Effective Water Utilization Through Drip Irrigation
What is Drip Irrigation?
Drip Irrigation can be seen as a kind of micro irrigation system which is very efficient and saves water. This irrigation method is also a useful coping strategy for farmers in regions that are severely affected by drought and water scarcity. Drip Irrigation distributes water through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters. It allows farmers to irrigate every single plant dropwise at regular intervals, directly to the root zone.
Fertilization through Drip Irrigation
The so called ‘fertigation’ is a method of fertilization in which fertilizer is applied through the drip system into the irrigation water. Both liquid fertilizers and water soluble fertilizers can be used in the process. In this way, fertilizer efficiency can be increased by 80 to 90 percent by fertigation.
Special fertilizers such as mono-ammonium phosphate (12:61:00), poly feed (19:19:19:19), Multi K (13:00:45), mono potassium phosphate (00:52:34) and potassium sulphate (00:00:50) are ideal for fertigation because they are readily water soluble. Secondary nutrients such as Ca, Mg, S and micronutrients such as Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, B, Mo are also supplied together with special fertilizers.
N-Fertigation: Urea, ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulphate, calcium ammonium sulphate, and calcium ammonium nitrate can be used as nitrogenous fertilizers in the fertigation method. They are highly soluble and dissolve in non-ionic form so they do not react with other substances in the water.
P-Fertigation: The use of phosphorus in irrigation water can cause the precipitation of phosphate salts. Phosphoric acid and mono-ammonium phosphate are more suitable for Fertigation.
K-Fertigation: The application of K-fertilizer does not cause precipitation of salts. Potassium nitrate, potassium chloride, potassium sulfate and monopotassium phosphate are used in Fertigation.
Pros of Drip Irrigation / Fertigation
Depending on proper installation, maintenance and operation, drip irrigation systems have a number of advantages over other types of irrigation systems:
- Utilises the full potential of available water
- Less weed growth and reduction of the population of potential hosts, as no water is available for weeds
- Lower evaporation losses of the water compared with other irrigation methods
- Enhances seed germination
- No erosion and improved infiltration in soils of low intake
- Increases crop yield
- Reduced labor costs and comparatively low operating costs
- Greater efficiency in the use of fertilizers
- No discharge of fertilizers into groundwater
Cons of Drip Irrigation
Despite the fact that drip irrigation is very economical and has so many potential benefits, there are also some disadvantages and limitations:
- sensitivity to blockage
- problems of moisture distribution
- hazards due to salinity
- high acquisition costs
- very costly installation
Indeed, the procurement costs and installation work are high. However, there are also suitable DIY alternatives that are far cheaper and also easy to install. Some of the alternatives, as well as a clear action plan for maintenance and upkeep, will be presented for you in our next blog post. If you have further questions about Drip Irrigation systems or Fertigation, feel free to contact our experts in the #PlantixCommunity