Fertigation management using soil sensor controls in field cropping. Flow-Aid case study: reducing nitrate leaching in rain-fed and soil-grown iceberg lettuce.
Keywords: water, fertiliser, drip irrigation, wireless, nitrate leaching, decision support, DSS, irrigation scheduling, deficit irrigation.
Crops grown on light sandy soils may easily suffer from drought, while nutrients might leach quickly into the groundwater during heavy rainfall. With upcoming legislation like the Water Framework Directive, growers have a need for new methods to manage their water and fertiliser application. Within a European study called FLOW-AID we have investigated the use of soil sensors to assist farmers in their irrigation management practices, and have evaluated their application in a number of pilot studies. This paper describes the systems used, and the results of a Dutch case study on rain-fed and soil-grown iceberg lettuce.
The soil was covered with film and drip-irrigation used, with controlled fertigation using wireless soil sensors and a decision support system, comparing 3 watering regimes with common grower practices. As a result of the reduction of leaching of nitrogen, a slightly higher (10%) crop yield and similar crop quality was obtained compared to common grower practice, while reducing the amount of additional fresh water by a factor of three.
J Balendonck, B A J van Tuijl, F L K Kempkes, Greenhouse Horticulture – Wageningen UR, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands,
and J Wilms, J J de Haan, Applied Plant Research – Wageningen UR, Edelhertweg 1, 8219PH Lelystad, the Netherlands.
16 pages, 4 figures, 1 table, 21 references.