Fertigation is a common agricultural method. Growers may save time, money, and labor by performing two activities at once: fertilization and watering, using the fertigation approach. Modern fertigation system customization and sophisticated satellite-based software allow targeting variable rate fertilizer (VRF) inputs. Drip fertigation, which minimizes inputs while delivering nutrients to the root zone, is the most efficient way. Because there are large and small-scale fertigation systems with manual or completely automated control, the technology is suited for agricultural operations of any size.

What Is Fertigation?

Liquid nutrients are given to plants by irrigation in fertigation. The fertigation approach is more efficient than standard fertilization techniques. The following are some of the advantages of fertigation:

  • saving costs on reduced fertilizer amounts;
  • reducing chemical uses to reduce pollution in nature;
  • controlling administered rates;
  • tackling soil erosion;
  • optimizing water consumption;
  • avoiding fertilizer leakage as a result of strong rains or water supplies;
  • promoting rapid root growth;
  • affecting soil microbial biomass.

How Fertigation System Works

Fertigation technique involves dusting water-soluble nutrients into the precision irrigation system from reservoirs. In most cases, injectors and a pressure-controlled valve are used. Several criteria distinguish fertilization systems:

  • Size and scale of applications A large-scale fertigation system is employed in a major business. Small-scale fertigation systems, on the other hand, are appropriate for smaller farms or greenhouses.
  • Management There are two types of fertigation control systems: manual and automatic. Timers may be incorporated into the irrigation system, allowing fertigation to occur at predetermined periods.
  • Irrigation methods Flood irrigation, nozzle and head spraying, and drip fertigation are all options.
fertigation in the field

Accuracy Of Nutrients Application In Fertigation

A significant advantage of fertigation is the liquid form of nutrients distribution . As a result, plants can absorb them right away, increasing their availability and efficiency. Root fertigation provides for maximum fertilizer supply to the root zone while minimizing losses. It simply lowers runoffs and wastes, particularly those caused by heavy rains or floods.

Fertigation timing is determined by crop demands and may be done daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the nutrient management strategy. Furthermore, in the case of drip irrigation fertigation, the lack of equipment soil disturbance during fertilizer applications reduces ground compaction.

Most fertigation systems include sensors for measuring pH and electric conductivity. Farmers may then decide the appropriate fertilizer rates. They may then adjust the fertigation and irrigation system injectors accordingly.

Distribution Of Nutrients With Fertigation Implementation

Because fertilizers are liquids, their transport and dispersion are influenced by wetting patterns. In other words, nutrients will be transferred to regions where water can reach them. The most common method is drip fertigation. Root zone fertigation, which distributes moisture exactly at the plant root, makes the best use of resources.

Drip irrigation wetting patterns are often round or hemispherical, either on the soil surface or at the emitter level underneath it. (depending on if the tape runs on or below the surface). The most water (and hence nutrients) will be present around and underneath the emitter. The horizontal distribution of moisture is influenced by soil conditions, irrigation rate, and duration in relation to plant demands.

Another factor influencing nutrient distribution is the kind of nutrient and its propensity to adsorb to soil components. Nitrates and sulfates, for example, do not cling to soil particles, but potassium and phosphorus do. Phosphorus, in instance, binds to calcium or aluminum, and positively charged potassium interacts with negatively charged clay.

What To Consider For Successful Fertigation

As mentioned above, fertigation suggests liquid fertilizer delivery through irrigation system . However, just adding them is insufficient. Agronomists consider various basic qualities, such as solubility, compatibility, acidity, and salinity. (osmotic pressure).


First and foremost, the solubility of fertilizers in water influences their selection. As a result, the appropriate alternatives are:

  • solid ones that can properly dissolve;
  • liquid ones that are already dissolved.
fertidation by schedule

The solubility capacity of various fertilizer kinds varies. Furthermore, the Temperature has an effect on the degree and speed of solubility. . So whether nutrients can dissolve at the present temperature in the field is important. Thus, the season should be considered as well, since the solubility rate varies between spring and summer.

Besides, some When fertilizers are introduced in high quantities to hard water or when the temperature decreases, they may precipitate out of solution. For example, in a colder season or on chilly evenings. This attribute is important for creating and storing solutions in advance. Monoammonium phosphate, urea phosphate, and phosphoric acid all precipitate. Quick water-soluble fertilizers include ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, urea, and ammonium phosphate.

