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Fertigation Pays Off With Centre Pivots
The trial compared a fertigation system — injecting water-soluble fertiliser through the farm's centre pivot irrigation system — with a broadcast nitrogen application system.A centre pivot irrigation system was used to compare fertigation against traditional broadcast methods of applying nitrogen fertiliser to a grazed and irrigated annual ryegrass pasture.
One-quarter of the pivot area was fertilised after each grazing with Easy N liquid fertiliser and one quarter was fertilised with broadcasted urea for a comparison.Pasture dry matter yield was measured before and after grazing, and results indicated that the fertigation quarter produced slightly more feed on offer.Benefits of the fertigation system included labour and fuel savings, in addition to savings on repairs and maintenance of machinery.
The liquid fertiliser was immediately available to the plants and could be distributed more evenly (provided the irrigation system had an even distribution uniformity) compared with granular fertilisers.
Applying smaller amounts more often enabled a more optimum growth rate, and liquid fertilisers aren't as volatile, reducing potential losses to the atmosphere.The trial showed that there were no detrimental effects to pivot hardware by applying nitrogen fertiliser through the system.
The importance of obtaining specialist advice before installing a fertigation system to maximise the benefits derived from improved nitrogen use efficiency was a key outcome of the trial.
Precision is paramount and it is important that the irrigation system is operating at optimum water use efficiency. The initial set up of dosing systems requires somewhat complex calculations but once established, the system is very easy to use.
The results of the fertigation on-farm demonstration highlighted in a practical sense the on-farm and off-farm benefits of improved nitrogen use efficiency.
- The term Fertigation is mostly used to describe the process of injection of fertilizers and other water-soluble products into an irrigation system.
- The Fertigation process is related to chemigation, which is the injection of chemicals into an irrigation system. The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably however chemigation is generally a more controlled and regulated process due to the nature of the chemicals being used, often this process involves the use of insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, some of which can pose health threat to humans, animals, and the environment.
- Some of the Advantages of Fertigation include;
- Increased nutrient absorption by plants.
- Accurate placement of nutrient, where the water goes the nutrient goes as well.
- Ability to "micro dose", feeding the plants just enough so nutrients can be absorbed and are not left to be washed down to storm water next time it rains.
- Reduction of fertilizer, chemicals, and water needed.
- Reduced leaching of chemicals into the water supply.
- Reduced water consumption due to the plant's increased root mass's ability to trap and hold water.
- Application of nutrients can be controlled at the precise time and rate necessary. Minimized risk of the roots contracting soil borne diseases through the contaminated soil.
- Reduction of soil erosion issues as the nutrients are pumped through the water drip system.
- Leaching is decreased often through methods used to employ fertigation.