Agri-Inject offers cost savings for tight financial times
YUMA, COLORADO — With commodity prices at levels that haven’t been seen for a number of years, farmers nationwide are looking for ways to cut costs, increase yields or, preferably, both. In fact, the USDA is already predicting that U. S. farm incomes will drop 32% this year to the lowest level since 2009, causing many farmers to look for options.
Fortunately, Agri-Inject offers hope at a very reasonable cost for anyone with a center pivot or linear irrigation system. According to Erik Tribelhorn, CEO of Agri-Inject, applying fertilizer and crop protection products through irrigation systems with Agri-Inject fluid injection technology just makes sense — agronomically, environmentally and … most important today … economically.
“By applying a portion of the fertilizer, a fungicide, insecticide or even a herbicide through the pivot, the producer is automatically saving the cost of a separate application,” Tribelhorn relates. “Plus, the timing can be on the producer’s schedule, not on when a commercial applicator can get you on the schedule or when the weather is conducive for an aerial applicator to fly it on. Chemigation or fertigation lets you apply the precise amount of crop fertilizer injection and/or crop protection products at precisely the right times during the growing season.”
Tribelhorn says studies have also shown that chemical application through a pivot is just as consistent and accurate as that applied with a commercial sprayer or aerial applicator. Periodic application of fertilizer through the pivot is also one of the best ways to spoon feed nitrogen at a rate that the plant uses it.
“Fertigation is an efficient method of supplying part of the nitrogen needed for the crop through the irrigation system, near the time of maximum nitrogen uptake,” stated Bruce Bosley, a former cropping systems and natural resources agent with Colorado State University Cooperative Extension prior to his retirement in March 2015. “While the amounts of uptake will vary slightly with hybrid, the most rapid period of N uptake is between the eighth leaf and tasseling growth stages. During this time, a steady supply of N is critical to ensure optimum yield.”
Another study at Iowa State University found that when spring weather is uncooperative, getting corn planted should take priority over making nitrogen fertilizer applications. When that happens, though, there needs to be a plan in place to get nitrogen applications completed after planting and crop emergence. Fertigation, where applicable, can generally be part of that plan.
Tribelhorn says applying a large percentage of the fertilizer through the pivot can also be good insurance.
“If you apply a portion of the nitrogen on pre-plant or at planting time and then apply the rest through the pivot at regular intervals, you’re minimizing the risk of losing your investment should the crop get hailed out or somehow destroyed,” he says. “However, if you put on the majority of fertilizer early in the season and the crop gets hailed out, you still have to pay the fertilizer bill,” he emphasizes. “If you irrigate and apply fertilizer through fertigation, you can always be just ahead of the plant so you’re giving it the fertility that it needs without overdoing it or wasting product. At the end of the year, you’re going to smooth out your cash flow, minimize your risk and I think you’re going to use less fertilizer, because you’ve used it more efficiently.
“The only way a plant can uptake fertilizer is in water,” Tribelhorn continues. “So it inherently makes sense to have the fertilizer in the water to begin with. Plus, given the accuracy of an Agri-Inject system and today’s nozzle packages, you can control both the dosage and the application.”
As an example, Tribelhorn says most fungicides and insecticides call for the product to be applied in 1/10th to 2/10th of an inch of water per acre. Fertilizer, on the other hand, can be applied with any level of irrigation desired. For a deep fertilizer application, injecting it with three-fourths of an inch of water is not a problem. In sandy soils, one might want to reduce the amount of water, while maintaining the same level of nitrogen, to keep it from leaching out of the root zone.
“Regardless of what rate of water and chemical you use, though, it just makes sense to apply the product through an irrigation system,” he concludes. “In most cases, you’re only growing crops where you’re watering crops; so you already have a very effective distribution system, assuming you have a modern nozzle package. Whether finances are tight or not, it just makes sense to use it. A one-time investment in an Agri-Inject system pays you back application after application, field after field, season after season.”