is a combination of fertilizer and irrigation. It delivers liquid fertilizers directly to crops with irrigation. Unlike traditional fertilization techniques, fertigation is more efficient because it reduces fertilizer waste, reduces water consumption, and promotes rapid root growth. Hence, it is a win-win for both growers and the environment.

This method can be used with different irrigation methods, including drip, sprinkler, and soaker. However, drip irrigation is the most compatible method with fertigation as it optimizes fertilizer consumption and increases crop yields.

How does Fertigation work?

In fertigation, water-soluble fertilizers are dissolved into water used for irrigation. Moist roots are essential for optimal fertilizer absorption, so this technique increases the efficiency of fertilizer applications by ensuring they are distributed to roots in already moist soil.

Fertigation technology controls the timing, placement, and type of fertilizer based on soil fertility and the plant's growth stage. It is done with injectors. Fertilizer is added to a tank or barrel, and an injector pumps it through the drip system. Many fertigation systems include sensors that detect soil pH levels. This allows growers to determine the fertilizer application rate and set the system accordingly.

When fertilizers are dissolved with irrigation water, nutrients, and water are applied directly to roots, improving crops' nutrient absorption rate and producing the highest possible yields. The specifics of fertigation systems vary by the size and scale of farming operation and irrigation system type.

Required Tools for Fertigation

Here is the equipment needed for fertigation.

Fertilizer Tank: This container contains fertilizer solution before being added to the irrigation system.

Fertilizer Injector Pump: This pump transfers the fertilizer from the tank to the irrigation system.

  • EZ-FLO Fertilizer Injectors are an excellent choice for feeding home gardens, landscapes, and large commercial applications. The EZ-FLO comes with a tank to which you add your water-soluble fertilizer; once the system turns on, the fertilizer is mixed with the water and distributed to the drip system.
  • Mazzei Fertilizer Injectors are an affordable and excellent choice for skilled gardeners and small commercial operations. This is the simplest device that mixes fertilizers with irrigation water using the venturi effect.
  • MixRite Fertilizer Injectors are the best and most accurate fertilizer injectors on the market. The MixRite fertilizer injector reliably meters fertilized solution into your line and is solely powered by the water moving through it. The most accurate and easy-to-maintain pump-style injector.

Related Post: EZ FLO Fertilizer Injector: Select the Right Fertilizer Injector for Your Garden

Advantages of Fertigation

Fertilization, the implementation of fertilizer with irrigation water, offers numerous benefits to plants and the environment. Here are the advantages of fertigation.

Greater Yields: Applying nutrients and water evenly to plants improves crop growth and yields by 25-50%.

Eliminate Pollution: Fertigation reduces nutrient leaching and fertilizer input and uses less fertilizer. This eliminates the risk of groundwater contamination and environmental pollution.

Synchronizing Fertilization with Crop Needs: Fertigation supplies nutrients according to the crop needs, which increases nutrient-use efficiency.

Reduced Labor Time and Costs: Fertigation systems can work through automated irrigation systems and use less fertilizer, which reduces labor time and energy costs.

Reduced Weed Density: Fertigation with drip irrigation provides less water and nutrients for weeds, which reduces weed growth.

Disadvantages of Fertigation

In addition to advantages, there are multiple challenges that gardeners may face during the fertigation process. You should be aware of these problems to ensure the effectiveness of fertigation.

  • Fertilizers can backflow into your domestic water supply and contaminate the potable water. Therefore, a backflow preventer should be installed to prevent contamination.
  • There is a risk of wastage of fertilizers if there are leaks in your irrigation lines.
  • It is crucial to use good filters and water-soluble fertilizers to avoid blockage of emitters.
  • Installation and operation of fertigation systems require some know-how and skills, which can be challenging for novice gardeners.

Methods of Fertigation

Modern fertigation can control the applied fertilizer quantity, duration of application, and start and end time. Here are the four common approaches to fertilizer application through fertigation.

Continuous Application

Fertilizer is applied at an even rate from the start to the end. This method injects the total amount of fertilizer regardless of how quickly the water is released.

Proportional Application

The water supply is proportional to the injection rate. For example, one liter of nutrient solution to 1000 liters of water is a standard rate in proportional fertilization. This method is simple, easy to implement, and beneficial for plants.

Quantitative Application

Each irrigation zone receives a specific nutrient solution based on its requirements. For example, zone A receives 10 liters, and zone B receives 20 liters. This fertigation method works well with an automated system and allows you to control the nutrient application.

Three-stage Application

Fertilizer is not applied at the beginning of irrigation. The fertilizer injection starts when the soil has soaked up water and stops before the irrigation cycle is completed. This approach allows fertilizer to be washed out of the irrigation system for the rest of the watering period.

Note: You can use our Fertilizer Estimator to calculate your fertilizer needs.

Using Fertigation with Different Irrigation Systems

Drip, sprinkler, and spray irrigation can apply fertilizer to plants. Let's discover which irrigation system is most efficient and beneficial for fertigation.

Drip Irrigation

The fertigation system is most compatible with drip irrigation, which is the most efficient and beneficial option for gardeners, landscapers, and farmers. This method delivers nutrients and water directly to plants' root zones. Supplying water and fertilizer through subsurface drip irrigation is ideal because there is less wastage, and roots absorb nutrients quickly.

Furthermore, drip irrigation requires less pressure and water than sprinkler systems. It also allows you to control the fertilizer amount and apply it to a specific zone according to the plant's needs.

Read More: How to fertilize through a Drip Irrigation System

The Bottom Line

Fertigation is a modern, environmentally friendly, and valuable practice in precision agriculture. This efficient approach allows gardeners and farmers to apply water and fertilizers together in a suitable amount. If you're wondering if fertigation is worth it, it is. This method can synchronize fertilizer application and plant requirements, boost water and nutrient efficiency, save labor costs, reduce nutrient losses, and enhance crop yields.

DripWorks carries an affordable and high-quality collection of fertilizer injectors, ranging from simple EZ-FLO units to large MixRite pump-style injectors for commercial applications. Explore our collection and find the perfect fertilizer injector for your crops.