Control. Efficiency. Sustainability. Technology. All are shaping the future of production agriculture. With low margins, shrinking water resources and increasing regulation, the future is, in fact here.
This combination of forces has dramatically increased interest in precision irrigation management, and with it fertigation and chemigation. “Technological improvements have made it possible for ag producers to match nutrient application to the precise needs of their crops on a foot-by-foot basis,” notes Erik Tribelhorn, CEO of Agri-Inject, Yuma, Colorado. “With chemigation or fertigation, the producer controls the timing and the rate, maximizing input efficiency and minimizing volatilization or leaching. It’s a win for both the bottom line and the environment.”
If you have a pivot system (or systems) and the benefits of fertigation and chemigation make sense to you, your next logical question might be, “How do I get started? And how hard is it?”
“The first key is, come at this with the attitude that you can do it yourself…because you can,” asserts Erik Tribelhorn, CEO of Agri-Inject in Yuma, Colorado. “We’ve made our systems simple to set up, calibrate and use. It’s not an intimidating process, and technology has made the transition even easier.”
Making it painless
Tribelhorn outlines the basic steps an irrigator needs to cover to make the move to chemigation. The first step—matching the right fluid injection equipment to your irrigation system. “We have a System Builder questionnaire on our website that walks you through the process of identifying the key requirements for your particular system,” Tribelhorn. “That provides us with the information we need to get you the right equipment.”
Next, take a look at your irrigation system to ensure it is chemigation-ready. “First, you need to make sure you have a backflow preventer to ensure that chemical doesn’t flow into your water source,” Tribelhorn explains. “We can provide you with the regulations for your particular location so you can make sure you’re in compliance.”
Tribelhorn says most systems will then only need a few relatively minor adjustments to ensure they can deliver top chemigation performance. “For example, make sure your nozzle package is in good shape and operating at maximum efficacy,” he explains. “Uniform water application on every square foot means your chemicals are also being applied at the required levels.”
There is also a short checklist of physical setup requirements:
- A clean, flat surface on which to locate the injection system.
- For any system, you’ll need an injection point near the system properly threaded to accept the fluid injection quill.
- You’ll need to have power close to the injection point. “We have a variety of power options for all of our equipment,” Tribelhorn notes.
Even the part of the process most intimidating to non-math majors—determining how to calibrate the system for various fertilizers and chemicals—is no problem. “Our Apply Yourself App takes all the guesswork out of selecting and calibrating injection pumps,” notes Tribelhorn. “It works on a cell phone or tablet and is available for both Apple and Android devices. And the app does all the math.”
Cleanup is easy, too. Agri-Inject offers a kit that can be hooked to a garden house to flush the injection system between chemical and fertilizer applications.
Just a few simple steps will get you started and help you maintain your system in good working order season after season. With minimum effort, you will gain the freedom to efficiently apply nutrients and manage pest and disease problems on your schedule and to your specifications, without the need to schedule additional equipment or services.