Industrial tomatoes: Irritec’s recommendations for professional fertigation

In the cultivation of industrial tomatoes irrigation is fundamental; even more so when combined with the injection of fertilizers. Learn how Irritec technologies can optimize these practices.

Water needs and irrigation of industrial tomatoes

The water needs of industrial tomatoes are very high and the overall intake varies from 5,000-7,000 m3/Ha. These quantities must be interpreted based on seasonal climate trends (based on rainfall estimates and data received from weather stations) and in accordance with company production objectives.

The philosophy of Irritec®, synonymous with modern irrigation, is to return the right volume of water to the plant, limiting waste with irrigation systems that have maximum irrigation efficiency at low pressures.

What is the ideal irrigation system for tomatoes?

The most suitable irrigation system for tomato cultivation is undoubtedly a drip irrigation system.

The main advantages of a drip irrigation system are supplying water regularly and as needed, avoiding drains or stagnation. During the ripening phase, the water drop allows us to avoid wetting the epigeal part, favoring the creation of an environment hostile to the proliferation of pathogens.

The installation of the driplines is done by placing them alongside each single row of tomato plants (every 1.5 m for a single row, 1.6 m for double rows) generally on the surface. The flow rate of each individual dripper is between 0.8 and 1.5 liters/hour with a spacing of 30/40 cm. This allows you to have 6700 ml of wing (single row) or 6250 ml (double row). A drip irrigation system can always be implemented regardless of the shape of the field and the position of the water supply source. All this limits manpower and significantly reduces energy costs.

For this crop, Irritec’s advice is to use our P1® dripline. This is a high-quality hose that features a turbulent flow dripper designed for open field irrigation. Easy to lay out and install, it has excellent resistance to clogging and is available in various models, capable of covering distances of up to 600 meters.

 

The importance of the filtering system

The filtering system is a main element of the drip system as it safeguards the system from clogging and guarantees that each dripper delivers the nominal required flow ensuring uniformity throughout the sector. Its choice depends on the hydric nature of the available water. Commonly, water coming from lakes, rivers or artificial basins is filtered with modular grit filter solutions. These filters protect drippers from organic matter, silt and colloidal aggregates.

Irritec® metal filters are solid, corrosion resistant and long lasting. They can manage a large variety of flow rates because they are modular and easily expandable. Available in manual or automatic models for applications with lake water, rivers and canals and well water.

 

Fertigation: Four fundamental points for tomato cultivation

Fertigation plays a primary role in the ripening of tomatoes, thanks to the translocation of sugars to the berry during the final part of the vegetative cycle. Furthermore, it increases the plant’s resistance to drought, improves photosynthetic activity and root proliferation, increases the quality in Brix degrees and the shelf life of the fruits.

With the inclusion of a fertigation system, the gross salable production improves by around 20% compared to classic methods with lower irrigation efficiency and traditional fertilization.

On open field crops, and especially on highly impoverishing crops such as industrial tomatoes, it is essential to keep in mind that the fertility of the soil must always be safeguarded. This, however, does not only mean providing assimilable chemical substance, but also promoting reactions and exchanges in the soil. These trigger and support root absorption, improve the functionality of the plant’s underground system and strengthen its defenses against exogenous agents.

To optimize the fertigation process, here are four fundamental points:

  1. Completely solubilize the solutions before injecting them into the system. This will allow the circulating solution to always be consistent with the calculation of the fertilizer units thus avoiding issues with oversaturated solutions or solutions lacking nutrients. Our fertigation systems are equipped with devices such as agitators and blowers for mixing the nutrient solutions.
  1. Wait until the irrigation system is at the required pressure before injecting the fertilizer. This will allow for maximum uniformity in the delivery through the driplines which also forces the uniform distribution of the chemical species dissolved in the circulating water. There are automatic fertigation management systems such as the Commander control unit which can also differentiate temporally the application of the fertigation recipe, injecting when the system is in its ideal flow and pressure conditions.

 

 

  1. Avoid abundant watering. It is preferable to reduce the irrigation time and increase the rotation. By doing so, we avoid one of the greatest dangers to our agricultural lands, namely the run-off of the soil and the leaching of salts. This causes a financial crisis for farms that must add more nutrients to the crop because of the increase in losses, as well as an environmental problem due to groundwater pollution. Irritec’s automation solutions and the Commander system provides programmable shifts according to the time, volume, or presence of the residual water resource in the ground.
  1. Distribute the fertilizer slowly and without administration peaks throughout the entire irrigation period. This will allow the plant’s root system to develop in an isotonic environment in which there are no large differences in salt concentrations. On the contrary, a variable inhospitable environment would be created which would force the roots to find a new structure, constantly consuming useless energy.

 

Irritec fertigation systems

Irritec® injection systems are reliable and easy to use. They allow the injection of fertilizers (liquid or diluted in water) at injection rates between 150 l/h and 1700 l/h (depending on the models).

Different solutions are available to better adapt to agronomic needs, from simple systems of the Fertyclik® type, to the most performing such as the Dosabox Jr automatic® line, which provide injection at pH and EC targets.

These machines have a very regular fertilizer administration, adapting to systems with different flow rates or with water of a variable nature such as that coming from canals and ditches.