When you think of fertilizing, you probably also think of adding the nutrient to the soil of each plant. But for many professional growers, that’s too time-consuming and inconsistent. Instead, they prefer fertigation, which is the addition of water-soluble fertilizers, other nutrients and even soil amendments into the irrigation system so they are distributed while the plants are being watered.
Fertigation has been used in farming for decades, and it makes growing quality cannabis easier. It combines two individual steps into one, and increases the likelihood that the nutrients will be distributed equally to all of your plants. When applying fertilizer manually, it’s easy to under-dose or overdose plants. But turning fertilization into an automatic procedure helps make fertigation systems ideal for today’s professional grow operations.
Requirements for fertigation
Fertigation can increase absorption levels, reduce the amount of fertilizer or other chemicals you use, and build stronger and more efficient root systems. It can be used with drip and continuous application irrigation systems—but for fertigation to be effective, you must ensure that the irrigation system is maintained and performing well. Backflow devices are a must for fertigation so you don’t risk contamination of potable water supplies, and you’ll want to be sure to use chemical spill trays.
Before you choose a fertigation system, consider whether the grow will use synthetic or organic fertilizers. Some organic fertilizers may contain materials that don’t always fully dissolve in water, and particles can easily clog the emitters in a drip system. To help prevent this, it may be necessary to install a filter between a system’s injector and emitters. Without such a filter, the grower can spend time unclogging the system. Most synthetic fertilizers are completely water soluble, but a filtration device should still be used.
You may also hear the term “chemigation.” It’s similar to fertigation, but implies adding pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to the irrigation system in addition to nutrients.
Because of their low solubility, not all fertilizers can be used in a fertigation system. Due to this limitation, growers should decide whether they prefer certain fertilizers over others before considering the installation of a fertigation system. Some operations swear by their preferred fertilizer mixes, so they may not want to change them in order to adopt the practice of fertigation. Other operations, however, will change the fertilizer, letting growers spend their time tending to the special needs of the plants and ensuring that the grow will thrive all around.
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