The higher the temperature, the greater the solubility. When comparing temperatures of 0°C and 30°C, for example, the solubility of ammonium nitrate increases more than twice – from 1183 to 2420 g/L. This implies that more nutrients will dissolve in the same quantity of water.

However, there is another important factor to consider. Fertigation system solutions may be endothermic or exothermic. , i.e., the temperature of the solution either lowers or rises throughout the dissolving process. Most nitrogen-based fertilizers absorb heat from the water, causing the solution temperature to fall. As a result, the preparation procedure will take longer, and longer means colder liquid and a lower projected concentration.

The connection of solubility capacity is shown in the table below.J. Hagin, Ph.D. Irrigation-based fertilization. Basel, Switzerland: International Potash Institute. Some synthetic fertilizer components (g/L) with temperature in 2003, which is important in fertigation technique.

Compound 0°C 10°C 20°C 30°C
Ammonium nitrate 0°C1183 10°C1580 20°C1950 30°C2420
Ammonium sulphate 0°C706 10°C730 20°C750 30°C780
Calcium nitrate 0°C1020 10°1240 20°C1294 30°C1620
Di-ammonium phosphate 0°C429 10°C628 20°C692 30°C748
Di-potassium phosphate 0°C1328 10°C1488 20°C1600 30°C1790
Magnesium chloride 0°C528 10°C540 20°C546 30°C568
Magnesium sulphate 0°C260 10°C308 20°C356 30°C405
Mono-ammonium phosphate 0°C227 10°C295 20°C374 30°C464
Mono-potassium phosphate 0°C142 10°C178 20°C225 30°C274
Potassium chloride 0°C280 10°C310 20°C340 30°C370
Potassium nitrate 0°C130 10°C210 20°C320 30°C460
Potassium sulphate 0°C70 10°C90 20°C110 30°C130
Urea 0°C680 10°C850 20°C1060 30°C1330


When it comes to matching different components for fertigation, whether they are compatible or not is critical. The fundamental rules are as follows:

  • Separate solutions should be prepared and stored in separate reservoirs if they may enter an unwanted reaction.
  • Do not combine phosphorus or sulfur with calcium.
  • Do not add chelates to non-chelates.
  • Because chelates dissolve at acidic pH, they must be isolated.

The primary guidelines for mixing fertilizers are to prevent precipitation and solubility decrease due to chemical reactivity.


Corrosion is caused by solution acidity, which deteriorates metal reservoirs and irrigation system components. This characteristic is measured as the pH level, which should be neither too high nor too low. Acid solutions are very corrosive, while alkaline liquids provide a precipitation danger. Corrosive characteristics are also common in chloride-based compounds.

Agronomists also examine the soil reactivity to fertigation. Muriate of potash or potassium sulfate, in particular, produces a neutral reaction. It is basic when combined with calcium nitrate or potassium nitrate. Acidic reactions are produced by ammonium nitrate, urea, ammonium sulfate, monoammonium phosphate, and diammonium phosphate. Phosphoric acid treatments have the greatest impact on soil acidity.

Osmotic Pressure

Irrigation water is often salty, and adding salt-containing fertilizers increases salinity even more. Osmotic pressure is related to salinity. Negative osmotic potential makes water absorption by plant roots more difficult, resulting in a lower yield. Crops suffer from osmotic stress and are unable to utilise moisture even when it is present in the soil. because it moves from less saline to more saline places. Plants use more energy to absorb fertigation’s water and nutrients, and if osmotic stress becomes serious, they perish. As a result, fertilizers should cause as little osmotic pressure as feasible.

Fertilizer salinity potential is not often tested. It is measured using electric conductivity and its relationship to osmotic pressure. The electric conductivity and pH are calculated and compared. It is unique to each chemical compound. Ammonium sulfate, for example, has a larger osmotic pressure in solution (per quantity of total nutrition administered) than ammonium nitrate.

The fertilizer attributes are shown in the table below: electrical conductivity (EC), pH, and nutrient content in 10 mMol/L fertilizer solutions.

