Researchers Introduce Fertigation to Andalusian Olive Groves

The process has been hailed as a sustainable way for farmers to fertilize and irrigate their olive trees precisely and with recycled water.

Olive Oil Times
Feb. 11, 2022
By Ephantus Mukundi
Olive Oil Times

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A research team from the University of Córdoba in Andalusia has achieved pre­ci­sion fer­ti­ga­tion of olive groves using reclaimed water.

Fertigation is a process where nutri­ents are applied along­side irri­ga­tion water, which advo­cates argue has dual ben­e­fits: sav­ing on fer­til­izer costs – specif­i­cally, nitro­gen – and giv­ing a sec­ond life to waste­water.

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The researchers said that using recy­cled water to irri­gate crops is a sus­tain­able irri­ga­tion approach and should be hailed as a break­through for con­serv­ing an increas­ingly pre­cious nat­ural resource in Spain and around the world. Globally, agri­cul­ture accounts for about 70 per­cent of the fresh­wa­ter used.

Among the chal­lenges faced by the researchers to achieve this goal was to deter­mine the amount of nutri­ents and water that the olive trees required, which varies depend­ing on loca­tion and time of year.

To resolve this chal­lenge, the researchers ana­lyzed the space-time vari­a­tions of nitro­gen, an essen­tial nutri­ent in olive tree growth, in the irri­ga­tion dis­tri­b­u­tion net­work.

Depending on the tree’s loca­tion on the net­work, water and nutri­ents had to be sent at dif­fer­ent times and in vary­ing amounts.

To help farm­ers sim­plify what is oth­er­wise a com­pli­cated process, the researchers cre­ated a mobile appli­ca­tion, Reutivar, through which farm­ers can receive a series of pre­cise rec­om­men­da­tions about when and how much water to use.



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