1024 FERTIGATION IN CITRUS ORCHARDS: A PROMISE OF MORE EFFICIENT AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND FERTILIZATION

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  • 1 Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Citrus Center, P.O.Box 1150, Weslaco, Texas 78599

The public is increasingly concerned with the danger of ground water pollution with fertilizer nitrogen and other chemicals. This is because slow water movement in underground aquifers assures the long lasting existence of contaminants. Citrus orchards commonly are heavily fertilized with nitrogen and other mineral nutrients. Fertigation through a low volume irrigation system is a promising new method of efficient use of fertilizer materials because it places mineral nutrients only in the wetted zones where roots are most active. Preliminary studies in Texas indicate that applying nitrogen fertilizers through a low volume irrigation system is a potentially powerful tool in minimizing N fertilizer leaching. When coupled with partial sodding in close tree proximity further reductions in NO3 leaching may be achieved presumably through uptake into the cover plants and/or indirectly by enhancing biological fixation in the soil. Other potential benefits of frequent N fertigations in citrus orchards will also be discussed based on the experimental data collected in various parts of the world.

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