Whether in a commercial grow or an at-home garden, all plants require nutrients or fertilizers to thrive. Automated commercial fertilizer delivery systems can be costly, and sticker shock can intimidate growers into putting off the upgrade. Many growers admit that the upfront investment pays off. Lower labor costs and reduced resource waste, along with saving time, are enough to get many growers to take the plunge. We'll dive into what fertilizer or nutrient delivery systems do, how they work, and the potential benefits associated with investing.
What is a fertilizer delivery system?
Commonly referred to as fertigation, a nutrient or fertilizer delivery system injects water-soluble solutions into an irrigation line. In addition to feeding plants the nutrients they require, high-quality systems can also measure EC, pH, and temperature. Fertigation is related to chemigation, injecting chemicals into an irrigation system.
How it Works
Using a sophisticated series of sensors, these commercial systems monitor temperature, EC, and pH levels in the water. High-level systems can be accessed using a mobile app to create parameters, set rules, and create room-specific recipes in real-time. In response to the parameters and rules you create, pumps will fill batch tanks or feed plants for a predetermined duration. These advanced systems are connected via software that provides constant feedback and actionable data to improve yields consistently.
What are the benefits of automated nutrient systems?
Growers have faced challenging situations with staffing and supply chain shortages due to COVID-19.
The primary benefit of high-quality fertilizer delivery systems is that it allows growers to automatically deliver a precise amount of nutrients based on the crop type and growing medium, saving valuable time.
Another benefit is reduced resource waste. Chemicals involved in fertilization can be harmful to the environment, and fertilizer polluting outside water sources is a genuine concern. The most common cause is excess fertilizer exiting the growing environment before the plants can utilize it, and automated nutrient delivery systems are ideal for preventing that from happening.
Nutrient delivery systems keep the fertilized irrigation water away from the outside environment using backflow prevention devices, chemical spill trays, and physical separation from the surrounding ground. Dialing in exact doses ensures that the system only provides as much fertilizer as the plants can use. This significantly reduces the risk of excess chemicals leaching out of the system.
Another benefit to fertilizer delivery systems is the ability to steer crop growth by adjusting the timing and regularity of plant feeding. Check out more about crop steering with irrigation here.
While fertilizer delivery systems require regular maintenance, the labor required to operate them is insignificant compared to the labor costs of manually performing the task. As improvements in indoor agriculture advance, the number of growers applying these profit-producing systems will only continue to increase.