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The Rising Demand for Fertigation: A Market Overview and Forecast

Updated: May 19, 2023

As the global population — and demand for food production — expands, so does the need for more efficient, sustainable farming systems. And fertigation is rising to meet those needs.

Fertigation uses irrigation systems to make timely, efficient fertilizer applications to crops. It offers several advantages over traditional fertilization methods, including better nutrient uptake, less runoff, and more efficiency.

As a result, the fertigation market is growing rapidly as farmers recognize those benefits and increasingly opt for a farming method that can maximize their yields and ROI (return on investment). And while there are still some challenges around the fertigation market, opportunities continue to accelerate.

Fertigation Market Overview

Fertigation systems are most common in the Great Plains region of the U.S. But popularity is growing in other regions like the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and Southeast, particularly in situations where water availability and soil types make the technology necessary. Fertigation has gained popularity internationally as well, especially in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Canada.

Fertigation might be a challenge in areas with consistent rainfall. However, regions with intermittent, heavy rainfall can still benefit from fertigation, since the system can quickly replace lost nutrients.

Growers planting into sandy soils can maximize their yields by using fertigation. Heavier, textured soils can get away with not using fertigation, but they can still benefit by integrating the technology. Fertigation can allow farmers with heavier soils to reduce the total amount of nitrogen applied, while still maintaining high crop yields.

Fertigation is beneficial to row crop and specialty crop farmers alike. Farmers with varying acreage may benefit from investing in fertigation. For smaller farmers, fertigation systems can eliminate the cost of custom spraying and give similar capabilities to a sprayer, which is a hard investment to make when it can only be capitalized across a smaller number of acres. For larger-scale farmers, fertigation helps to streamline their operations and logistics and enables greater sustainability which can lead to premiums in commodity markets.

Fertigation Market Size:

The fertigation market has experienced significant worldwide growth in recent years. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global fertigation market size was valued at USD $15.3 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD $24.8 billion by 2025.

Fertigation Market Trends & Drivers:

Fertigation technology offers many benefits to agriculture — and more and more producers are starting to take notice. These systems offer a more environmentally friendly approach to farming, since they reduce leaching, runoff, and improve nutrient utilization efficiency.

As the worldwide population grows, so does the demand for food production. As that demand continues to rise, farmers need ways to maximize crop yields while minimizing resource usage. Fertigation allows farmers to apply precise amounts of nutrients and water to their crops, leading to better plant growth, yields, and quality.

In regions that already use irrigation, fertigation and chemigation help to conserve energy by leveraging energy already used for fertigation to apply fertilizers and chemicals rather than using additional energy to power a tractor for fertilizer and chemical application.

Responding to consumer demand, major ag industry stakeholders have already and will continue to place a greater emphasis on sustainable agricultural practices. By implementing fertigation, farmers are demonstrating that they’re conserving water and fertilizer – increasing their opportunities in a marketplace that puts a premium on environmental stewardship.

In general, high-value crops that require precise control of irrigation and nutrient delivery are more likely to drive the future of the fertigation market. This includes crops such as fruits, vegetables, and specialty crops like greenhouse-grown or hydroponically cultivated plants. These crops often have specific nutrient requirements and benefit from the efficiency and targeted application of fertigation systems.

However, in regions where water resources are limited or where farmers seek to maximize yield and resource efficiency, the adoption of fertigation for corn will play a large role as a market driver, especially in the United States.

Fertigation Market Challenges & Opportunities

Adopting fertigation technology is not without challenges. One of the main hurdles is the initial capital investment to purchase and install the equipment. The learning curve of operating and maintaining the system can also be difficult, as it requires technical expertise and training.

However, there are opportunities to address these challenges and drive market growth. Fertigation as a service, equipment lease-to-own options, and advanced pumps with rate control and monitoring capabilities can make this technology more accessible and affordable for farmers. In addition, the use of precision agriculture technology, such as N-Time™ and other digital tools, can further optimize fertigation systems.

Integration with other agtech platforms, such as John Deere Operations Center or Climate FieldView, can also make adopting digital tools for fertigation management easier. While there are challenges to overcome, the opportunities for growth and innovation in the market are significant.

The bottom line:

The fertigation market is growing rapidly as farmers search for more sustainable, efficient ways to fertilize their crops while balancing input costs and yields. The increasing awareness of fertigation benefits, including better nutrient utilization, less leaching, more plant growth, and maximum yields, is driving demand for this technology.

Despite challenges, like up-front costs, opportunities for growth and innovation in this market are on the rise. Fertigation as a service, advanced pumps with rate control and monitoring capabilities, and precision agriculture technology, like N-Time™ are all chances for the market to continue its expansion.

To further enhance this technology, the Sentinel Fertigation team is working to improve N-Time™ and fertigation system integration. If you're interested in investing in fertigation, reach out to us to learn more about this exciting and rapidly growing market.

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