Chapter 18

Fertigation Systems for Vineyards

(book excerpts)

Fertigation is the application of dissolved fertilizers through an irrigation system to the vineyard. Most commonly this is done through a drip irrigation system but it can also be done with micro-sprinklers. Using a fertigation system, a wine grape grower can apply fertilizer anytime, and place it where the grapevine roots are most numerous and active. In addition to greater flexibility in application timing and placement, fertigation increases the rate of nutrient uptake and predictability of vine response to fertilization compared to band and broadcast applications. Effective fertigation requires knowledge of certain grapevine characteristics such as optimum daily nutrient consumption rate and root distribution in the soil. Nutrient characteristics such as solubility and mobility are important and irrigation water quality factors such as pH, mineral content, salinity, and nutrient solubility must be considered. The macronutrients nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium are the most common nutrients applied by fertigation, but micronutrients such as boron, zinc, iron, calcium manganese, and copper can also be applied through the irrigation system. In addition, to fertilizers other chemicals can be injected into microirrigation systems including chlorine, acid, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides.

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