Getting nutrients to crops in commercial cultivation grows is a critical aspect of a farmer's routine.
Some automated systems only manage nutrient dosing equipment, while others can integrate irrigation scheduling, multiple recipes, and other nutrient dosing activities. From a farm or grow room management perspective, you want to optimize water management and nutrient levels to avoid wasting valuable resources.
What is a nutrient dosing system?
Commonly referred to as fertigation, a nutrient dosing or delivery system injects fertilizers and other water-soluble solutions into an irrigation line or large batch tanks. In addition to feeding plants the nutrients they require, high-quality systems can also measure EC, pH, and temperature levels allowing you to create rules to keep optimum levels.
How does it work?
Using a sophisticated series of sensors, these automated systems monitor temperature, EC, and pH levels in the irrigation or batch tank. Advanced 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 dosing nutrient systems?
The primary benefit of smart fertigation or nutrient dosing systems is that it allows growers to deliver a precise amount of nutrients automatically. This can be customized 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 legitimate 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 dosing 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 and into groundwater tables.
Wrapping things up.
While automated nutrient dosing systems require regular maintenance, the labor required to operate them is insignificant compared to the labor costs saved on manually performing the task. As improvements in indoor agriculture advance, the number of growers applying these profit-producing systems will only continue to increase.