With the popularity of indoor cultivation, thanks mainly to cannabis growers, fertigation has become the gold standard in combining irrigation with fertilization. And there's one benefit that justifies its demand; increased profits. Let's examine ways of upgrading your current irrigation strategy with a smart fertigation system and start increasing your bottom line.
What Is Fertigation?
Fertigation is the method of injecting fertilizer or other water-soluble nutrients directly into an irrigation line to deliver the exact amount of fertilizer required to treat nutrient deficiencies in crops, and it's been used as an agriculture technique for decades. Recently it's enjoyed growing popularity among cannabis cultivators, in part due to the many benefits it offers when scaling crops at a commercial level in controlled environments.
Benefits of Fertigation
In a Purdue University study on fertigation principles and applications, they identified the following ways it provides positive benefits:
- Precise, controlled application of nutrients and water
- Allows micro dosage application
- Increased flexibility of fertilizer application
- Minimizes leaching/negative environmental impact
- Allows better timing of application correlated with crop growth stage (crop steering)
- Increased water and fertilizer use efficiency
- Potential to reduce fertilizer, save resources
Based on their observations, many of the proven benefits have a monetary aspect, or simply put, the potential to save money and increase profits.
Ways Fertigation Can Increase Profits
While the Purdue University study certainly gives substance to claims that fertigation can increase profits, let's get into the specifics.
Reduces Resource Waste
Increased water and fertilizer use efficiency means you're not wasting money on water or nutrients that go down the drain. With the precision application, you know that your resources are applied exactly where and when they're needed. When used in conjunction with soil moisture sensors, you can provide plants with the exact amount of water and nutrients required to grow healthy, thriving plants while reducing the risk of over-watering.
Use fertigation to microdose and deliver frequent feeding for crop steering. Irrigation strategies can influence crop growth stages. Using irrigation to push crops into the generative growth stage, you can decrease the time your plant uses energy to grow stalks and leaves and push them into reproduction, creating flowers and buds, shortening the time to harvest can increase profits.
To learn more about crop steering with irrigation, check out this article.
Reduced Labor Costs
Using fertigation along with automation, you can precisely deliver both water and nutrients to plants. With automated equipment handling labor-intensive tasks like feeding, you'll need less staff on hand, saving you money. Automation equipment does require maintenance, so you'll still need staff but fewer people to do the work, increasing your profits.
Fertigation systems are costly, but most commercial growers see a return on their investment within just a year. Don't be deterred by sticker shock; this is an investment in your future.
Upgrading your current irrigation strategy with automated fertigation is a big undertaking. It's crucial to work with the right company. These are complex systems to install; working with a team with outstanding customer support is essential to your success. Happy growing!