Irrigation & Drainage Systems Engineering

ISSN: 2168-9768

Open Access

Fertigation Uniformity under Sprinkler Irrigation: Evaluation and Analysis


Zerihun D, Sanchez CA, Subramanian J, Badaruddin M and Bronson KF

In modern farming systems, fertigation is widely practiced as a cost effective and convenient method for applying soluble fertilizers to crops. Along with efficiency and adequacy, uniformity is an important fertigation performance evaluation criterion. Fertigation uniformity is defined here as a composite parameter consisting of irrigation and fertilizer application uniformity indicators. The field and computational procedures for sprinkler irrigation uniformity evaluation have been the subject of various studies. The objective of the study reported in this paper, however, is the development of an analytical framework for the evaluation and analyses of test-plot scale fertilizer application uniformity under solid-set sprinkler irrigation systems. Irrigation uniformity indices are adapted for use in fertilizer application uniformity evaluation. Fertilizer application rate, given as a function of irrigation depth and fertilizer concentration, is identified as the appropriate variable to express fertilizer application uniformity indices. Pertinent mathematical properties of the uniformity indices along with their practical fertigation management implications are outlined. Carefully designed hypothetical fertigation scenarios were analyzed to examine the significance of the interactive effects, of the local spatial trends of depth and concentration data, on the test-plot scale uniformity of the resultant fertilizer application rate data. The results of the study show that the spatial overlap patterns between depth and concentration data sets are the main determinants of test-plot scale fertilizer application rate uniformity. The study also shows that often the uniformity levels of irrigation and fertilizer concentration data sets cannot be uniquely related to the uniformity of the resultant application rate data. However, some practically useful qualitative relationships between the uniformity of irrigation depth, solute concentration, and application rate data sets are defined. Application of the approach presented here in the evaluation and analysis of fertigation uniformity data sets, measured under sprinkler irrigated conditions, is highlighted.


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