Compound Nutrient Concentration (mg/L) EC (dS/m) pH
Ammonium nitrate NutrientN Concentration (mg/L)280 EC (dS/m)0.7 pH5.5
Ammonium sulphate NutrientN Concentration (mg/L)280 EC (dS/m)1.4 pH4.5
Aqua ammonia NutrientN Concentration (mg/L)140 EC (dS/m)0.7 pH5.5
Calcium nitrate NutrientN Concentration (mg/L)280 EC (dS/m)2.0 pH6.9
Di-ammonium phosphate NutrientN
Concentration (mg/L)280
EC (dS/m)0.6 pH7.8
Di-potassium phosphate NutrientP
Concentration (mg/L)310
EC (dS/m)1.9 pH9.2
Magnesium chloride NutrientMg Concentration (mg/L)240 EC (dS/m)2.0 pH6.8
Magnesium sulphate NutrientMg Concentration (mg/L)240 EC (dS/m)2.2 pH6.9
Mono-ammonium phosphate NutrientN
Concentration (mg/L)140
EC (dS/m)0.4 pH4.7
Mono-potassium phosphate NutrientP
Concentration (mg/L)310
EC (dS/m)0.7 pH4.6
Nitric acid NutrientN Concentration (mg/L)140 EC (dS/m)0.7 pH2.0
Phosphoric acid NutrientP Concentration (mg/L)310 EC (dS/m)0.4 pH2.3
Potassium chloride NutrientK Concentration (mg/L)390 EC (dS/m)0.7 pH7.0
Potassium nitrate NutrientN
Concentration (mg/L)140
EC (dS/m)0.7 pH7.0
Potassium sulphate NutrientK Concentration (mg/L)780 EC (dS/m)0.2 pH7.0
Urea NutrientN Concentration (mg/L)280 EC (dS/m)2.7 pH7.0

Fertigation Scheduling

Crops need various amounts of nutrients at different stages of development. Applications that are applied too early or too late nearly always end up as trash owing to runoff or volatilization. . This is especially true of nitrates that are not retained in the soil. Phosphorus may also leak, however in many situations, around half of this fertilizer is applied before to planting.

Fertigation enables agronomists to provide nutrients to crops in the appropriate quantity and at the appropriate time, proving to be the most efficient way. Delivering nutrients to the root zone is much more advantageous. Fertigation encourages root development in this manner.

Smaller fertilizer levels also save farmers money and avoid unwarranted soil salinization caused by salty water or when fertilizers salt out.

It also makes sense to Apply nutrients slightly ahead of when the crop needs them to ensure effective development. . The most extensive fertilization is usually needed during plant development and is lowered or totally discontinued after harvesting. Farmers may plan fertigation activities by tracking weekly progress.

surface fertigation system

Fertigation Compatibility With Irrigation Systems

There are numerous methods for carrying out fertigation, such as surface and pressurized or non-pressurized irrigation, each of which adds to crop yield in a different manner.

Surface Irrigation

The most popular kind of water saturation is surface irrigation, which is used on 90% of all irrigated fields. It does, however, might not be a cost-efficient method Because only 30-70% of the water reaches the active root zone.

Fertigation systems are not often used in surface irrigation since nutrients are typically delivered in predetermined amounts through designated channels. Reservoirs with valves or apertures for liquid and solid fertilizers are included in the equipment. It varies according on the intricacy of the process. (from manual to fully automatic).

Pressurized Irrigation

Because of the pressure difference, nutrients flow through the system with this irrigation style, as the name implies. Anhydrous ammonia, on the other hand, does not need pressure since it exists naturally in the solution.

The force used varies according on the system type: sprinkler systems need more effort, whereas drip systems require less. Agronomists consider the corrosive influence of harsh fertilizers on metal equipment components as well as canopy burns while applying them.

The drip fertigation technology is the most effective since it:

  • distributes nutrients straight to the root zone, optimizing water and fertilizer consumption
  • requiring less pressure than other ways
  • allows different automation settings.
sprinkler fertigation system

Site-Specific Fertigation With EOSDA Crop Monitoring

Modern fertigation systems include several customizing options. This advantage allows farmers to avoid uniform field treatment since various field zones often have variable nutrient demands. In general, fertilizer rates are determined by a variety of factorsGreen industries best management techniques (GI-BMP). Fertilizer is covered in Module 5.

  • type of crop,
  • growth stage,
  • soil type,
  • fertilizer grade,
  • solution concentration,
  • soil moisture,
  • soil temperature,
  • osmotic potential,
  • The impact of fertigation on soil microbial biomass (microbial action).

Variable Rate Fertilizer (VRF) application is made possible by EOSDA Crop Monitoring’s zoning function.

Farmers may select zones in each field and manually adjust the quantity of fertilizer to each zone. (dividing a field into up to seven vegetation zones). Based on latest satellite data, vegetation maps provide practical information. EOSDA Crop Monitoring depicts agricultural production (or lack thereof) in various zones using different colors. As a result, green emphasizes the places with the best plants. Red indicates the least healthy crops, requiring quick treatment.


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