Chapter 20

Fertigation in Greenhouse Production

(book excerpts)

Fertigation consists of applying simultaneously water and fertilizers through the irrigation system, supplying the nutrients required by the greenhouse crops. Most commonly this is done through a drip irrigation system but it can also be done with ebbb and flow and trough bench systems. Using a fertigation system, a grower can apply the nutrients exactly and uniformly only to the wetted root volume, where the active roots are concentrated. With fertigation, plants can receive small amounts of fertilizer early in the crop’s season when plants are vegetative. The dosage is increased as nutrient demands grow and then decreased as plants approach the end of the crop’s cycle. Fertigation increases the efficiency in the application of the fertilizer, which allows reducing the amount of applied fertilizer. Nutrient characteristics such as solubility and mobility are important and irrigation water quality factors such as pH, mineral content, salinity, and nutrient solubility must be considered. The macronutrients nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium are the most common nutrients applied by fertigation, but micronutrients such as boron, zinc, iron, calcium manganese, and copper can also be applied through the irrigation system. In addition, to fertilizers other chemicals can be injected through the irrigation system, including chlorine, acid, herbicides, nematicides, and fungicides.

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