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Fertigation supports growth of fruit crops

Fertigation supports growth of fruit crops

Fertigation supports growth of fruit crops

Over the winter months, a good number of the Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural field team participated in training sessions to learn more about the value of fertigation in outdoor fruit crops such as pipfruit, stonefruit, avocados, kiwifruit, citrus and wine grapes.

Technical personnel from Yara Fertilizers NZ partnered with Gavin Subritzky, Fruitfed Supplies Technical Specialist for Horticulture Nutrition, to help the Representatives learn more about fertigation and how it can benefit the fruit crops grown in their region.

“Within the broad topic of crop nutrition, fertigation requires detailed knowledge of crop-specific requirements across the growing season,” Gavin explains. “We talked about the benefits of fertigation, fertigation system hardware, water quality, the importance of mixing and compatibility of different products. Feedback from our Representatives indicates they have a greater understanding of fertigation. Your local Representative is well placed to help with more details.”

Why consider fertigation if you don’t already use it?

Glen Baylis, Commercial Manager for Yara Fertilizers NZ, explains: “Most of us in the horticultural sector have heard the forecasts that the world’s population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050. To feed everyone, farmers need to produce 50 percent more food than they currently do.”

To meet these global demands, growers are being encouraged to intensify their operations, yet they’ll be competing for natural resources like land and water with the very people they’re trying
to feed.

Among the options to intensify production is the use of targeted nutrition in the form of fertigation where the nutrients are dissolved in irrigation water and applied directly to the crop in a plant-available form.

Fertigation is an efficient, high-performing, flexible nutrition practice that enables nutrients to be applied to match the changing plant demand and yield expectations to maximise productivity.

“Many growers are familiar with fertigation for undercover crops like tomatoes and the same principles apply for field-grown crops in orchards and vineyards,” Glen says.

When used as part of a precision irrigation system, fertigation can help growers apply the exact nutrients and quantities of each required by the crop at the various growth stages.

“This helps reduce reliance on precious natural resources like water and land, while improving the efficient utilisation of nutrient inputs by plants with less waste, and supports growers with their goals of improved yield and quality.”

Yara has a range of products specifically developed for field fertigation systems, containing the nutrients required by that fruit crop in the correct, plant-available form for the relevant growth stages.

“This makes the process simple and accessible.”

The Yara field fertigation products are sold under the YaraTera label and include:

  • The Kristalon range of fast-dissolving, water-soluble nutrients designed to target specific growth stages;
  • The Krista range of water-soluble straights of specific nutrients;
  • The Rexolin range of chelated micronutrients;
  • Super FK30, a pH-neutral liquid fertiliser with 30 percent Super FK phosphates which, when used regularly, helps clean irrigation lines, sprinklers and drippers by softening the water and removing calcium deposits.

Glen suggests a comprehensive field fertigation solution for all crops at all growth stages is simply achieved by combining the appropriate Kristalon formulation with YaraTera Calcinit, a rapidly dissolving, high-quality calcium (C) plus N fertiliser. 

“When considering your crop nutrition options, it’s worth keeping in mind the high quality and high nutrient availability of the YaraTera range which is applied little and often, versus applying the same nutrient quantities with a granular fertiliser and the potential for waste when not taken up by plants.”

Glen recommends also keeping in mind the quality of your water source and irrigation management. “These factors can affect the performance of your fertigation products, as well as the final yield and quality. Always check the quality of your water supply and manage application efficiently to minimise plant stress and maximise fruiting potential.

“We see continued growth in the use of fertigation by New Zealand growers and, with the demand to produce more food using increasingly efficient and sustainable methods, expect further uptake of fertigation across the country.”

Talk with your local Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative for more details on fertigation solutions for your orchard or vineyard.