Fertigation studies confirm its efficiency in piedmont

At the La Cabaña mill, Cenicaña carried out experiments that confirm an increase in production thanks to the use of this technology.

A series of commercial scale experiments and validations of fertigation are demonstrating the efficiency of this agronomic practice in foothill areas.

Although Cenicaña's investigations have not been concluded, the first results show that the use of irrigation technologies such as reduced flow or drip irrigation in combination with the application of fertilizers in solution contribute, under certain conditions, to increased production.


Location: Vallecito farm
Variety: DC 84-75
Ground: Nima (fine loam textural family on sandy skeleton)
Agroecological zone: 30H0 Groove slope: 3% Number of cuts: three

Results of the third cut with fertigation with reduced flow:

  • 20% more TCH compared to manual liquid fertilization treatment.
  • 35% more TCH than the treatment that received manual liquid fertilization without irrigation.
  • 87% more TCH than treatment without fertilization and without irrigation.
  • 6% more TCH in relation to the fertigation applied with a reduced flow rate applied to the microtube.
  • The fertigation treatments had a production of 15.7 t / ha of sugar, a value significantly higher than that obtained with the other treatments.
  • The fertigation treatment applied through reduced flow yielded the best incremental net income, in the order of $ 945.000 / ha.

The previous results confirm that fertigation is efficient applied by means of reduced flow and microtube. Likewise, the best fertilizer fractionation option is with increasingly fertigation applications, that is, applying the largest amounts of fertilizer towards the fast growing stage and up to seven months of age of the crop.

Installation of drip fertigation at the Acuario farm, where the commercial scale validation of these technologies was carried out.


The results of the template and first soca did not offer statistical differences in TCH between manual liquid fertilization applied in two events and fertigation applied with reduced flow with decreasing fractionation.

Commercial validation

Location: Hacienda Acuario, Ingenio La Cabaña
Variety: DC 85-92
Corte: second soca
Floors: Aquarius (frank skeletal textural family) and Guabal (clay textural family on frank skeletal)
Agroecological zone: 26: 1-22: 0

Drip fertigation results:

  • 26% more TCH compared to the conventional control watered with spray and manual liquid fertilization.
  • 20% more TCH than drip irrigation and manual liquid fertilization.
  • 11% more TCH than reduced flow irrigation and manual liquid fertilization.
  • There were no differences in TCH between areas with shallow and deep tillage.

The above confirms that:

  • Surface tillage is an advisable agronomic practice for foothill areas, since the different combinations of irrigation and plowing gave similar productivity.
  • Low flow irrigation should be used where the soil conditions are favorable (fine texture) and drip irrigation in the most difficult areas (coarse texture), combining the areas with the two systems to lower the costs of its implementation.
  • It is convenient to carry out fertigation both with reduced flow and with increasing drip.
  • Surface breakage is a good alternative to maintain production and also contributes to soil and water conservation. The plowing treatments consisted of deep tillage with subscaling, superficial tillage with 2 and 3-body scarifiers, and no plowing.

"The results have been spectacular"


Jairo Valencia (right), district chief of La Cabaña, during the fertigation installation work.

“El Ingenio La Cabaña has always been in the southern area of ​​high rainfall, so when we located ourselves at the Vallecito ranch, between Florida and Pradera, we knew that we were dealing with something different: a dry area, foothills and in a critical condition due to the low availability of water in summer. We considered it an opportunity to test the reduced flow system; first, thinking about irrigation, but once the system is installed we could go one step further with the fertigation application.

We started in 5.7 hectares, in a farm with historical productivity between 50-60 tons of cane per hectare. In the first cut we went from 56 tons to 109 TCH. For the second cut, despite the fact that production fell throughout the industry and that compared to the workforce there was a reduction, the results continued to present advantages for that area. We had around 97 TCH.

For the third cut we add a different treatment, a kind of simulation of dripping through a microtube hose.

Given this, 50 hectares with reduced flow were installed in the Acuario hacienda, which has the same characteristics in terms of soil condition, slope and stonyness. The results of the template were outstanding, but not those of the second cut due to extreme summer conditions. In the next cut we installed drip fertigation and the results were spectacular. We placed drip fertigation in the much more difficult lots and we had productions of 132 tons per hectare ”.

Evidence: Jairo Valencia
District Chief of Ingenio La Cabaña

"Fertigation is a complementary work that allows a greater efficiency of fertilization that can translate into a decrease in the consumption of fertilizers and an increase in production. Fertigation is the ideal complement to low flow and drip irrigation systems. We currently have the possibility of fertigation with these systems in approximately 42.4 ha. Once we have the harvest results and they are positive, we would be installing 354 ha in the next three years. with the necessary infrastructure to fertirrigate, until completing the entire farm that has 431.5 ha ”.

Alejandro Garcia
East Zone Administrator. Manuelita sugar mill 




Information letter
Year 1 / Number 3 / December 2013

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