Plants need water and nutrients – so why not to combine the application of both. Such a combination is called nutrigation; it applies nutrients together with the irrigation water.

Scarcity of water in good quality is becoming a major concern in the world. Agriculture segment is the largest user of water, and has the target to enhance water-use-efficiency. Nutrigation technology allows a better use of water. Micro-irrigation systems have been developed, and provide a better water-use-efficiency of between 80% to 90 % with Drip System, while other irrigation practices only have a 40-50 % water-use-efficiency. Drip irrigation places the water close to the roots. This reduces the volume of watered soil and the water loss by evaporation. In the past 20 years, the acreage under drip irrigation has grown substantially and is growing.

Drip irrigation system:

Once a drip irrigation system is established, it invites to be used not only for irrigation, but also for nutrigation, as fertilizers can be easily dissolved in a tank with water prior to application, and injected into the irrigation water according to crop demand.

The shift from traditional fertilizer practice of solid fertilizers to nutrigation requires different technical know how and different types of fertilizers. Micro-irrigation systems are sensitive to clogging, therefore mineral particles e.g. from incompletely dissolved fertilizers, precipitation or microbial growth have to be avoided and the fertilizers, either in solid or liquid form, as straights or ready-made mixtures have to be completely water soluble.

Under drip irrigated conditions, the soil volume in which the roots grow will be reduced to the soil volume that is watered. A high root density is found in these wet bulbs and it is crucial to ensure optimum growth conditions in terms of nutrient and water supply. In order to avoid salinity problems, nutrigation should use fertilizers, like calcium nitrate, potassium nitrate etc., which do not contain any other elements that are not necessary for the nutrition of the crop.

With nutrigation, plant nutrients in readily and highly available form can be placed close to the roots in required rates when needed. As crops require different rates of each nutrient at specific physiological growth stages, nutrigation enables the grower to increase yield and fine tune quality of the crop and to strongly enhance fertilizer-use-efficiency. The yield increase in nutrigation systems is in line with the need to intensify land-use-efficiency to meet the food demand of the growing population by production on a shrinking acreage of available arable land. Furthermore, the higher nutrient-use-efficiency is of advantage for the environment, as nutrients used by the crop are not lost by leaching or gaseous losses (volatilization).

The benefits of Nutrigation:

  • Nutrient availability to the plant is improved.
  • Nutrient uptake efficiency is increased.
  • Fertilizer application rates and water requirements are reduced.
  • Losses by leaching are minimized.
  • Salt injuries to roots and foliage are prevented.
  • Soil compaction is reduced due to less field operations.
  • Weed population is decreased.
  • Contamination of soil and groundwater is minimized.

Together with our alliance partners Haifa Chemicals Ltd, Akzo Nobel Functional Chemicals bv, Yara International and Tessenderlo Chemie, PR Agro offers the whole range of highly water-soluble fertilizers and chelated micronutrients, which suits best to fertigation systems.