Fertigation

by John Plantholt jplantho@nmsu.edu

spriklers on golf course


            Chemigation is the technique of introducing chemicals through irrigation systems, fertigation being the most common. Fertigation is the practice of fertilizing through irrigation. fertigation has been used for many years in flood and furrow irrigation. Just recently, technology has allowed these systems to be incorporated into different types of irrigation, everything from fixed sprinkler systems to drip systems to surge irrigation. This page mainly deals with benefits of using fertigation systems in fixed sprinklers on large turf areas, specifically golf courses. The golf course maintenance industry has taken a keen interest in the benefits of fertigation.


Installation of the Systems

            Installing fertigation systems into current sprinkler irrigation systems for golf courses or playing fields is easy and fairly inexpensive. The technique is to tie liquid fertilizer tanks into the main irrigation lines to evenly distribute fertilizer into the system. Injection rates are monitored by an injector pump. The injector pump is tied into the irrigation control panel and monitors the rate of flow of irrigation water. This way the injector pump can be calibrated to several rates depending on the specific fertilizer being applied. There are also control valves, which allow multiple tanks to be on the same system. The fertilizers can then be applied separately or combined for a specific blend.

System layout

Tanks of fertilizer On golf courses there are usually three or four tanks of fertilizers to suit the fertilizing needs of the greenskeeper. The two large tanks contain blends of NPK fertilizers, depending on your needs. The other tank or tanks (usually much smaller) contain liquid iron or a minor element fertilizer high in iron, these are used for quick green up of turf areas. The fertilizers can be applied separately or combined. The injector pump and rate of flow valves are installed in communication with the irrigation control panel to ensure that the desired application rate is maintained and evenly dispersed. Occasionally another tank is tied in containing some sort of pesticide, but due to environmental policies a lot of greens keepers prefer to use the conventional spray methods to avoid problems.


Benefits of Fertigation


            Personally, I have worked with fertigation systems on golf courses and have found that they are beneficial programs. Fertigation does not completely eliminate spreader applications but does save you time and money proves to be very efficient in most applications. The use of fertigation does however, have it's limitations. In order for it to be of benefit, you have to be in an area where irrigation is necessary at least once a week. On golf course greens there are also times when an application of a special blend or supplement is needed. In this case, a tank of this mix may not be practical. The use of fertigation has become wide ranged in the past ten years. Covering a variety of agricultural fields. I believe fertigation will become a standard operating procedure in the near future not only for turf but for all agricultural applications.


I'd like to thank the researchers at  I.T.R.C.  for a great book on fertigation.