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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fertigation: Combining fertilizer with irrigation

Fertilizer Storage Tank
This weekend we were fertigating. Fertilization and irrigation are combined to form a process called fertigation using the irrigation system. Nitrogen fertilizers are used in the spring and early summer to promote almond and vegetation growth. Since almonds are high in protein they use a lot of nitrogen to form proteins in the almonds. We also fertigate with potassium, almonds are high in potassium therefore the tree takes up a lot of potassium out of the ground to produce the crop. This potassium needs to be replaced in the soil for next years crop to be successful.

The process of fertilizing is made easier for farmers who use drip or micro irrigation. Fertilizer is delivered to our storage tanks by the semi truck load. Next, when the timing is right for the tree to efficiently use the fertilizer we pump the fertilizer into the irrigation system. Since we use drip irrigation on our farm, we simply pump the fertilizer into the irrigation system. Then the water drips from the hoses in the field and fertilizer is delivered directly to the tree.

Drip irrigation hose delivering water and fertilizer to the tree
Before we installed drip irrigation we used to drive tractors with a trailer and tank spreader through the orchard. This required more man power, more time and extra costs to operate another piece of equipment. This also wasted fertilizer due to evaporation because the fertilizer wasn't being applied immediately with irrigation. With fertigation we are more efficient and smart with our farming practices; we use less inputs, we are easier on the environment and the bottom line is much happier.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl 

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